When my buddy, Hamish, isn’t traveling around the country promoting his new movie at film festivals, he can be found developing incredible calf muscles while walking around his neighborhood in the Hollywood hills. That city with a sign is home to many eclectic residents, including this rare refugee from gay paree.
This Citroën DS21 Series Three hails from the Paris region of France, and although its paint is more tomato soup than Bordeaux red, it would still not look out of place tucked in next to a curb-side café. Introduced as the successor to the long-lived Traction Avant, the DS (19 & 21) proved to be lightyears ahead in both styling and technology, maybe too far ahead for many here in the States. Powered by a series of inline fours of modest displacement, culminating in the 2,347-cc pushrod four powering this, what looks like a ’71 or ’72, the DS served as the company’s brand leader until the debut of the derivative SM.
Inside this particular DS you’ll note Citroën’s clever single spoke steering wheel, as well as the current owner’s clever use of black duct tape to keep the driver’s seat from swallowing its occupant whole. That tower under the dash is in reality the extension of the firewall necessitated by placement of the engine, which is longitudinally mounted aft of the front axle line, making the DS a mid-engined car.
That motor drove both the front wheels and a high pressure hydraulic pump which itself drove the suspension, brakes, steering and clutch. The result is that Citroëns drive like no other car, and the hydropneumatic suspension provides a ride that is like traveling down a Slip-N-Slide that’s been lain across a series of ocean swells. More than one passenger has lost their lunch because of that. The brakes are equally unique, and the recommended stopping procedure in a Citroën is to hold your foot just above the mushroom-shaped brake pedal and think stop.
Up front, one notable change in the later DS 21 cars sold in the U.S. was the removal of both the glassed over headlights and the steerable lamps, both mandated by DOT regulations of the time. The vinyl roof this car sports is a rare sight, and covers over what is normally a brushed steel C-pillar. As the Southern California sun wreaks havoc on these kind of roof treatments, its possible that this DS has spent a good deal of its life in a garage somewhere, although its 93,000-plus miles shown on the odo indicates it does get around.
This Citroën is in a condition typical of how you find these cars today. They are cherished by a few, but many of their owners either don’t want to keep them pristine, or have too much money sunk into just keeping the consumables replaced with regularity, as parts for the cars are on the pricy side. That being said, there exists, at least in the LA region, a healthy cadre of U.S. Citroën enthusiasts, ready to help you spend your money, if you’re so inclined.
Thanks for the pictures go to Hamish McCollester. Check out the trailer for his new movie, Jason’s Big Problem!