Citroën DS: a product of industrial design.

Special Aerodynamics: Lesson 14

 

Citroën DS: a product of industrial design.

The wave of technological innovations, that at the beginning of the twentieth century affected the world of transport and especially the car one, also introduced new technical and aesthetic concepts of design. The needs related to the search for ever greater performance (speed on the one side and less consumption on the other) and the desire to impart greater dynamism and fluidity to the image of vehicles, push designers to study new shapes and to increasingly resort to aerodynamic science. Oday we’re here to talk about Citroën DS: a product of industrial design.

The evolution of the shapes of the bodywork of road cars, however, has only taken place since the 1950s, precisely with the abandonment of the standards of grandeur, heaviness and redundancy of volumes, in order to advantage dynamism, lightness and simplicity of lines. Some projects initially leave critics and the public banned because they are considered too futuristic and in any case outside the tastes of the time and do not find the desired success, or they remain only prototypes and study models for the world of racing or for future developments.

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Industrial design

Industrial design and aerodynamics in car manufacturing

A very successful car, however, that manages to establish itself decisively in the history of automotive design is the Citroen DS, still considered – after almost 60 years after its presentation – the masterpiece of the French company thanks to its extremely unconventional line and technical and stylistic solutions that are nothing short of revolutionary. The aesthetic impact was born, however, mainly to meet the needs of designers aimed at obtaining a car with the best possible aerodynamic penetration coefficient. At the 1955 Paris Motor Show, its innovative and elongated silhouette, the lines stretched backwards, the short and tapered tail, the rear fairing wheels makes a sensation. The car gives the impression of being curled up on the rear axle, ready to sprint forward.

The first model in the DS range, the one presented in Paris, was the DS19, powered by the 1.9-liter engine already mounted on the Traction Avant, but upgraded to 75 HP at 4500 rpm. The maximum achievable speed was 140km/h, not many to tell the truth, but sufficient to guarantee dynamism and comfort.

There were, however, those who, despite numerous technological innovations, contested DS with a too high purchase price. Therefore Citroën, to meet these requests, starting from 1957 also made the ID, a simplified and inexpensive version of the DS.

In 1958, the DS was also offered in a convertible version, creating one of the most beautiful and fascinating cars discovered in history.

Countless variations and refinements then began, both in mechanics and aerodynamics, as well as improvements in the interior and fittings. At the same time, innovations and curiosities continued: from the adaptive headlights according to the load of the new DS21 from 1965 to the new aerodynamic front of the 2nd series recognizable by the double faired light clusters where the internal headlights rotate together with the steering to improve lighting night of the curves (1967), from the brake booster to the semi-automatic gearbox (1968), from the Break 20 station wagon version capable of accommodating 8 people on three rows of seats (1968), to mechanical injection fuel first and then electronic (1968- 69), to iodine headlights (1970).

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Citroen DS

In 1974, the DS, now on the avenue of the sunset, was joined by the Citroën CX, the new aerodynamic sedan with a more modern design that would replace it within a year.

Thanks to its incredible road skills, the DS also managed to conquer a not inconsiderable sporting palmarès, entering fully among the most victorious cars in history: the DS and the ID were in fact the absolute protagonists of the rallies and of the great international marathons for over 17 years, from their first victory, obtained at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1959, to the last, which reached the Rally of Morocco in 1975.

Citroen Ds rally

Citroen Ds in rally.