DS Crashworthiness — Crumple by Design

Back on May 4th we featured an article about a DS we referred to as Evelyn, that sat abandoned outside in a Toronto driveway and was too rotted to save. The owner, Mr. Vairis Laukswas, had passed away and Citroën Autoclub Canada was contacted by a family member that was handling Vairis’ estate.

It turns out that in the pile of stuff Vairis left behind, six Polaroid photos were uncovered and two of them show DS’s that were in an accident.

The family thinks that this photo is from 1978. It shows the result of an accident that Vairis had with a 1972 DS21. Vairis was taking his mother Anna and her sister to the airport for a trip to Florida when he was hit in an intersection. He was on a green light going through the intersection when the other driver, on the red, attempted to shoot through and struck him.

Anna was a doctor and that was a good thing. She decided the other driver should go to Emergency. Nobody in the DS was hurt, just shaken up and the ladies caught their plane. They could nurse their bruises on the beach. The details about the other car are not known, but as the driver was hurt, it did not appear to protect as well as the Citroën.

We did a bit more investigating as to where this photo was taken. Citroën Autoclub Canada president George Dyke thought the location looked familiar and determined it was sitting at the rear of Raymond’s Citroën Service which was located at 2773 Dufferin St, in Toronto Ontario M6B 3R6. Raymond closed shop almost 25 years ago and the building is now occupied by Azores Auto Group.
Checking out this Google maps street-view you can see the rear of that location. The building on left has been extended forward and on the right the stairs have been changed, but the air vents are still the same: 
Azores Auto Group rear yard. (https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.7042118,-79.4514609,3a,55.5y,241.85h,81.84t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1snJmfunrJHasJvdfwLNNwZg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en)

This second accident photo shows either a 1970 or 1971 D-Special that met a similar fate, apparently at the hands of Vairis. It would appear that it was in more of a front right collision.

We don’t know details of the accident, but the following four photos shows what appears to be the came car taken apart prior to the crash. When the Evelyn was removed from the property there were parts of another Citroën D model in the garage on the property. The fenders were green and we suspect it was the same one shown in these photos that were also discovered.

We wonder if this is how Vairis found the car? If he put it together and got it running, did the accident possibly occur because of his driving inability, his lack of mechanical expertise, or both? They family say he was good driver and without further evidence — we’ll chalk it up to bad luck on both counts.

The D-Special looks decent in these photos. Only minor dings and not totally rusted out — yet!

In both accident situations the D did exactly what modern cars do — crumple by design. There are many other photos taken over the years of crashed DS that show the same — people walking away from what looks to be a crash that could have been fatal. It was way ahead of its time.

One of the main reasons that Citroën pulled out of the North American market in the early 1970s was that the government was legislating guard-rail like bumpers on vehicles for safety, but not taking into account collapsing crumple zone engineering for safety as we see with every car today!

In any event, these photos show that the DS was well built with the objective to protect those inside. A virtue that its occupants don’t fully appreciate until an accident.

Update — Feb 15, 202: We were just sent this video that the family came across of what appears to be Vairis Laukswas driving his DS in 1971. Nice to see it actually running!

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