Hagerty Extols the Virtues of the DS

On November 20, 2019, Hagerty.com featured an article by Aaron Robinson titled “Celebrating Citroën’s divine ’50s creation, the DS”. While it’s nice to see Hagerty promoting the DS and Citroën’s 100th anniversary this year, overall though the article is a superficial read of both the history of Citroën and the innovative features found on the DS. Read it here: https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/11/20/celebrating-citroens-divine-50s-creation-the-ds?utm_source=SFMC&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Daily_News_Monday_Nov_25

Note that there are two statements that are incorrect and called out in the comments section:

  • The DS has a self-centering steering wheel. – The DS did not have self-centering steering. That system, known as DRAVI, (an acronym for “Direction à rappel asservi” literally meaning “steering with controlled return”, more accurately described in English as “power steering with power-assisted return”), was introduced in 1970 with the Citroën SM. The DS did have a heart-shaped cam with a spring-loaded cam follower attached to the steering column, but it was there only to help keep the car in straight-ahead trajectory as the DS’s power steering system has virtually no center play. However, if one turns the steering left or right and releases the wheel it does not return to a straight-ahead position as does the DRAVI system.
  • It could drive on three wheels as an emergency measure but anything above bicycle speed was strictly forbidden by the owner’s manual. – A DS can be driven on 3 wheels and not only driven slowly. The late André Garnier was know to drive his DS around Buffalo, NY. In fact, he drove from Buffalo to Citroën USA headquarters in New Jersey, and back, on just 3 wheels! And John Love, a Rhodesian racing driver that also introduced advertising on F1 cars via “Gunston” cigarettes, drove a DS on 3 wheels very fast around the Belvedere Airodrome Racing circuit in Salisbury way back in about 1959/60.

Still, despite the fluff and inaccuracies, the article does help to make the average North American classic car owner insured with Hagerty aware that the DS is truly something special and should be checked out if one can be spotted at a local car show.

5 comments

  1. It’s a self Centering unlike the DIRAVI,
    If the steering rack is well balanced , plus the vehicle’s front and the rear alignment is spot on, one could easily leave the steering wheel, whilst driving straight, it would still keep going straight.
    Have you never felt how the steering wheel has a dead spot somewhere in the centre ?
    I have experienced that spot in my previously owned ’72 North American DS 21 Pallas which was a BVH.
    Please let me know if you have/have never experienced that feel?

    1. Yeah, every DS I’ve owned had that dead spot. Is it actually possible to get rid of it by tinkering with the crossover settings, or whatever?

  2. I don’t think there is sufficient weight upfront in the SM to keep the rear from hitting the ground. The DS has a cast-iron block and even with that, you want someone sitting in the front seat to add offset ballast opposite to the rear wheel that is removed.

  3. I remember my father Andre Garnier telling family and friends stories about his adventures in his 3-wheeled DS. One of the first was a trip from Buffalo to outside of New York City to show the execs at Citroen USA. He wanted them to use the car for publicity or in their ads. Unfortunately, they weren’t interested. As a Citroen dealer and self-taught engineer, he specially modified the car to stay upright and drive without the right rear wheel. Somehow over the years, the myth that you could just remove one of the wheels and drive that way got started. Don’t try this if you or someone you know owns a DS or they will damage the car!

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