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During the mid-20th century, one car embodied the future of automotive design, technological advancement, and mobility. That car was the revolutionary Citroën DS. Debuting at the Paris Motor Show in October of 1955, the DS made such an impact on the motoring public that Citroën took 80,000 orders for the car by the show's conclusion. Citroën called their new model DS, short for Desiree Speciale, but the public would affectionately call it the Goddess. The car got its nickname because the French pronunciation of the letters DS (déesse) means goddess.

 

Quite simply, the DS did not look like any other mass-produced automobile that preceded it. Its futuristic and aerodynamic shape was thanks to a nose shaped like a wedge, a roof line with a pronounced downward slope toward the rear, and a front track that was wider than its rear track which made the rear of the body narrower than the front. Other unusual features included brake lights and turn signals mounted high at the back of the roof, a brake button shaped like a mushroom rather than a typical pedal, and a single-spoke steering wheel. The DS also had unstressed removable body panels to make access and repairs easier, and the roof was made of fiberglass which lowered the car's center of gravity and reduced its weight. A major re-styling of the DS' front end for the 1968 model year brought with it some major lighting innovations. The wedge shape of the nose remained, but the original exposed headlights were replaced in favor of four covered headlights mounted in an enclosure behind clear glass lenses. The outer low-beam headlights were self-leveling so as not not blind oncoming drivers, and the inner high-beam headlights were connected to the steering system and could swivel up to 80 degrees left and right as the driver turned the wheel. This allowed the light to be projected across a wider area of the road ahead and the direction of travel.

 

Without a doubt, the technological centerpiece of the DS was its hydraulic system and associated suspension. The independent hydropneumatic suspension used pressurized fluid and negated the use of traditional springs and shock absorbers. The system was self-leveling and the driver could adjust the ride height as needed. It offered an extremely smooth ride over rough roads which were common at the time in France, and exceptional handling for a car of its size. In addition to actuating the brakes and steering, the hydraulic system also actuated an innovative semi-automatic transmission. The driver would select the desired gear and the hydraulic system would do the rest, actuating clutch and gear engagement as needed.

 

Combining avant-garde styling and a long list of technological advances into one automobile, the Citroën DS represented a major achievement for France, which in 1955 was still recovering from the devastation of the Second World War. Along with the lower-priced ID model, and including the station wagon and convertible body styles, total production neared 1.5 million units in 6 countries over 20 years. In 2009, Classic & Sports Car magazine asked 20 leading automotive designers to name the most beautiful car in the world. That car was the Citroën DS.

Black print on a Lake Blue 100% cotton shirt.

Citroën DS, La Déesse, The Goddess T-Shirt Lake Blue

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  • Printed on a Anvil 100% cotton shirt.

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