Owning a Citro‘n DS]
Jamie Piggott, London
Jamie has run The DS Workshop for 17 years, after finding that he could look after his own DS better than the existing specialists. ‘I always say run it for six months to see if you fall in love with it, and then decide what you want to do with it. Lots of customers in London have sheddy-looking cars that are mechanically perfect.
‘Years ago, you could buy a D Spécial for a grand, rob it of its panels and stick them on a rotten DS Pallas, and you had a £10k car. Some of these are still coming out of the woodwork, but most of the real dross has disappeared off the market.
‘They get more expensive to maintain as they get more complex. The average book time for engine removal and replacement is 16-23 hours, for example, but it’s 28 for an auto. If you’re going to buy a rough car, make sure it’s carb-fed, because you can drive around any problems. A poor injected car will break your soul. If you don’t know the cars, get someone who does to go along with you.’
David Johnson, London
David bought his left-hand-drive 1974 DS20 Pallas semi-auto from Olivier Houiller at French Classics in 2016, having spent six months looking for one. ‘I like cars from the Sixties and Seventies of any marque but I was drawn to owning a DS as my first classic because I had two uncles who owned them – I rode in them then and loved them. I looked at cheaper cars, but I don’t have the skills or the space to work on it myself so I just wanted a reliable car.
‘The DS is a completely different species, and one thing I hadn’t anticipated was just how many people are interested in it – even if they don’t know what it is. It seems to make a strong impression on very young children. The first time a Lancia enthusiast friend of mine sat in it, he said, “I’ll have to get out and get back in again because it’s such an experience.”
‘It’s street-parked and used every weekend, and for some school runs too. For the first couple of months I had to think about driving it quite carefully but now, even if I’ve not been in it for a week, I find it quite intuitive – though I never want to get into it in a hurry because I like to let it warm up. And that whole ignoring speed bumps thing is still a bit of a novelty.’
Jonathan Aucott, Staffordshire
Aucott owned his first ‘Goddess’, a left-hand-drive D Super from France, in his early twenties before he started dealing in classics full-time as Avantgarde Cars almost two decades ago. He’s owned four more since, including the DS23 EFI Pallas pictured here.
‘It was my first interesting car and may even have led to me becoming seriously involved with classics,’ he says. ‘What excited me is that they’re completely different from anything else, and you get a real sense of occasion every time you drive one. It’s not just a car you can jump into; they take a while to acclimatise to. You’ve got to go with the flow with them, not rush the gearchange, not hurl it into corners – though I reckon the steering is better than an SM, which is almost too “pointy”.
‘You need to find a good Citroën specialist, so do your research – there’s no point in taking them to a mainstream garage. But when they’re right, they’re very reliable. It doesn’t do them any good to stand for long periods – if you leave them unused they will spring hydraulic leaks.
‘The ones to have are the DS21 or 23 electronic injection Pallas, but choose on condition rather than exact model and forget trying to find a rust-free right-hand-drive car – they don’t exist. Go for a left-hander; it’s all part of the occasion.’