Own­ing a Citro‘n DS]

Classic Cars (UK) - - Life Cycle -

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.’

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