- 60 years of DS celebrated at Motorclassica with debut of new DS 5
- New DS 5 joined by ID19 Parisienne assembled in Heidelberg Australia in 1962
- International style icon also raced extensively at the time
- Endurance racing and rallying was DS’ forte
The 60th anniversary of the iconic Citroen DS will be celebrated at this week’s Motorclassica in Melbourne, with the milestone also marking the launch of the new DS 5.
60 years on from stunning the motoring world when it launched in 1955, the DS19 with its futuristic aerodynamic styling, innovative hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, inboard front disc brakes and other cutting-edge technologies that set new benchmarks in automotive design, ride quality, handling and braking will be celebrated at Motorclassica.
In 1955, the groundbreaking vehicle wasn’t cheap. And this prompted Citroen to produce a more affordable, locally-assembled variant called the ID19.
Shown side-by-side at Motorclassica, the new DS 5 will be displayed with a Victorian assembled, 1962, ID19, the more affordable variant of the flagship DS that first debuted in 1955.
What isn’t remembered is the new ID19 model debuted on Aussie race tracks at Phillip Island in 1962 for the Armstrong 500 along with partaking in numerous reliability and marathon racing events.
As was the original intention of touring car racing, the four classes were based on retail prices and was designed to showcase a broad spread of makes and models proving a combination of speed and durability under the strain of racing.
The Citroen was grouped in Class A, which catered for the most expensive cars (from £1251-£2000) such as the big V8-powered Studebaker Larks, Ford’s Zephyr Mk III, Chrysler’s Valiant R and S series sedans and a Vauxhall Velox.
The ID19 was a big car, riding on a huge 123-inch (3124mm) wheelbase with a kerb weight of over 1200kg, but it had a front-driven 1.9-litre four-cylinder engine. While the motor only made 70hp (51kW) its secret was its location back well behind the front axle line which gave it excellent weight distribution.
Three Citroens entered the ’62 Armstrong 500, led by Norm Beechey and Greg Cusack in the most serious entry as it was backed by local Citroen distributors, Continental & General. Bill Buckle and Brian Foley fronted with a Scuderia Veloce Motors ID19, while Citroen dealers Wallace and Stable entered a third car driven by Bill Wilson and Mike Ide.
Out-gunned by the more powerful competition, the Citroen’s advanced self-levelling suspension proved to be a crucial advantage as the track started to crumble. The Beechey/Cusack car was the highest placed in Class A, finishing third behind a more powerful Ford and Studebaker V8. Buckle and Foley finished fifth in class, two laps ahead of Wilson/Ide’s sixth placed ID19.
There were no Citroens in the first Armstrong 500 held at Mount Panorama in 1963, but Bill Buckle and Brian Foley teamed up again in an ID19 that had been updated with better aerodynamics and more power to allow a top speed down Conrod Straight of around 105mph (168km/h).
The Sydney pair already had Citroen racing experience having shared an ID19 in the 1962 Bathurst Six-Hour race for sports cars and touring cars, which they also raced in the Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island.
They’d finished fourth in Class D at the Six Hour race and competed against large powerful cars like the Ford Zephyr Mk III, Triumph 2000, Studebaker Lark, Valiant S series, and a Holden EH Premier. With an almost unmodified car they finished third in Class D behind the faster V8 Studebaker Larks, without changing brake pads or tyres once.
The only time a Citroen DS ran in the Bathurst 500 was the 1968 race when Glyn Scott and Bill Daly raced an imported DS21 Pallas. While it was never going to challenge the Alfa Romeo 1750 GTs for the class win, the custom painted “winking eye” covers on the headlights caused a stir.
Unfortunately their race ended with a wild crash up and along the bank at Forrest’s Elbow!
The original DS shape had its last major motorsport outing in Australia in the late ‘60s, when the design was already 15 years old. Three DS 21s were entered into the 1968 London-Sydney Rally; two factory entries driven by Lucien Bianchi and Jean-Claude Ogier, and Bob Neyret and JacquesTerramorsi, while the third was crewed by Peter Vanson, J.L Lemerle and was sponsored by the Automobile Club de France.
Compared to other vehicles on the rally the three Citroens were lightly modified to cope with the rigours of such a long, grueling rally. The engines were detuned so they could cope with low-octane fuels; the rear guard spats were removed and the guards modified for featured larger wheel arches to enable wheels to be changed without removing the spats; hydraulic suspension pipes were re-mounted inside the cabin; the dashboards were modified with additional gauges; and Kangaroo bars were fitted to the front.
All three vehicles ran strongly against works entries from BMC Leyland and Ford, from the UK, through Europe, Afghanistan and to India. It was in India the 92 cars were shipped to West Australia for the most grueling legs across the outback to Sydney, in mid-December.
The Vanson/Lemerle car struck suspension trouble before the Mingary checkpoint and dropped down the order, while the Neyret/Terramorsi DS 21plugged on in ninth spot. Up to the final 100-mile run from Nowra to Sydney the Bianchi/Ogier Citroen was ahead of second place’s Andrew Cowan by over 10 minutes, and on one-third the penalty points. Unfortunately, a head-on crash with a spectator vehicle put them out of the race and Bianchi in hospital with serious injuries.
Nothing can be taken away from the three Citroens, though, as they were up against some of the finest rally drivers of the day, including Roger Clark, Paddy Hopkirk and Simo Lampinen, in much younger vehicles!
Motorclassicsa runs from October 23-25 at the Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne for more information visit www.motorclassica.com.au.