Two DS models: one 21 and one 23, both fitted by Chapron and both, interestingly, painted royal blue. Bringing them to Auto e Moto d'Epoca 2019 to share one of the most significant stories of car-manufacturing ever is Club IdéeSse.
The DS model is definitely in the running for one of the most innovative cars of all time. The records speak for themselves: it was the first car to introduce production disc brakes and power steering, the first to feature hydraulic dampers, a semi-automatic gear, and the first with swivel headlights.
Enthusiasts describe it as an innovation lab on wheels which managed to reach great commercial success: approximately one and a half million cars were sold between 1955 and 1975. This is an exceptional number for luxury cars, also considering the historic period in which they appeared. DS - which when said out loud should be pronounced the French way (dey-es) - means "goddess", thus stressing the excellence and uniqueness that this car manufacturing house wanted to give to its flagship vehicle.
Within its great legacy, there is also another great, but more intimate, story: the relationship between Citroën and coachbuilder Henri Chapron. This ingenious car stylist who was affected by the limits of the post-second world war market, like the rest of the French car industry, but the chance to 'reinterpret' the DS in his bodyshop was like a breath of fresh air and gave him new creative stimulus. Chapron started transforming sedans into cabriolets by sawing the shell; soon after, he received a generous offer from Citroën: the house itself would provide the semi-worked shells ready for the transformation, thus avoiding the "trauma" of a drastic intervention on the car and increasing the safety of the modified vehicle.
This information give us some insight into the backstory of the cars exhibited at Auto e Modo d'Epoca 2019: the first model is a 1967 DS21 Cabriolet Usine (usine: fitted by Chapron but sold by the Citroën sales network); the second is a luxury 1975 DS23 IE prestige, a model with very few kilometres on the clock which is being exhibited in Padua for the first time after a detailed refurbishment.