To be OFFERED AT AUCTION at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale event, April 1-3, 2016.
Estimate: $ 85,000 - $110,000 US
Used by everyone from the humble cabbie to the president himself, the Citroen DS is an icon, and the Decapotable ranks among its most sought-after variants. Designer Flaminio Bertoni planned a convertible when the DS19 was launched in 1955, but teething troubles put the brakes on the idea. Many of the 80,000 buyers who placed orders at the show were still waiting two years later.
The DS19 relied on a complex, integrated hydraulic system to control the suspension, steering, gearshift, and brakes. Critical tolerances were at the limits of available tooling, and mechanics were baffled, especially when workshop manuals were delayed. However, the DS’ rigid box chassis and unstressed skin meant a convertible was an attractive possibility, and coachbuilder Chapron stepped forward. His “La Croisette” cabriolet, named for the promenade in Cannes, appeared in 1958. Citroen refused to sell Chapron separate chassis, so he was reduced to buying complete cars and dismantling them. Even after the firm relented and had Chapron build “Usine,” or factory cabriolets, in 1961, he continued making his own customs.
In all, there were 1,365 factory cabriolets built: 770 DS19s, 483 DS21s, and 112 ID19s. Never common, the popularity of the cabriolet has never waned. Citroen was still receiving orders long after official production ceased in 1971, with the last car completed in (it is thought, as accounts differ) 1974. The cabriolets were outfitted in the height of luxury. There were 15 paint choices, 13 shades of leather upholstery, and three carpet colors, allowing more than 76 possible combinations. Engines ranged from 66 horsepower at first, to 141 horsepower. Despite apparent similarities with the sedans, there are critical differences between real DS convertibles and the homemade variety.
True cabriolets have doors four inches longer than the sedans and use double latches. Two strips of brightwork run along the side of the car, one at the crease of the door and one at the rocker panel. The tail is one long, sweeping piece, and the trunklid is fiberglass. Cabriolets also have two jacking points along the side, as the rear fender does not remove like on the sedan, so the car must be lifted higher to change the wheel.
This cosmetically restored DS21 is not one of the precious few by the established Henri Chapron coachbuilding house, but is a nicely executed example that was done by an unnamed private concern. The desire to have such an esteemed Citroen is understandable and when the number of original cars is minimal, it creates the opportunity for additional cars to be built by talented individuals in the form of the originals.
This is reported as a sound example; remember only 483 DS21 factory cabriolets were built by Chapron and this lovely car mimics it well. The Citroen is driven by a 2,175-cc, 139-hp OHV four-cylinder engine that is paired to a three-speed automatic transmission. Rich interior fitting with piping on the seats, radio, power steering and power brakes add to the uncommon driving experience. Citroen cabriolets are extremely desirable and display a romantic quality; these original values are represented well in this car. 1966 Citroen DS21 Decapotable