Just as it had done 21 years previously with the revolutionary 'Traction Avant', Citroën stunned the world again in 1955 with the launch of the futuristically styled 'DS'. Beneath the shark-like newcomer's aerodynamically efficient, low-drag bodyshell there was all-independent, self-levelling, hydro-pneumatic suspension; plus power-operated brakes, clutch and steering. No European car would match the DS's ride quality for several years, the fundamental soundness of Citroën's ahead-of-its-time hydro-pneumatic suspension being demonstrated by its survival in its present-day top-of-the-range models. The DS's original 1,911cc, overhead-valve, long-stroke engine was replaced in 1966 by a short-stroke 1,985cc unit, also available in 2,175cc and 2,347cc versions, while other DS developments included swivelling headlights, fuel injection and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Other models offered alongside the original DS were the ID (a simplified, cheaper version), the cavernous Safari estate and the two-door Décapotable (convertible), the latter boasting coachwork by Henri Chapron. Right-hand drive versions were assembled in England at Citroën's Slough factory up to 1966, whereupon manufacture of all RHD models reverted to France. By the time production ceased in April 1975, more than 1.3 million of these wonderfully idiosyncratic cars had been built.
Built to top-of-the-range Pallas specification, this late, right-hand drive DS23 has the powerful 2.3-litre engine and the desirable five-speed manual gearbox, while the optional - and very rare - full-length Webasto sunroof is particularly noteworthy. The car was purchased by the immediately preceding owner some 18 years ago and subsequently underwent a sympathetic programme of renovation undertaken between 2003 and 2011, costing more than £12,000.
The current vendor purchased the Citroën in September 2011 since when it has not been used. The car is operational, including replacing the battery, but may well require further re-commissioning following its lengthy period in dry storage. Handsomely finished in black with matching leather interior, this beautiful example of one of the 20th Century's most enduring automotive style icons is offered with a V5 registration document.