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CitroŽn DS19 - 1962 Car and Driver test


CITROňN DS 19

Driving the DS 19 makes it apparent that French automotive ingenuity and practicality have not diminished since the early days.


The DS 19 was truly revolutionary when it was announced in the fall of 1955, featuring a centralized hydraulic system for power steering, power brakes, suspension, clutch and gear-change mechanism, plus front disc brakes placed inboard, aerodynamic bodywork with complete undershield, and a number of carefully thought-out details that are not immediately apparent. Since then, development work has never ceased, and our reacquaintance with this car, although providing no surprises, confirmed the fulfilment of its early promises, made after what was, in effect, more than two decades of development work.

The famous “Traction” - predecessor of the current large CitroŽns (DS 19 and ID 19, the latter being non-automatic) - remained in production for 21 years with only minor outward changes. The first front-drive CitroŽn was shown in 1933 with a 1.7-liter engine, which was soon enlarged to two liters. In 1934 a convertible version with a four-liter V8 also appeared but never reached series production. The six-cylinder 2.8-liter was introduced in1938. This model remained in production after the war and was chosen as the basis for development of the oleo-pneumatic suspension now used as standard equipment on ID and DS 19 models.

The car combines very soft seats (and soft floor mats) with a superlative ride and road-holding making it one of the safest cars in existence for all-round motoring. It has proved itself a desirable rally car capable of winning the toughest long-distance events (Monte Carlo Rally 1959, Liege-Sofia-Liege 1961) while retaining all the qualities of the family car. The effortless steering and braking no doubt play a large part in limiting driver fatigue, and the reclining seats enable the passenger to adopt a really restful position. The back-seat comfort is in a class of its own, with more than adequate legroom and headroom, both difficult to obtain in modern streamlined sedans.

We found that the front seats could with advantage have offered a little more lateral support to the back. The controls are on the whole sensibly placed, but the handbrake release could be reached only by leaning forward and bending down. The gearshift with the automatic clutch works beautifully once one gets used to finding the correct throttle openings for up and down-changes, but it should be mentioned that it is not foolproof. First gear is not synchronized, and reverse can only be engaged from first, i.e., without passing through neutral. Accordingly, when backing up, the car must be brought to a complete stop before the lever is moved from the reverse position. The synchromesh on the upper three ratios is very good and could not be beaten.

The automatic dry single-plate clutch can be adjusted for engagement rapidity, and will give satisfactory results for any kind of use. The world has perhaps ceased to be amazed at the brakes of this car. The little rubber button on the floor which operates the power brakes has excellent feel and seems to have no limit but the coefficient of friction between tire and road surface. If the term confidence-inspiring sums up the impression on the driver, we feel after witnessing a series of crash stops in roadside safety that any amount of confidence will be fully justified.

Owing to an almost total absence of wind noise (“almost” only on the test car which had an outside mirror and a side-mounted radio aerial), the engine could be heard when running near peak rpm, but when cruising in the fifties, the silence is so uncanny that one has to concentrate on tire noise to have any impression of speed other than visual.

Before the introduction of the DS 19, it was rumoured as being powered by a flat-six engine. CitroŽn spokesmen have admitted to flat-six units having been designed and tested - as well as many other forms of engine. Whatever type of engine will eventually replace the sturdy four which now propels the DS, it has a chassis with the capacity to hold a lot of extra power - and brakes to stop it. If acceleration is not sizzling, it must be remembered that this is a very roomy, and rather heavy, model which combines high cruising speeds with astonishing fuel economy.

Even on the fastest corners, the DS refuses to get “bent,”accounting for the unruffled composure it displays here.
All the major mechanical components are mounted over the front wheels for traction, allowing a smooth underside.
The balance of the car is such that it will stand and can actually be driven with one rear wheel entirely removed.
05.jpg
Left to change a rear tire, the car is jacked on its hydraulic system, the fender removed and the one-nut fastener undone.
Above the latest DS models have this plush interior with revised dashboard layout, a big glove compartment and soft seats

To call the DS 19 an amazing car is an understatement. Aside from the combination of driver/passenger comfort and performance, its price includes other notable features. Among these are such details as the small drain tube built into the trunk lock to eliminate freeze-up, the rear window defroster unit and the hood and trunk lid design. The hood is made in such a way that if it blows open and back over the windshield, the driver will still be able to see the road ahead because of the position of its hinges. Bulky packages can be carried in the trunk with its lid up without obstructing vision also. But the novelty of the car, while having some value, is not its enduring characteristic. The true worth of the DS 19 would seem to be its solid engineering basis and execution which become more apparent as the miles glide by.

Road Test:

CITROňN DS 19
Price as tested: $3245 POE New York
Importer:
CitroŽn Cars Corporation
300 Park Avenue
New York 22, New York


ENGINE


Displacement

118 cu in. 1911 cc

Dimensions

 4 cyl. 3.08 in bore, 3.96 in stroke

Valve gear

Pushrod-operated in-line overhead valves

Compression ratio

8.5 to one

Power (SAE)

83 bhp @ 4500 rpm

Torque

105 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

Usable range of engine speeds

500 - 5250 rpm

Corrected piston speed @ 4500 rpm

2600 fpm

Fuel recommended

Regular

Mileage

25 - 33 mpg

Range on 18 gallon tank

450 - 600 miles

CHASSIS


Wheelbase

123 in

Tread

F 59 1/4 in, R 51 1/2 in

Length

180 in

Ground clearance

6 in (normal)

Suspension

F. ind., wishbones and oleo-pneumatic struts, anti-roll bar

R. Ind., trailing arms and oleo-pneumatic struts, anti-roll bar

Turns lock to lock

3

Turning circle diameter, between curbs

L 35 1/2, R 37 ft

Tire and rim size

165 x 400, 15 x 4 1/2 J

Pressures recommended

F 24, R 20 psi

Brakes, type, swept area

11 1/2-inch discs front, 10 inch drums rear, 338 sq in

Curb weight (full tank)

2760 lbs

Percentage on the driving wheels

65.5

DRIVE TRAIN


Gear

Synchro?

Ratio

Step

Overall

Mph per
1000 rpm

Rev

No

4.43

--

14.82

- 5.2

1st

No

4.16

99%

13.79

5.6

2nd

Yes

2.09

45%

6.96

11.3

3rd

Yes

1.44

44%

4.77

16.1

4th

Yes

1.00

--

3.31

23.2

Final drive ratio: 3.31 to one


ACCELERATION


Zero to

Seconds

30 mph

5.8

40 mph

8.5

50 mph

11.9

60 mph

16.8

70 mph

23.9

80 mph

33.0

Standing quarter mile

21.2


© 1962 Car and Driver/2017 CitroŽnŽt