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The DS' peers in 1956

It is easy to forget precisely how far ahead of its time the DS was when it went on sale in 1955.

With a four cylinder engine of 1 911cm3 offering 75 bhp and a top speed of 145 kph - the DS looked and drove like nothing else and twenty years later was still ahead of the game.

Its contemporaries invariaby had rear wheel drive, live rear axles, drum brakes and all the aerodynamics of a house brick.  They all look terribly old-fashioned compared with the DS.

In Italy, the DS was up against the Alfa Romeo 1900 TI - equipped with a four cylinder engine of 1 975cm3, it produced 115 bhp and offered a top speed of 160 kph

In England, thanks to import taxes, the DS was invariably up against much more powerful machinery like the Austin A95 Westminster with its six cylinder 2 639cm3 engine that produced 92 bhp and had a top speed of 144 kph

In Germany, the BMW 501/6 also had six cylinders and a capacity of 2 077cm3 offering 72 bhp and a top speed of 145 kph

Also from Germany was the Borgward Hansa 2400 with a six cylinder engine of 2 240cm3 offering 115 bhp and a top speed of 160 kph

Italy's biggest motor manufacturer, Fiat, offered the 1900B with a four cylinder 1 901cm3 engine offering 80 bhp and a top speed of 145 kph

In Britain, Ford offered the Zephyr with a six cylinder 2 553cm3 engine offering 90 bhp and a top speed of 135 kph

Another British competitor was the Humber Hawk with a four cylinder 2 267cm3 engine offering 71 bhp and a top speed of 135 kph

Again in Britain, Jaguar offered the Mk1 2.4 litre with a six cylinder 2483cm3 engine producing 114 bhp and giving a top speed of 165 kph

There was one other manufacturer in Europe making advanced cars - Tatra in Czechoslovakia produced the wonderful 603 powered by an air-cooled, rear-mounted V8 of 2545cm3 producing 95 bhp and a top speed of 160 kph.  However, they were only ever built in small quantities.