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DS - the Search for Speed

From its release in 1955, the DS was criticised for inadequate power. Here was a car with superb handling and grip which cried out for more performance. The DS inherited the venerable 1,9 litre four cylinder Sainturat engine from the 11 CV - admittedly breathed upon to provide more power - but even the most hardened worshipper of the Goddess would admit that the engine was low on power and refinement.

Having dropped the horizontally opposed engine project, six avenues were explored -

  1. the development of an all new short stroke 4 cylinder (which saw the light of day in 1966 in the DS 21 and a year later with the revised DS 19);
  2. the development of a V4 supercharged two-stroke engine;
  3. the development of a V6 engine;
  4. the development of a V8 engine;
  5. the use of a Maserati designed V6 which was eventually fitted in the SM;
  6. and that which concerns us here, a reworking of the Sainturat engine.

Capacity was increased from 1.911 cc to 1.987 cc, the cylinder head was redesigned to accommodate two overhead camshafts and 16 valves - this in 1963! The crankshaft acquired 5 bearings and power output was in excess of 125 bhp. An otherwise standard DS fitted with this engine was good for 180 kph at a time when the production car could achieve 150.

A number of design studies for a two door high performance coupť were undertaken throughout the fifties and sixties - those one on the left and below are by Bertoni (note the reverse slope rear window which saw the light of day in the Ami 6).

The early nineteen sixties saw many different proposals, both mechanical and styling, being examined.

By the mid sixties Projet S was effectively redefined. Although very good performance had been extracted from CitroŽn's venerable four cylinder, it was felt that the new car should employ a six cylinder powerplant and rather than a lightweight, DS derived body, Robert Opron was given the brief for a longer, heavier car than the DS.

Thanks to the French fiscal system, cars with engine capacities in excess of 2,8 litres were heavily penalised. Largely for financial reasons, the design of a lightweight, powerful engine with relatively small displacement was not within CitroŽn's capabilities.

Fortunately, the solution was found when CitroŽn signed the PARDEVI accord whereby Fiat took over Michelin's 49% stake in CitroŽn and acquired Maserati from Orsi on 25 October 1968.

Right Bertoni pictured with a scale model of Vťhicule S

A number of prototype vehicles were built, most of them retaining some elements of the DS's styling including this vehicle from 1964 - a shortened, two door coupe some 7 cm lower and than the saloon but retaining the frontal styling. This model was known as the "S" or DS Sport...

Right - the same car fitted with the post 1968 front end

1964 DS Sport technical specification

Number of cylinders

Four

Cubic capacity

1 987 cm3

Camshafts

Twin overhead

Carburettors

2 x Weber twin choke

Max power

93 bhp SAE

Transmission

Front wheel drive via 5 speed manual gearbox with floor mounted lever

Brakes

Discs on all 4 wheels inboard at front

Suspension

Hydropneumatic self levelling

Steering

DIRAVI

Length

4 300 mm

Width

1 790 mm

Height

1 350 mm

Weight 

1 075 kg

Maximum speed

175 kph

Above the 1964 D Sport alongside the regular DS Berline
Left the interior of this prototype was very luxurious

Other prototypes were further removed from the production DS, one built in 1965 being equipped with headlamps mounted in front of the radiator and operating through an opening in the bonnet as shown in the picture on the right which shows the system fitted to an otherwise standard ID 19.

1965 DS Sport technical specification

Number of cylinders 

Four

Cubic capacity

1 987 cm3

Camshafts

Twin overhead

Carburettors

2 x Weber twin choke

Maximum power

130 bhp

Transmission

Front wheel drive via 5 speed manual gearbox, floor mounted lever

Brakes

Discs on all 4 wheels - inboard at front - with pistons built into suspension arms

Suspension

Hydropneumatic self levelling

Steering

DIRAVI

Dimensions

As for 1964 prototype except for the weight which was 1 015 kg

Maximum speed

190 kph

For daytime use, the lights were concealed behind a perspex panel that preserved the line of the bonnet and which would be lowered (hydraulically) when the lights were switched on. The angle of the perspex panel meant that refraction would have rendered the lights ineffective, although for daytime use during flashing of the lights when a properly directed beam was not essential, the panel stayed in place.

This car's bonnet and front wings, together with the windscreen were forward hinged at a point just forward of the radiator making access to the lights and rear spark plug very easy indeed although it is likely that it would have been very heavy since it incorporated the windscreen and lights..

The car was equipped with DIRAVI or Varipower steering.

The spare wheel was mounted at the rear.

As all D owners are aware, access to the rear spark plug is somewhat restricted and headlamp adjustment on the post 1967 models is similarly difficult.

Throughout the sixties, the imminent launch of the Sports DS was rumoured but sadly the car never saw the light of day.
Eventually, the project was redefined as the luxurious, Maserati-powered SM.

Desiring to break the 200 kph limit, research was undertaken in 1966 to create a Sports version of the DS powered by a twin carburettor engine of 2 175 cc capacity developing 125 bhp.

This car employed a shortened, coupť version of the DS body similar to those developed by Ricou and others.

1966 DS Sport technical specification

Number of cylinders 

Four

Cubic capacity

2 175 cm3

Camshafts

Twin overhead

Carburettors

2 x Weber twin choke

Maximum power

124 bhp

Transmission

Front wheel drive via 5 speed manual gearbox, floor mounted lever

Brakes

Discs on all 4 wheels - outboard at front - with pistons built into suspension arms

Suspension

Hydropneumatic self levelling

Steering

DIRAVI

Length

4 630 mm

Width

1 790 mm

Height

1 340 mm

Weight

1 230 kg

Maximum speed

202 kph

© Julian Marsh 1996