Citroen DS23 Pallas review

By: Cliff Chambers/Paul Blank, Photography by: Unique Cars/Wheels archives/Marque publishing

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Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas
Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas
Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas
Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas
Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas Citroen DS23 Pallas

Overseas values are providing a big hint that anyone who wants a really good Pallas needs to act soon

Citroen DS23 Pallas review
Tempting tasaters: Citroen DS23 Pallas

 

Tempting testers: Bargains for the brave

CITROEN DS23 PALLAS

When in 1955 Citroen released its DS19 ‘Goddess’, media commentators reviewed the car in tones previously reserved for objects arriving from the depths of outer space.

Hydro-pneumatic suspension, assistance systems for the steering, brakes and gearshift lever, and inboard front disc brakes were among the advances pioneered by this extraordinary design.

By 1968 the rest of the world had begun adopting aspects of Citroen’s radical package; however, Citroen wasn’t finished exploring the range of quirks it could pack into a medium-sized sedan. One new feature to perplex the home mechanic was a link that would swivel headlights in unison with the front wheels.

The car’s ability to traverse rough terrain was proved in 1969 when a Citroen was set to win the first London-Sydney Marathon, only to be taken out in a serious collision with a spectator vehicle. Five years later, the Australian crew of a DS23 got the job done, dominating a 1974 World Cup Rally that sent competitors from South America to Munich via the Sahara Desert.

Maintaining a DS is work for specialist technicians or perhaps the seriously talented amateur. There is barely room under the bonnet of a Pallas to see engine components, let alone put a spanner on them.

Three-speed automatics were plagued by problems and remain difficult to maintain, so get a five-speed manual if you can. Overseas values are providing a big hint that anyone who wants a really good Pallas needs to act soon. Be prepared to invest the better part of $50,000. Of several thousand cars sold new in Britain, fewer than 300 are known to survive and numbers in Australia will be far slimmer.

TRAPS AND TIPS

Packing a mass of electro/mechanical/hydraulic bits plus the complete drivetrain into a small space ahead of the firewall didn’t help Citroen’s reputation for reliability.

Keeping your Citroen cool is vital to engine longevity and that can be costly. One spare parts site was quoting authentic but renovated radiators at more than $1000. Replacing the coolant hoses with a set of genuine items will cost more than $300.

Citroen club sites of late have carried requests for help in locating a competent trimmer for DS models. This suggests that finding someone to repair a car with worn seats and compromised head-lining has become challenging.

 

FROM THE WHEELS ARCHIVES
Words: Paul Blank - January, 2005

The DS was spectacularly bold, wrote Paul Blank...

When the time came to replace the Traction Avant, the resulting car could be expected to be absolutely amazing – and it was.

The new car, launched at the Paris Salon in 1955, was called DS, which, when pronounced in French, is "Day-ess", which translates to Goddess. At the Paris Salon an amazing number of orders were taken for the new car – some 12,000 people signing on the dotted line.

In 1955 Australians were buying new FJ Holdens and the Morris Minor was considered a modern small car in England. The DS might as well have been a spaceship in comparison. It certainly looked like
nothing else.

The car floated along at any speed. Famously, the DS featured Hydropneumatic suspension. It had the cars sitting on suspension units which were steel spheres in place of traditional springs and shock absorbers. The ride in a DS has to be experienced to be believed. Even if a tyre blew, the car would compensate.

Another DS feature was the use of disc brakes. It was Citroen which first fitted them to a mass-production car.

Inside, the DS was as spectacularly bold as the rest of the car. In an era of flat tin or wood dashboards, Citroen used the biggest single piece of moulded plastic in the world. The DS in not a complicated car; just very different.

You know the car’s ready when first the back, then the front of the car lift up to normal ride height. To change gear, you lift off, switch to the next gear and accelerate away again. Then you have to learn about the brakes. Where you might expect a brake pedal, there’s a black rubber mushroom. It works like a valve operating by the "the harder you push, the more you stop" system, with almost no pedal travel available.

The DS isn’t a sports car; it’s a real Grand Tourer and, treated as such, provides a magical experience.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Citroen DS23 Pallas

Number built: 582,593 (All ID/DS 1968-75)
Body: All-steel, integrated body/chassis 4-door sedan and station wagon
Engine: 2347cc inline 4-cylinder, OHV, 8v, fuel injection
Power & torque: 105kW @ 5500rpm, 200Nm @ 4000rpm
Performance: 0-97km/h 10.2sec; 0-400m 17.3sec
Transmission: 3-speed automatic, 5-speed manual
Suspension: Independent with wishbones, pneumatic struts and anti-roll bar (f); Independent with trailing arms, pneumatic struts and anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: Discs, power-assisted
Tyres: 185HR15 radial
Price range: $6000-$35,000
Contact: Citroen Clubs in various states,
http://www.ds23.co.nz/

 

*****

More reviews:

> Classic metal: Citroen DS convertible

> Citroen 2CV

 
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