The car of the future came to an unceremonious end 38 years ago today, when the last Citroen DS rolled off the automaker’s plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France.
To say the DS stunned the automotive world upon its launch in 1955 is perhaps an understatement. Not only did the car look like a flying saucer, but it was nothing short of a technological marvel. A hydropneumatic system controlled both the disc brake system and the power steering rack, but also the suspension system., which could be raised and lowered to various heights and support the car on three wheels if a fourth was blown out.
The DS went nearly a decade before Citroen saw the need to update its styling; a refresh in 1968 ushered in a new nose with fared-in headlamps, along with a new dashboard and interior trims. The millionth DS was built in late 1969, but 1970 proved to be the DS’ best year ever, with 103,633 cars rolling off the assembly line.
By that time, Citroen was aware that the DS’ basic form was close to 15 years old (its four-cylinder engines were older yet), and began development of the DS’ successor. That car – the CX – debuted in 1974, and essentially sounded the death knell of the DS. DS volumes amounted to 40,039 in 1974, and only 847 cars in 1975. The last car – a teal sedan – was the 1,330,755th DS ever manufactured. The Aulnay-sous-Bois line quickly ramped up CX production volumes, and that model served as Citroen’s flagship sedan until its demise in 1991.
Although Citroen revived the DS name for a new brand of premium models (i.e. DS3, DS5, and so on), none quite follow entirely in the original DS’ sizable footsteps. The Citroen C6, which was discontinued in 2012, was perhaps the closest thing to a modern-day successor, and there’s no word if Citroen plans on replacing it with a DS-branded large sedan.