Citroën DS Safari

Citroën DS Safari

Sensational on its introduction in 1955 and still extraordinary today, the Citroën DS in any of its forms is a comfortable and fantastically stylish classic. The futuristic looks and the sound if unconventional engineering give it a unique appeal that hasn’t dampened almost 70 years on. The station wagon variant – known variously as Safari (UK and Australia), Break (France) and Wagon (USA) – was added to the range in 1958. ‘Of all the DS models, this is the most practical, with its fantastic load-carrying qualities and superb hydropneumatic suspension,’ says classic car assessor Brian Page. ‘If you have a big family or lots of friends you could even go for the Familiale version, which has eight seats.’


TIPPED BY BRIAN PAGE

Page reckons the best Safaris to aim for are later models with the facelift front end penned by Robert Opron in 1967. The US version has four exposed headlamps instead of the two of earlier cars, while in the rest of the world the four lamps are under a glass cover, and the inner lamps are connected to the steering by cables so they swivel in a bend. The DS rolls in corners but its ride quality is top-notch. ‘They’re so smooth to drive on any surface,’ says Page. ‘I believe the type is under-rated especially in the UK.’

Front-wheel drive was common to all models. Early DS19 Safaris will have the 75bhp, 1911cc engine, a long-stroke four which was carried over from the Traction Avant. That was replaced in 1965 by a 98bhp, 1985cc five-bearing unit and these cars were known as DS20 from 1969. There was also a 108bhp, 2175cc DS21 and 114bhp, 2347cc DS23. Four and five-speed manuals, a four-speed semi-automatic and a three-speed automatic were offered, all with column change. The secret to DS happiness, according to Page, is to spend your money on a sound car rather than aim to make a shabby one better. ‘Very good examples that have been restored well are few and far between. They’re difficult to restore well so the costs to restore outstrip the costs to buy. Definitely buy the best you can afford because it’s cheaper in the long run.

Bonhams sold the 1974 Citroen DS23 Safari pictured above for £14,950 in 2019. ‘Today a superb example should cost around £25k,’ advises Brian. ‘Avoid neglected and un-cared for cars, poorly repaired ones or examples that need considerable work, unless you’re a hydropneumatic specialist! Look out for leaking suspension, steering and clutch, plus corrosion in the main structure underneath the outer panels.’

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