1975 CITROEN DS 20 Pallas BVH

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1975 CITROEN DS 20 Pallas BVH



At its debut at the 1955 Paris Motor Show, the Citroen DS didn’t just raise a few eyebrows; it genuinely stunned its audience and set a new benchmark for automotive design in the post-war, space-age era, introducing engineering and aesthetic breakthroughs that influenced designers and engineers for decades to come. No wonder 12,000 advance orders were taken.

It got its futuristic good looks from designer Flaminio Bertoni, while the French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre styled and engineered it.

The Paul Magès-developed hydropneumatic suspension might appear complex but it is actually easily understood. Comprising an engine-driven seven-cylinder axial pump that pressurises a high-pressure regulator and six-nitrogen-filled spheres, the result is a ride that was akin to floating on a magic carpet. Ridiculously, you can even remove a rear wheel and the self-levelling system compensates to allow you to drive it as if nothing is amiss.

This bonkers but hugely impressive system also powers the brakes (which were operated by, of all things, a mushroom button), steering, clutch and - we’re not making this up - the gearbox. Only the engine, which was a hemi-head straight-four derived from the Traction Avant, was of a recognisably conservative design.

But the DS didn’t stop there. Oh no. What else? How about dynamic headlights that followed the front wheels around corners and the first European production car to feature disc brakes?

During its 20-year production cycle it won a Monte Carlo rally, lost its roof (the Décapotable), gained an estate rear-end (the Safari) and stretched to seat eight people in three rows of seats (the Familiale). There were also budget versions (ID), ambulances, and even bulletproof government variants as seen in The Day Of The Jackal.

The Vehicle

Finished in metallic silver grey with a black leather interior, this delightful Citroen DS20 was the second-to-last to roll off the production line in Paris. Built in the summer of 1975 to a backbeat of the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart and Roger Whittaker, it’s fair to say that Citroen had got its eye in by the time this one left the factory.

The vendor has spent £8,000 on it while it’s been in his care and the result is one of the nicest examples we’ve seen in a long time. He reports that he's covered 8,000 “trouble free” miles in it too, so it’s as good to drive as it is to look at.

He tells us he still drives it two or three times a week and is only selling it because of an upcoming house renovation.

On the Outside

A car as beautiful as this doesn’t need gilding, which means the dark grey colour suits its lines perfectly. The faired-in headlamps mark this as a later example but the rear end is still as gloriously OTT as the original show car, and all the better for being so.

It’s in good shape, too. With great panels and a nice lustre to the paint, it presents very well indeed.

The chromework is good too, including the sill plates, which give the illusion of shrinking the car as they reflect the ground’s surface. A sort of 1950s pre-Predator cloaking, if you like.

The powered Webasto Aero-Top sunroof opens and closes as it should, and fits snugly when it’s closed. It’s a great system that floods the cabin with light and fresh air when it’s open yet is almost as civilized as the normal fixed roof when it’s closed.

Indeed, it’s the roof that would be more likely to cause problems rather than the fabric because the surrounding roof is fibreglass, and the joint between it and the rest of the car is notorious for leaking. This was the case here, which led the seller to remove all traces of the old, perished gunk before resealing it with Sikaflex, y’know, the good stuff that’s UK-resistant and will outlast us all. He reports that it’s all water-tight now.

The steel wheels are embellished with chrome hubcaps and fitted with 185R15 ‘Retro’ tyres, all of which have good tread with the exception of the nearside front; better budget for a pair of tyres for that axle plus an alignment check and adjustment.

Other work for you to do? Well, there are a couple of small paint bubbles on the rear removable wing tops (e.g. #138). The rear wings unbolt more easily than any other body you’ll ever have come across, so dropping it off with your local bodyshop for attention should be very straightforward.

Other flaws are minor, i.e. #152 and #153.

On the Inside

Beautifully simple and wonderfully elegant, the DS’s interior is one of the all-time greats. With that iconic single-spoke steering wheel and some of the most comfortable seats in the business, few cars are as unforced in their elegance.

Still featuring the original leather, the front seats are beautifully patinated, something we’d much rather see than something that’s been over-restored and is inappropriately new-looking. Think aging gracefully rather than going full-on Botox.

The rear seats are less creased but still nicely worn in. As you can see from the photos, both front and rear are still plump and undamaged and so more than acceptable as they are.

Wonderful details abound like the Citroen-seatbelt buckles, mushroom brake ‘pedal’, wand-like gearchange, and the stained-glass-window-effect warning light cluster.

The carpets are a bit stained and threadbare but the other issues are minimal.

It does need a new headlining (#90). The powered Webasto sunroof has had one already and this was an involved job that necessitated removing the old, tatty headlining as well as the sunroof itself. It’s all back together now and working as it should but he simply hasn’t got around to fitting a new headlining on the rest of the ceiling.

Those of a fastidious nature might like to consider refurbishing the armrest on the driver’s door (#41), and sorting out the central armrest in the rear (#66) as well.

The wear caused by jangling keys you can see in #45 is, we think, quite charming but we’d understand if you wanted to sort that out, too.


The owner reports that he’s had many parts replaced recently including the alternator, water pump, radiator, steering rack, suspension spheres, ignition barrel, and many hydraulic components and seals.

He’s also upgraded the ignition with a 123 electronic conversion and fitted inner triax gaiters.The vendor has advised that the starter motor can sometimes stick so in the long term replacing this would be advisable.It’s also been treated to two major services.

Please take a look at the attached invoices to understand just how thorough the work was.

The car starts well and runs and ticks over as it should and while the carburettored engine might be a tad less powerful than its fuel-injected sibling, it is much easier to service and maintain, so swings and roundabouts, eh?

The suspension rises and falls on command as it should, so that’s another potential worry taken care of.

The engine bay is nicely presented and home to a full-size spare wheel with a very good tyre.

It’s had repair work to the underside, comprising both sills and repairs to the boot floor. The repairs look to have been neatly done and have been well protected by underseal.

History Highlights

The DS doesn’t have a current MoT certificate, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have it MoT’d at the earliest opportunity. The cost of an MoT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic vehicle, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the car’s condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

The recent Vehicle History Check is clear.

What We Think

While almost every petrolhead has dreamed of owning a Citroen DS at one time, most have backed away, fearful of the big Citroen’s capacity for bankrupting the unwary more quickly than anything this side of a V12 Ferrari.

And yet, your fears are almost certainly unwarranted because, while the Citroen’s engineering might be unconventional, it is surprisingly straightforward.

Nor is it going to cost its new owner a fortune to buy; the seller is a pragmatic man and has agreed that the estimate and reserve must reflect the need for the minor fettling we’ve mentioned.

With a guide price of just £15,000 to £20,000, this must be one of the most attractive examples on sale in the UK today, surely?

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with the vendor in Bradfotd On Avon. To arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.


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  • Location: Bradford-on-Avon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 97350km
  • Chassis Number: DS204729621
  • Engine: 1985cc
  • Gearbox: Semi
  • Steering position: Left-hand drive
  • Colour: Metallic Silver/Grey
  • Interior: Black Leather
  • Estimated Price: £15,000 - £20,000
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