Citroen DS - world's coolest cars

Our coolest car of all time is the Citroen DS, a technological masterpiece with styling to match

Years: 1955-1975Number built: 1.46million

According to our readers, if there's one car that is the absolute epitome of cool, it's the Citroen DS. It's not the fastest or the most exclusive car in our list, but it certainly has style and clever engineering on its side, while the DS name is a play on the French word for Goddess (déesse). You can easily envisage the DS wafting serenely around Paris, along the Champs Elysee and around the Arc De Triomphe before parking up in front of a cafe in the city.

When the DS was revealed at the Paris Motor Show in 1955, its slippery shape wowed the crowds, and Citroen took nearly 20,000 orders for the car on its first day on display. It became a symbol of French innovation, thanks to advanced hydropneumatic suspension that included a self-levelling function that allowed the DS to deliver a comfortable ride on even the rough roads that were common in France at the time. The suspension could also be raised or lowered, while the pressure in the system drops when the engine is switched off, lowering the DS to the ground in that distinctive way that's so familiar of the car.

• Most expensive cars sold at auction

The innovations didn't end with the suspension, as disc brakes, power steering and a hydraulically-controlled four-speed manual gearbox with no clutch pedal also featured on the DS. A fibreglass roof helped save weight, while a wide front track compared with that at the rear boosted the front-wheel-drive DS's handling.

Cool cars: the top 10 coolest cars - Citroen DS rear

Throughout its life, the DS had a number of innovations added, including directional headlamps that turned by up to 80 degrees in line with the steering. Self-levelling headlights were also added to cope with changes in the car's pitch when accelerating and braking.

One area where the DS was a little backward was its engine, because the original car used a development of the four-cylinder unit found in the Traction Avant, which the DS replaced. That engine could trace its roots to the 1930s, and was used after Citroen had abandoned plans to fit the DS with a new air-cooled flat-six. The DS never really had the power to match some executive car rivals, thanks to France's taxation rules, but the addition of fuel injection and bigger engines over its life cycle helped matters. Having said that, the most powerful DS23 still only had 141bhp.

As well as a four-door saloon, the DS was also sold as a Safari estate, and there were convertible versions offered, too. The DS proved popular with French heads of state - President Charles De Gaulle praised the DS after an assassination attempt on him failed because the standard DS he was riding in managed to escape danger, despite being riddled with bullet holes. But the DS also gained popularity as a taxi in France, while success on rallies such as the Monte Carlo and marathon events like the London-Sydney rally demonstrated the car's reliability.

Cool cars: the top 10 coolest cars - Citroen DS interior

The DS remained in production for 20 years, unheard of in these days of five-year life cycles, and nearly 1.5 million were made in that time. It left a legacy that saw Citroen launch DS as a separate luxury brand in 2010, while the original DS is now a sought-after classic that commands a premium at auctions across the globe - it was even voted the most beautiful car of all time in a poll of 20 leading car designers.

And of course, the car's appearance in popular culture has cemented its place as the coolest car ever. Celebrity owners included cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and artist Marc Chagall, while movie appearances include as a flying taxi in Back To The Future Part 2, where it picked up passengers in 2015, 60 years after it was first revealed... 

Top 10 coolest cars in the world

Recommended

2022 Citroen Berlingo and SpaceTourer MPVs go electric-only
Citroen e-Spacetourer
Citroen

2022 Citroen Berlingo and SpaceTourer MPVs go electric-only

Citroen has eliminated combustion power for its Berlingo and SpaceTourer people-carriers, with the all-electric models receiving a price reduction
10 Jan 2022
New custom liveries for Citroen Ami quadricycle launched
Citroen Ami livery - Cindy
Citroen

New custom liveries for Citroen Ami quadricycle launched

The new decorative graphics are only available in Europe for the time being, but Citroen says they could come to the UK with the Ami in 2022
8 Oct 2021
“Citroen has shaken up the electric car market like no brand before”
Opinion - Citroen Ami grey
Citroen

“Citroen has shaken up the electric car market like no brand before”

At around £6k the Citroen Ami is the most significant EV breakthrough moment for Brit consumers, says Mike Rutherford
4 Oct 2021
Citroen rolls out the Skate – a modular autonomous EV for the future
Citroen Skate 1
Citroen

Citroen rolls out the Skate – a modular autonomous EV for the future

The Citroen Skate is a self-driving EV platform, onto which can be attached a range of pods suitable for transporting people, goods and services aroun…
29 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Top 10 best hybrid cars to buy 2022
Best hybrid cars - header image
Hybrid cars

Top 10 best hybrid cars to buy 2022

Hybrid power is the way forward if the car industry is to be believed so we've found the top 10 best hybrid cars to buy now...
2 Jan 2022
Volkswagen teases upcoming high performance Golf
Volkswagen Golf GTI 2022
News

Volkswagen teases upcoming high performance Golf

A more sporting Volkswagen Golf is in the works, and could sit above the GTI Clubsport and R as a hardcore special
17 Jan 2022
New 2022 Citroen C5 X: UK prices and specs revealed
Citroen C5 X - front
Citroen C5

New 2022 Citroen C5 X: UK prices and specs revealed

Petrol and plug-in hybrid power offered with new Citroen C5 X, and a premium-brand-beating price
17 Jan 2022