Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On the Road with Savoir Faire

A lot of you will notice that if you look closely at the photograph on Savoir Faire's header that a car is parked by the curb in the background of the shot. The Citroen DS.

Now over here at Savoir Faire we don’t profess to know much about cars. I have always relied on what I like without thinking of the mechanics of cars, which has led in the past to some very unfortunate purchases. As with all things in life I look at style and the inherent design behind things and one car that has always stood out for me was the Citroen DS series.

In this day and age of mass production with all models and makes being somewhat indistinguishable from each other something that stands out immediately gets my vote. There used to be a time especially among European manufacturers where particular makes and models always stood out as being instantly recognisable as Saab, Volvo, Mercedes Benz and Citroens.

The Citroën DS was an executive car produced by the French manufacturer Citroën between 1955 and 1975. Styled by Italian sculptor and industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni and the French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre, the DS was known for its aerodynamic futuristic body design. Citroën sold nearly 1.5 million D-series during the model's 20-year production run. The DS came in third in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, recognizing the world's most influential auto designs, and was named the most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sports Car magazine.

When it was first unveiled on 5 October 1955 at the Paris Motor Show, in the first 15 minutes of the show, 743 orders were taken, and orders for the first day totaled 12,000. Now that is really something. Together with remarkable styling and technical innovations, including a hydro pneumatic self leveling suspension, it captured global imagination.

It came at a time when France was still reeling from the effects of World War II and still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of war. It came to symbolize French ingenuity and also positioned France’s relevance in the Space Age. Structuralist philosopher Roland Barthes, in an essay about the car, said that it looked as if it had "fallen from the sky".

The DS has been used in many film and television productions, has inspired artists, and was associated with the French state and French society for many years having been the official car for government departments and the police force.

President Charles de Gaulle praised the unusual abilities of his unarmored DS with saving his life during the assassination attempt at Petit-Clamart on 22 August 1962. Gun shots had blown two of the tires, but the car could still escape at full speed. This event was accurately recreated for The Day of the Jackal.

I would have dearly loved to own one of these; however it was not to be so. Seeing one always signified great style and savoir faire to me.


  1. loved this! and I would love to be driving clients around in that car!

  2. I love the fact that both a sculptor and an engineer worked on the design of this car together. I've been reading a lot about design thinking and creative quotients lately; specially how most traditional companies still don't get that creativity is viable resource just like financing and real estate. Great example of creativity leveraged to achieve results. As always, thanks for sharing

  3. I once impressed a boy by knowing that a certain car was a Citroen.

  4. Hello:
    What a splendid post which has brought back so many memories, previously forgotten, of this iconic car. We have so enjoyed looking at the old black and white images - an absolute step back in time.
    As a boy at prep school in the mid 1950s I recall the parents of my friend, 'Piggy' Crowther, purchasing such a Citroen, obviously soon after it came out. The great excitement was not only was it 'foreign' [as opposed to the conservative Jaguar which my father owned], but that its height from the ground automatically adjusted according to the weight of the load - passengers - being carried.

  5. David, this definitely rates as "Interesting" and "Cool!" Like you, I've never understood why auto designers would want their make to look like every other car on the road. I enjoyed the time when all the makes had such distinctive looks.

  6. Me likey! I'd be willing to become as infatuated with cars as most Americans if Citroens were still available.

  7. Iconic! Once, I had a ride in one of them. Everything inside was kind of futuristic too. A treat for the senses.

  8. What a coincidence.
    Another post about fantastic cars today.
    I swear it's true, I owned a DS.
    Or better to say my fiancé (whom I dumped years ago) was the biggest fan of this special car and brought one into our relationship.
    Maybe it was a fault to leave him and not to keep the car.
    I have some doubts now when I watch the photos *LOL*

  9. What a stunningly elegant car...


  10. David I so agree. There are very few cars that withstand the test of time. The ones that 'get cooler' as they age and those that become an eyesore. The Citroen will remain cool for all time, like James Dean!

    You have excellent taste : )

  11. They are such an icon of cool! My boys and i saw one just the other day and they were intrigued by it. Just goes to show, true style is always a head turner, no matter what the age.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post! Such a great idea to blog about it. Beautiful photos, creative and intelligent at the same time.

    Cheers! =(^.^)=

  13. I agree with Karl Lagerfeld that car and clothing design are very closely related and they are ephemeral reflections of a particular year and style.

    In some views, this Citroën is reminiscent of the Jaguar and Porche of the time. I understand that as well as looking good, it was very comfortable, with some sort of innovative hydraulic suspension that gave it a smooth ride. It is a good indication of design quality, when a car like this, or the VW Beetle, or any consumer product for that matter, is in production for decades.

    I find the cars of today, even prestige brands like Mercedes, exceedingly ugly and cheap looking. They all have clumsy jelly bean profiles and fat rear ends that lack grace and elegance. No wonder fashion editors inevitably use vintage cars rather than current models in their photo shoots.

  14. I am really enjoyed reading this post! and Such a great idea to blog about it. Beautiful photos, creative and intelligent at the same time..................

  15. Love that car.
    Very Fantomas!

  16. Many thanks all for all your wonderful comments.

    Jill, how impressive are you??

    Rhonya, many thanks for your visit!

    Mr SWF, yes it had this wonderful hydraulic system that automatically adjusted itself based on the weight of the passengers inside.

    Jules,, I hope that you let your boys read this post!

    Deb, you are so right. Absolutely timeless.

    Joe, you should have kept the car!

    Pearl, thank you so much for your visit and comment!

    Il duce, I knew you would likey.

    Jane and Lance you have the most wonderful stories!

  17. someone once commented to me, "no one
    ever copied the french when it came to cars."

    i shot him in the head and watched him bleed to death....
    in my renault.

  18. Norma, I hope that you took the number plates of your Renault so no one coud trace you.


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