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.

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