I – sometimes – love it when an evening turns out to be different from the one you thought it would be.
A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends married. Nothing peculiar about that, but one of his friends, who I only met the weekend before at the bachelor’s party, turned up – quite stylishly – with his companion in his 1970 Citroën DS20.
I was quite fascinated by this car. Firstly because one of our neighbours has been driving one for around 30 years, and it is still running. Secondly, because I got a taste of what one felt like from the back seat during the current Citroën DS3’s launch and thirdly because it was one of the most technological advanced cars for its time.
I also appreciate it when an owner knows the history of the car he has bought, or in this case restored. He took us for a quick drive, my wife and I, sitting on what can only be described as the most comfortable seats I have ever sat on. Actually, it is more like a bench, as there is no divider between the rear seat passengers. Old fashioned they might be, but there is no car today that offers seats that you can literally sink into. Over the next 10 minutes he explained, in detail, all the DS20’s features and everyone of my questions were answered correctly.
When he pulled over and offered me the wheel, I obviously grabbed the opportunity.
Built in Zimbabwe from a partly knocked-down kit, this DS20 is one of round 8 000 DS vehicles built in Africa. As you can imagine, with its tricky hydraulic suspension setup, it rides like a dream. You quickly get used to the column-mounted gearshift and the headlights are on par, if not better than, some modern entry-level cars. Before the current owner restored it, he drove the car down from Johannesburg, where he bought it, back to Cape Town. Somehow, with the ease and floating nature of the car, I can easily see myself driving it over such a long distance.
I can carry on for another page about the features of the DS20, but one of the design aspects that stood out for me was the way air is channelled from underneath the car to the radiator and engine (see the picture above). Open the bonnet and you can easily see how the fan is prominently situated, almost in the middle of the engine bay, just behind the spare wheel! A very amusing car and very French.
Have a look at the video to see several DS cars in motion.
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