Monday, October 24, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 Citroën DS21 Pallas

I've thus far been fortunate to come across not one but three Citroën DSs in San Francisco. Of those, I've been able to photograph two of them in depth. The first was the grey 1970 DS21 I spotted in the Lower Haight, another was a clean black example I caught driving in the east Mission near Potrero Hill (only got one or two shots of that while it was stopped in traffic). And then there was this one, found near the famous twists of Lombard Street on Russian Hill.

I first found out about this car when I saw some lovely high-resolution shots of it on Flickr, and I knew I'd have to find it. It took a few tries to locate it, but eventually I managed to track it down. You wouldn't believe how tricky it is to chase a parked car, even one that lives there. The pictures looked wonderful. Then I found the car, and darn it if it hasn't been through the wringer. I expected some bruises; I mean the poor car lives on the street. I didn't expect the entire right quarter panel to be missing. It certainly begs the question of what the heck this car's gone through, with random dents, gouges and bent trim pieces all over -- and yet the interior, based on my quick and basic visual inspection, looked nearly mint. Viewed from the front passenger 3/4 angle, the car seems almost perfect, until your eye travels back to the gaping hole where once there was shiny, brown-painted sheetmetal.

I am guessing that this example is a 1969 model based on the color (Brun Ecorce, supposedly a rare, 1969-only color) and the metal trim plates over the front corner indicator mounting locations. Other areas in which this car differs from the grey 1970 car are the lack of side markers/reflectors, and all rear-facing light lenses are red (the 1970 model has white reverse lights and orange rear indicators atop the C-pillars). This car also has chrome side trim which wraps around the rear end reflectors, a feature which came with the luxurious Pallas trim level. The most drastic difference is the interior. The 1970 car has a more modern dash design with three primary gauges set deep within individual tunnels, while this car has everything set within a smaller rectangle, and has a more open feel at the expense of a smaller glove compartment. Also note the location of the (aftermarket) radio clear on the right side. Hope you like the station, because unless you have a passenger or long arms, it's going to stay there for the duration of the trip. And no, the rubberized steering wheel wrap isn't stock, nor is the third brake light mounted in the rear window.

Considering that I have never liked the styling of the Citroën DS enough to gush the same praise others have for it, I have always respected it as a revolutionary car. If this car saw a proper restoration It would surely be the star of the block. I wonder if the hydropneumatic suspension still works.

1 comment:

  1. Even in that condition, it looks a lot more distinctive and prestigious than the modern mercedes parked next to it!