CITROEN DS23 PALLAS
When in 1955 Citroen released its DS19 ‘Goddess’, media commentators reviewed the car in tones previously reserved for objects arriving from the depths of outer space.
Hydro-pneumatic suspension, assistance systems for the steering, brakes and gearshift lever and inboard front disc brakes were among the advances pioneered by this extraordinary design.
By 1968 the rest of the world had begun adopting aspects of Citroen’s radical package; however, Citroen wasn’t finished exploring the range of quirks it could pack into a medium-sized sedan. One new feature to perplex the home mechanic was a link that would swivel headlights in unison with the front wheels.
The car’s ability to traverse rough terrain was proved in 1969 when a Citroen was set to win the first London-Sydney Marathon, only to be taken out in a serious collision with a spectator vehicle. Five years later, the Australian crew of a DS23 got the job done, dominating a 1974 World Cup Rally that sent competitors from South America to Munich via the Sahara Desert.
Maintaining a DS is work for specialist technicians or perhaps the seriously talented amateur. There is barely room under the bonnet of a Pallas to see engine components, let alone put a spanner on them.
Three-speed automatics were plagued by problems and remain difficult to maintain, so get a five-speed manual if you can. Overseas values are providing a big hint that anyone who wants a really good Pallas needs to act soon. Be prepared to invest the better part of $50,000. Of several thousand cars sold new in Britain, fewer than 300 are known to survive and numbers in Australia will be far slimmer.
TRAPS AND TIPS
Packing a mass of electro/mechanical/hydraulic bits plus the complete drivetrain into a small space ahead of the firewall didn’t help Citroen’s reputation for reliability.
Keeping your Citroen cool is vital to engine longevity and that can be costly. One spare parts site was quoting authentic but renovated radiators at more than $1000. Replacing the coolant hoses with a set of genuine items will cost more than $300.
Citroen club sites of late have carried requests for help in locating a competent trimmer for DS models. This suggests that finding someone to repair a car with worn seats and compromised head-lining has become challenging.