When it was new, owning a Citroen DS was like stepping into an other-worldly car from the future. Own one today, as I do, and it’s like having an other-worldly car from the past. From either perspective everything is different, from its single-nut wheel-fixings to its mushroom-sized brake pedal, from its beautiful roof-mounted rear indicators to its alien, single-spoke steering wheel - everything is imaginative, from its conception to its construction.
This car really was the automobile re-invented, its sleek, tapering bodywork quite unlike anything previously seen, its highly complex, micron-accurate hydraulic systems governing suspension, brakes, steering and a semi-automatic gearchange in gentle, sighing harmony.
All this was wildly pioneering, the DS born of engineers questioning every conventional solution, and rejecting most of them in favour of something alternative and usually, better.
That makes it harder to own one today. Desses need expert tending to keep them fit - though they are amazingly reliable - and require that their drivers relearn, just as they did in 1955. You must grapple with a column shift that triggers the starter, a tiny, over-sensitive brake and gearchanging that will have that shark-like nose rearing with every shift if you’re too brutal. Master it, however, and you’ll ride on air, watching the scenery through a windscreen so panoramic it appears unbounded by pillars.