History of the 1972 - 1975 Citroen DS23
The DS21 was replaced by the DS23 in 1972 with the introduction of Citroen’s 2347cc engine giving 124 hp on carburettors and 141 hp when injected. As before the 4 door saloon body, in this case the Robert Operon face lifted version, was carried over without any change. The choice of 4 speed semi-automatic, 4 speed automatic or 5 speed manual gearboxes were also inherited from the previous model. Having been originally introduced in 1955 this proved to be the final model for the DS with production finally ceasing in 1975.
The convention of having a less sophisticated version, called the “ID”, was continued with some of the power assistance systems removed. An additional model called the DSuper5 was also offered, this being an ID23 with the DS21 engine and the 5 speed gearbox.
The main market for the DS23 was as the 4 door saloon but the previously available body styles were continued. The estate was called the “Break”, “Safari”, “Familiale” or “Station Wagon” dependent on market. It provided a large load carrying capacity with the “Ambulance” also offering an asymmetric split on the folding rear seat. As always the rarest version is the convertible either in the form of the factory “Cabriolet D’Usine” or the privately produced 2 door version by Chapron.
Despite the lack of power the DS saw some success in the sphere of motor sport but this is to ignore its primary intended role as a high end saloon. The DS23 should therefore be seen as a town car with its sophisticated suspension soaking up potholes and rough road surfaces. The engine was showing its age by the early 70’s, having a lineage ultimately traceable to Citroen’s pre-war products. This is coupled with highly sensitive brakes which prove to be satisfactory once you have tuned your right foot to the pressures required.
Rust is the big enemy of the DS, particularly around the boot area, rear chassis and sills. Care should be taken with corrosion and dents away from these areas as well, as rectification work could be costly. Some new panels are available but these fetch a premium. The engines and gearboxes are robust with many refurbished major components available at a price.
Generally the rule is “the later the car the better” with injected models fetching more than their carburettored equivalents. The estate is worth more than the saloon but the cabriolets demand a significantly higher price.
Even at 20 years old there was nothing else quite like the DS about at the time, although familiarity had perhaps dulled the motoring publics’ appreciation of its individuality. However a new aspirational range of cars were emerging and alternatives may be found in the Audi 80, the Ford Granada or if you were looking for something equally quirky perhaps the NSU Ro80?