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1968

UPDATED
4/2024

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Citroën sold 943 cars in the USA in 1968*. Almost all of these would have been DS's.

* According to a 1981 United States Trade Commission report

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USTC, Dec 1981

EXTERIOR LIGHTING

 

Big changes came to the DS in 1968.  This is the year that the nose of the car was redesigned to have four halogen headlights under glass covers (a.k.a. the turning headlights lights).  Disappointingly, USA cars instead received standard US-specification 5 ¾ inch sealed beams installed in sturdy cast-aluminum buckets.  These USA headlights were used from model year 1968 to the end of USA sales in 1972. 

 

The Euro front turn signals for 1968 cars were thin rectangular units made by either Seima or AXO that were mounted in the fenders, just below the headlights.  USA cars from 1968 to 1972 were instead equipped with round turn signal units made by Scintex that were mounted in the underpan, below the front bumper.  On USA models, the existing Euro turn signal holes in the front fenders were covered with stainless steel blanking plates. 

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Euro front end with Seima / AXO turn signal unit in fender

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USA cars had a stainless steel blanking plate over the cut-out for the Euro turn signal

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Scintex front turn signal on USA DS’s from 1968-1972

Cars picked up though the European delivery program were usually equipped with BOTH types of front turn signal lamps installed; Seima/AXO units in the fenders and Scintex units under the bumper.  An example of a car with both turn signal lamps is shown on the cover of this European delivery brochure.

 

In 1968, the USA rear sedan lighting was identical to that used on 1967 USA sedans (round Lucas lamps with red lenses, and Lucas license plate lights). 

 

USA wagons in 1968 had the same Euro-style rear lighting as 1966/1967 USA wagons. 

 

The pendulum swung widely on the lighting for 1968 Canadian DS’s, which had been using at least some of the USA lighting for 1966/1967.  In 1968, Canadian DS’s received full Euro lighting (front and rear, on both sedans and wagons).  

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European delivery brochure showing a car with USA nose configuration, but with Euro front turn signals as well

This is an example of a Canadian DS21 with full Euro lighting, front and rear. This particular car is a 1969 that now resides in Washington State

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CITROMATIC SHIFT GATE​ EMBELLISHER

 

In mid-1968, labelling on the shift gate embellisher for the Citromatic shift lever changed on American DS's.

 

On Euro cars, the start position on the shift embellisher was always labelled with the letter "D" for Démarreur (starter in French). But in mid-year 1968, USA cars changed to have the start position labelled with an "S" (presumably for Start or Starter). The parts book indicates this change occurred in March of 1968, which seems believable based on photos and surviving cars.

We think that Canadian cars received the European shift gate with the "D" nomenclature until mid-1971 at which time Canadian cars became (almost) the same as USA cars. 

The shift embellisher changed one more time in on North American cars. Refer to the 1972 section for details. 

Euro shift embellisher labelled with "D"

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USA shift embellisher labelled with "S"

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DASHBOARD AND WIRING

 

1968 DS’s for the USA received a dashboard that was similar to that of their Euro counterparts. Differences for USA models include a speedometer calibrated in MPH and a different turn signal switch.  Note that USA turn signals had an external flasher unit, instead of having the flasher integral with the switch.  Initially the external flasher unit was made by Klaxon but in the middle of 1968, they changed to one made by Scintex that used 1/4 spade terminals instead of Citroën bullet terminals. Cancelling the turn signal on USA switches on cars between 1966 and early 1969 was accomplished by pulling the lever aft, toward the driver. 

 

Also, 1968 USA cars had emergency (hazard) flashers operated by a switch with a red knob (see photo).  The wiring behind the dash for this hazard light switch was haphazard, sometimes installed with unprofessional tactics (wires twisted together, electrical tape, etc).  Additional research on this flasher suggests that it was installed by Citroën personnel, after the cars arrived in the USA and before the cars were turned over to the dealers.  A term for this type of installation was “port-installed.”  Note that US regulations appear to have required hazard flashers for model year 1968.  This hazard light switch is not covered in the parts books or wiring diagrams, but all 1968 USA DS’s had it.  

 

All Canadian Specification 1968 DS’s had dashboards similar to the Euro dashboards, except for a few minor changes, such as the speedometer calibrated in MPH.  Canadian cars in 1968 did not receive the hazard flashers.

A summary of DS/ID dashboards is HERE.

Hazard light flasher switch on a USA 1968 DS21 dashboard - see red knob 

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Typical dashboard that would be found on a 1968 DS21 (very similar for Euro, USA, and Canada)

AIR CONDITIONING

 

Air conditioning systems started showing up in higher volume on some North American DS’s in 1968 and early 1969.  One of the more common systems seen on 1968 and 1969 cars was developed by Coolaire and is reported to have been installed by Citroën personnel, before the cars were turned over to the dealers or in some cases, installed by the dealers.  The Coolaire company was based in Miami, Florida, and they made ‘aftermarket’ A/C systems for various cars of the era (British, German, French, etc).  

 

The A/C compressor (made by York) was installed on the left side of the engine bay, in the location where the alternator would normally be.  The alternator was then relocated to the right side of the engine bay, just above the hydraulic pump.  To assist in the condensing function, a loop of finned tubing ran underneath the car, nose-to-tail, and then back (see photos).  A condensing radiator was also installed in the air duct that fed the radiator.  There were no condenser fans.  This system was somewhat crudely designed and executed and is very rare to find in functional condition today.  

 

We believe that this A/C system was primarily installed on 1968/1969 cars that had the battery located on the right side of the engine bay.  But in 1970 when Citroën moved the battery back to the left side, there was insufficient room for the York A/C compressor.   In order to support A/C on 1970 and perhaps 1971 cars, Coolaire had to move the battery back to the right side of the engine bay with a crudely built battery box, made of welded steel angle channel.  The wiring for the battery and starter had to be modified to move the battery back to the right side as well. 

 

While this system was most common on 1968 and 1969 cars, it may have been used in smaller numbers on 1967 cars (which also had the battery on the right ) as well as some 1970 and 1971 cars.  

 

There were one or perhaps two other aftermarket A/C systems available in this era, but the Coolaire system was the most common, at least on the west coast of the USA. 

Coolaire A/C compressor installed on the left side of the engine bay

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Coolaire condenser tubing routed underneath the car from the engine compartment to the rear of the car and back

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Coolaire dashboard unit as commonly found in 1968 and 1969 cars.  This particular car is a 1969 1/2 DS21 Pallas 

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Brochure for Coolaire air conditioning from about 1966 or 1967

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Rare window sticker for the Coolaire A/C was installed on some rear windows

EMISSION AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT

 

A big change on 1968 USA DS’s was the addition of a smog control system called, Secondary Air Injection which caused major changes in the engine compartment.  This system used a belt-driven pump to inject air into the cylinder head, just downstream of the exhaust valves, with the intent to oxidize (burn) any remaining unburned fuel that would otherwise go out the tailpipe.   The air pump was designed by Lucas, but some (or all?) were manufactured by Hitachi of Japan, under a licensing arrangement. 

Citroën released service bulletin A-196 to advise dealers of the new systems. A PDF copy of this service bulletin is provided. 

S/B A-196 Showing Emission Control Systems new for 1968 models. (Click to enlarge) 

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In addition to the air pump itself, many brackets, hoses, and tubes were required for this system, a small number of which can be seen in the parts book snippet.  

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Smog system components added to 1968-1972 DS’s

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Lucas smog pump for a 1968-1972 DS

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Rube Goldberg bracket for smog pump (Item #8 from parts book snippet)

Lucas smog pump for a DS showing the tag

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Secondary air injection also utilized something called a gulp valve which was there to prevent backfiring when the throttle was abruptly closed. The gulp valve was mounted on the engine block, near the fuel pump.

Gulp valve, installed on left forward side of the engine block, just behind the alternator (Item #2 from the parts book snippet)

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Air injection pipe, mounted on the right side of the cylinder head. A check valve is screwed on the forward end (Items #3 and #15 from parts book snippet)

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Plastic tube on a long banjo bolt inside the intake manifold - the vacuum is used to operate the gulp valve

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Citroën had to redesign the cylinder head for the air injection system by adding nozzles in the exhaust ports.  

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Nozzle in cylinder head exhaust port for air injection system

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To get air into the nozzles installed in the cylinder head exhaust ports, a removable plate was added to the side of the head with passages that allowed the air to reach each nozzle. The thickness of this smog plate (about 12 mm with its gasket) caused the exhaust manifold studs to be longer and also forced a redesign of the exhaust header pipe. 

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Details of both sides of the "smog plate" that was installed on the side of the cylinder head

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Carburetors had to be re-jetted, thus causing unique carburetor model numbers for USA cars (e.g. DLED3, DLED4, DMD1).  All smogged USA Weber carburetors (and some USA smogged Solex carburetors) had a damper to prevent the throttle plate from snapping shut too quickly, thereby reducing tail pipe emissions.

Weber model DLED3 carburetor for a USA DS21 with the throttle damper for smog control

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The water pipe on the right side of the cylinder head was re-shaped to avoid the smog equipment.

Euro water pipe shown on top, USA version on bottom. USA part number was DX642-9D

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Inner heat shield had a cut-out for smog equipment 

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Euro version on top, USA bottomThe USA part number was DX 181-206A

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Smogged DS’s with twin exhaust manifolds had a different header pipe in the exhaust; it was re-shaped to accommodate the smog plate thickness on the right side of the cylinder head. If the smog equipment is removed from a USA model DS, this header pipe needs to be replaced with a Euro model or it will have interference problems with the starter and/or oil pan.

USA cars had a slightly re-shaped exhaust header pipe. Euro part number DX18244 and the USA part number was DX18244A

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One of the bolts that secures the right side suspension arm assembly to the frame needed to be changed on smogged DS's in North America.

 

It turns out that the smog equipment on the right side of the cylinder head pushed the exhaust manifolds too far to the right side of the engine compartment, resulting in a potential interference between the exhaust manifolds and a bolt head (see photos). To solve this, Citroën started putting an Allen bolt and a spacer way down in the hole on USA cars instead of a hex bolt and a washer. 

 

This change was made for all USA cars from 1968 to 1972. We think that Canadian cars mostly likely got this chance in 4/71 when they started getting smog equipment. 

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US model DS showing small gap between exhaust manifold and frame

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Georges Menguy

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Georges Menguy

Hex bolt on Euro cars (left), Internal "Allen" bolt on USA cars (right)

USA regulations required that certain emission data be displayed in the engine compartment. Citroën complied with a sticker that was placed on the firewall adjacent to the left fuse box of 1968 and 1969 DS's. Later cars had a metal plate riveted in the engine compartment. 

Smog information sticker found on 1968 and 1969 cars - installed on left firewall, near fuse box

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This page, showing unique maintenance requirements for the emission control system, was stapled in the owner's manuals of 1968 DS's

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Even the engine flywheels were different on USA cars in this era; the ignition timing groove in the flywheel was located at a different crank position. With the help of Paul Burridge, we put together a summary of flywheel timing grooves (but be careful as many cars have had replacement flywheels installed by now):

EURO CARS

  • Carbureted cars up through 6/71: The slot is at 12 BTDC

  • EFI cars up though 6/71: The slot is at 8 deg-30 min BTDC

  • Carbureted and EFI cars 7/71 and after: The slot is at TDC


USA CARS

  • 1968-1972: the slot is at TDC on all smogged USA cars

Canadian cars most likley had Euro flywheels until 4/71 at which time they would have been the same as USA cars.

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Unfortunately, these early smog control systems were terribly unreliable. The air pump had delicate carbon vanes inside which tended to self-destruct. The bearings in the air pump were prone to seizure. The metal pipe on the right side of the cylinder head would rust out and break off after a few years. The rubber hoses that connect all these parts were prone to splitting open at the ends. Plus general maintenance in the engine compartment was made much more difficult with the system installed. The final blow was that parts availability in the USA for smog-related components was never very good. As a result, nearly all DS's in North America had the air injection system removed many decades ago, usually only a few years after the car was sold. 

This smog system was used on all USA-bound DS’s from 1968 to 1972.  Canadian cars did not get these smog changes until mid-1971. 

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Smogged engine compartment on a USA DS. The air pump is shown circled. This particular car is a very original 1971 DS21 Pallas Citromatic. If you were to add air conditioning, the car would be exceedingly difficult to work on!

HYDRAULIC FLUID

 

1968 DS's in North America (Both USA and Canada) continued to have LHS2 hydraulic fluid (brake fluid) in the hydraulic systems. European cars received LHM in 1967.  

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DS CONVERTIBLES

 

It seems that the last stand for DS convertibles in the USA was in 1968. We had initially thought that the last DS convertibles officially brought into the USA were 1967 models, but it seems that there were a few 1968's brought in. How many? Unclear, but after talking with several experts (Tim Broers, Michael Cox, Gary Ennis, Greg Long), it is likely a half dozen or less. Note that there are a number of photos floating around of 4-headlight convertibles in the USA, but it is thought that at least some of these were not officially imported by Citroën and instead were private imports or were odd configurations due to changes made during restorations.

 

There is however, one US-model 1968 convertible that we have been able to track the history of. It was once owned by Citroën enthusiast Gary Ennis. Gary and Tim Broers both noted that it was a full USA model that was originally sold through Citroën in Los Angeles. The car was once used in a TV series called, Hart to Hart in a 1982 episode called, Hart of the Matter. Gary indicates that it had the full-compliment of USA smog controls as discussed above, although much of it had been removed early in the car's life. The car is distinctive since it had (has?) an antenna mounted on the rear deck and is a strange chocolate brown color.

We are quite sure that there were no 1969 (or later) DS convertibles officially sold in the USA, mainly due to the rapidly expanding list of regulations in this time frame. Examples of such regulations that happened at various times in model year 1969 are the special "anti burst" door latches, back up lights, anti-glare dashboards, chassis stiffeners, and side marker lights. We know that there were never any rear side marker lights made for convertibles, so this means that as of January of 1969, no convertibles could have been imported.

In Canada, it looks like convertibles continued to be sold until mid-1971.

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Screen grab of Gary Ennis's 1968 US-model convertible from the Hart to Hart TV series

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Tim Broers

1968 US model DS convertible, once owned by Gary Ennis

TIRES

 

1968 DS’s delivered to the USA were equipped with the Michelin 180-380 Michelin XAS tires.

 

We believe that Canadian 1966 to 1972 sedans and wagons were also all delivered with 180-380 XAS tires, however documentation is scant. 

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