Citroën sold 1051 cars in the USA in 1969*. Almost all of these would have been DS's, but would a few Meharis would be included in this number?
* According to a 1981 United States Trade Commission report
USTC, Dec 1981
The year 1969 brought curious changes to DS’s bound for the USA. There were significant mid-year changes in 1969, so we will identify cars from early and late 1969 as; Early 1969 cars and 1969 1/2 cars. This section deals with the early 1969 cars.
Early 1969 cars bound for the USA (both sedans and wagons) received the same exterior lighting that 1968 USA cars had.
In early 1969, Canadian sedans and wagons still had full Euro lighting.
DASHBOARD AND WIRING
1969 DS’s for the USA had two dashboard designs, one appearing on early 1969 cars and a different one that appeared on 1969 ½ cars. The early 1969 dashboard changes are described below:
The most notable dashboard change on USA DS’s in early 1969 was that the little round dashboard switches that had been used for a number of years were replaced with rectangular rocker switches made by Jaeger. These rocker switches were only used for a few months in early 1969 and were apparently an interim solution to comply with US crashworthiness rules associated with occupant safety. There is an ID19 dashboard from early 1969 that also uses the Jaeger switches. Annoyingly, some of these switches didn't have symbols on them, so one had to memorize the function. See photos.
The ignition switch was moved from the main dashboard facia to the left side of the steering wheel pod, also presumably to comply with US crashworthiness rules.
Hazard lights were now factory incorporated into the wiring and operated by one of the rectangular Jaeger rocker switches.
The dash had black crinkle paint on the steering wheel surround instead of chrome/aluminum.
The above changes started driving even more substantial differences in the wiring between USA and Euro models.
Early 1969 cars for the USA still had different turn signal switches than Euro cars, still with a separate turn signal flasher unit. However by 1969, the flasher was no longer made by Klaxon. Instead the unit was made by Scintex (P/N DX 575 100).
Early 1969 USA DS21 dashboard with Jaeger Rocker switches. This particular car has Coolaire A/C
Early 1969 dash showing close up of poorly labeled Jaeger switches
Early 1969 dash showing ignition switch on left side of steering pod. Also notice black crinkle painted steering wheel surround. Finally notice the rear defogger switch to the left of the steering pod
Early 1969 ID19 USA dashboard with Jaeger switches
Typical Jaeger Switch used on an early 1969 DS dashboard
The Citroën parts book suggests that these USA dashboards with Jaeger switches may have been used on late 1968 models as well, but we believe this is not true. To our knowledge, these dashboards were only used on early 1969 USA models.
Canadian cars received new dashboards in 1969 as well, but the dashes were much closer to their European counterparts, with rectangular push-on, push-off switches made by Gelbon.
The speedometer on USA/Canadian cars continued to have minor differences (units in MPH and minor warning light differences).
A summary of DS/ID dashboards can be found HERE.
1969 through 1971 USA models had different door latches and striker plates than the Euro models. These changes were to help prevent the doors from popping open during an accident (they were called anti-burst latches). Specifically, the striker plate of latches on USA cars had an extra layer of metal that would prevent the door latch from disengaging from the striker plate if the pillar moved away from the door in an accident. This change was driven by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 206, "Door Locks and Door Retention Components." FMVSS No. 206 drew its technical content from an SAE recommended practice document; J839.
A second door latch change occurred on 1969 through 1971 cars. The front doors received a little black knob on the aft edge of the door that could be used to lock the front doors from the inside. We believe that this was also required by US regulations. See photos.
The parts book suggests that these unique door latches were on some 1968 USA models as well, but we believe that the parts book is in error and they were only used on 1969 to 1971 USA cars.
It is noted that the Euro and USA door latch and striker plate components cannot be intermixed, thus making it difficult to find a matching spare part. There are latches that are chrome-plated or not chrome plated, left or right, front or rear, USA or Euro. By our count, there are 16 different door latch part numbers! And it doesn’t help that the 1966-1969 parts book is hopelessly confusing for door latches.
Although the parts books do not reflect it correctly, we believe that Canadian cars received the Euro door latches until late 1971 when the configuration of Canadian cars essentially merged with USA cars. This means that Canadian cars had USA anti-burst door latches for only a few months in late 1971, noting that in 1972 the door latch design changed considerably.
USA 1969-1971 DS anti-burst striker plate
USA 1969-1971 DS door latch comparison - Euro is on the left, USA anti-burst on the right
Typical Euro striker plate
USA 1969-1971 DS’s had a black knob to lock front doors from inside
To help make sense of the confusing 1966-1969 parts book description of door latches, we have sorted it out for you (see table below).
Most of the EURO latch part numbers were also used before 1966 but this article is only addressing 1966 -1972 cars.
Pallas door latches are chrome-plated. Other than the visual difference of the chrome plating, Pallas and non-Pallas latches are interchangeable.
EMISSION AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Smog controls remained virtually unchanged on early 1969 cars for the USA market as compared to 1968's. The only noticeable difference was that the oil filler cap was vented with a hose (oil cap P/N DX 132-81). The other end of this hose went to a spigot on the intake manifold at the base of the carburetor. Some 1970's also had this vented oil cap, even though the parts book implies that it was only 1969's. The vented cap was completely gone by 1971.
Canadian cars for 1969 still matched Euro cars and had none of the USA emission controls.
Vented oil cap used on USA 1969 and maybe 1970 DS's
In a curious move, Citroën added stiffeners to the chassis in several areas for 1969 on USA DS's.
The most visible of these stiffeners are a pair of channels added to the floor, just in front of the muffler box (one below the driver's feet one below the passenger's feet). We believe that these stiffeners were only used on early 1969 American specification DS’s. They disappeared by 1969 ½ when USA cars got double layer floors, meaning that these stiffeners were only used for a few months. Euro models received double layer floors later on.
There were other stiffeners and gussets added to USA cars as well in early 1969, such as doubler plates on the front frame area, near to the holes in the frame that the front driveshafts pass through.
Per the parts books, the front frame section had a unique part number starting in 3/68. We have learned in practice that this date isn't correct. Whenever the parts books shows that a part was unique for the USA after 3/68, we have found that this means it was applicable for early 1969 cars.
Lon Price reports that Canadian 1969's did not receive any these extra stiffeners and instead followed the configuration of European frames. Sure enough, I found a 1969 Canadian DS21 and it indeed did not have any of these added stiffeners. But per the parts books, Canadian cars did start getting the USA front frame stiffeners in 1970.
What drove the addition of these stiffeners? It is most likely a structural crash requirement imposed by the US government, but so far I have not been able to find the specific regulation.
Clearly there is more to learn about these curious frame strengthening details on USA cars, so stay tuned.
Chassis stiffeners on 1969 USA Cars. Why were these added?
Early 1969 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. An excellent summary of the Citroën hydraulic fluids written by Tony Jackson and Mark Bardenwerper dan be found HERE.
A 1969 owners manual from a Canadian 1969 DS had this odd stamp over the page discussing LHM
By 1969, all DS’s in the USA were equipped with an unusual and mostly forgotten Michelin tire, called the XH (size was 180-380, used in all 5 positions). Euro equivalent cars had XAS tires, with most Euro models having narrower tires in the rear. It is unclear what drove Citroën to use the XH on USA cars.
We believe that Canadian 1966 to 1972 sedans and wagons were all delivered with 180-380 XAS tires, however documentation is scant.
Extract from a 1969 USA owners manual specifying 180-380 Michelin XH tires. We found several owners manuals from this era where this page was stapled or glued over the original page that showed XAS tires.
Michelin XH tire