Citroën sold 1051 cars in the USA in 1969*. Almost all of these would have been DS's, but 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 1969 1/2 cars.
The 1969 ½ cars for the US market had three exterior lighting changes (see photos):
BACK-UP LIGHTS. The first difference was that back-up lights were added to comply with US standards of the era (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, FMVSS No. 108). The two inner red Lucas tail lamps were changed to have a white lens for the back-up light function. A rubber wedge was installed behind the back-up lamps to slightly tilt the beams downward toward the ground. The two remaining outer red lamps were changed to accommodate dual-filament bulbs to operate both brake and running lights. The back-up lights were operated by a switch on the front of the gearbox, actuated by the reverse shaft. The switch was made by Torrix. This Torrix switch (P/N 5416294 / DX 522 026) was also used on SM, USA Mehari's, and some 2CV's.
LICENSE PLATE LIGHT RELOCATION. The second exterior lighting change that occurred in 1969 ½ on USA sedans was that the Lucas rear license plate lights were moved a few inches closer to the license plate, presumably to improve illumination of the plate. This was accomplished by adding sheet metal extender plates to the rear license plate pan. See photos below.
SIDE REFLECTORS. The third change for 1969 ½ USA cars (sedans and wagons) were the addition of side reflectors on the front and rear fenders (an amber reflector in the front, red in the rear). The reflector housings were made of stainless steel on the front fenders and cast aluminum on the rear fenders (they became plastic a few years later in 1971). The front stainless-steel reflector housing had a gray plastic strip glued on the edge to prevent chafing. The parts were made by Seima.
Note that US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108 mandated that passenger cars built after 01 January 1969 were required to have side reflectors on the front and rear fenders. This requirement changed a year later as we shall see in the "1970" section.
See more details on the side reflectors and side marker lights HERE.
Tail lights as found on USA cars from 1965 to early 1969
Tail lights as found on USA 1969 1/2 to 1972 cars. Notice the back up lights and extender plates to locate the license plate lights closer to the plate
Rubber wedge behind the back-up lamp to tilt the light beam slightly down
Top view of a 1969 1/2 - 1972 USA tail light assembly
Torrix back-up light switch mounted on front of gearbox on 1969 1/2 to 1972 USA cars
Front reflector with stainless steel housing - this configuration was used on 1969 1/2 USA cars only
Left: Non-illuminated rear sedan reflector with aluminum housing - this configuration was used on 1969 1/2 USA cars only
Rear lighting on 1969 ½ USA wagons was also changed to add back-up lights. The lamps used on USA wagons were now made by Pecazeaux with the bottom lens white for the back-up function. These Pecazeaux lamps were shaped like a hockey puck instead of the bullet shape of the earlier tail light lenses. These lamps were used on DS wagons until the end of importation in 1972. They were also used on Meharis for the US market, now nearly impossible to find spares.
Parts books show that Canadian Specification sedans and wagons were still equipped with the Euro lighting in 1969 ½, and this seems to be correct based on memories, photos, and remaining cars.
See more details on the side reflectors, side marker lights, and tail lights HERE.
USA spec wagon showing Pecazeaux tail lamps, back up lamps, and side marker reflector /light
Front fender from a 1969 1/2 USA DS that had the non-illuminated side reflector. Notice the threaded fastener installed in the fender to secure the reflector housing. This fender is unique for 1969 1/2 USA cars only.
In 1970-1972, the side reflectors became illuminated, thus requiring a cut-out in the fender for the bulb socket and wiring. Rear fenders had similar cut-outs when the lights became illuminated
Canadian cars received this fender in mid-1971 when side markers were first introduced on
The rear bumper and rear license plate pan were redesigned in 1969 ½ to accommodate USA-sized license plates. Before this, it was necessary to bend the USA license plate to make it fit. Notice that the upper and lower bumper blades were redesigned for 1969 1/2 to have flattened areas to allow a better view of the license plate. These rear bumper and license plate pan changes remained on all USA-bound DS’s from 1969 ½ until Citroën stopped importing DS’s in 1972. According two the parts book, Swiss cars eventually received this bumper as well.
The parts books indicate that Canadian cars never received the redesigned rear bumper and rear license plate pan, despite the fact that the Canadian license plates were the same size as the USA plates. However, the parts books are clearly in error since we have found several Canadian DS's that have the USA rear license plate pan and bumper. Most plausibly, Canadian cars received the USA rear bumper in 4/71, a date when many USA changes made their way onto Canadian cars.
USA license plate bent to fit the Euro license plate pan that was used on USA cars before 1969 1/2
DS21 with features found on a USA 1969 1/2 to 1972 car. Back-up lights, a redesigned rear bumper, and redesigned license plate pan to accommodate USA-sized plates
DASHBOARD AND WIRING
The USA dashboards went through moderate makeovers on 1969 ½ cars that resulted in dashboards similar to Euro dashes of the era, as well as those on Canadian cars. The main differences on USA cars were:
The dashboard switches changed from the Jaeger rocker-type switches there were briefly used on USA cars in early 1969 to rectangular push-on / push-off switches made by Gelbon that were ultimately used on all later DS’s.
The ignition switch on USA cars was relocated from the left side of the steering wheel pod to directly below the steering wheel in a small cylindrical round metal housing.
One of the Gelbon dashboard switches was a press-to-test switch to check the dash warning light for brake pressure (see photo). This switch was only used on 1969 ½ DS's for the US market (not used on Canadian or Euro cars).
Hazard lights were fully incorporated into the wiring harnesses on USA cars in 1969 ½ with a Gelbon switch, identified with the letters "HAZ". This switch had an unusual rocking action to actuate the switch instead of the push-on / push-off actuation of other Gelbon switches. It looks like Canadian cars didn't get hazard lights until 1970 models.
The USA/Canadian models again had minor speedometer and warning light differences from the Euro dashboards, causing wiring harness differences. Canadian DS's did not have hazard lights in 1969.
Relocated ignition switch on 1969 1/2 USA cars
1969 1/2 DS21 dashboard on a USA model -
Similar to a Euro dashboard of the era, except for the black crinkle paint on the steering wheel surround, minor switch differences, and minor warning light differences
Press-to-test brake pressure light switch used on 1969 1/2 cars for USA. ID19's and wagons had the same switch, except the brake pedal symbol was rotated 90 degrees since the switch was mounted horizontally on ID's and Wagons (see below)
Gelbon hazard light switch with unusual rocking action, first used on USA 1969 1/2 DS's
US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) #202 mandated that all passenger cars manufactured in 1969 be equipped with headrests on the front seats. American DS’s first received front headrests on 1969 ½ models, mounted on a fully redesigned seat. The new seat design can be most easily distinguished by the round plastic recliner knob, in lieu of the lever used on earlier seats. These headrests were attached to the sides of the front seats with four M5 Pozidriv screws. Headrests were sporadically showing up on certain Euro models in these years, but they tended to be attached to the seats differently and were only installed on certain models.
The first headrest design Citroën used was a universally disliked headrest that was shaped like an upside-down teardrop. These headrests tended to push your head uncomfortably downward. See photo. Fortunately, these headrests did not last long (1969 1/2 only) and Citroën quickly changed the design.
Canadian cars in this era were not required to have headrests.
Unpopular headrest design that showed up on 1969 1/2 DS’s in the USA
USA headrests required that the seat frame have unique mounting provisions. Specifically, the backrest had threaded tabs welded onto the frame for the screws that secure the headrest. As a result, seats intended for USA models were slightly different. See photos.
Seat marked with a tag indicating it is for the USA market
USA seat frame with a welded tab for a headrest mounting screw. For comparison, a seat frame for a French car is also shown
USA and Canadian Specification cars finally received LHM hydraulic fluid in 1969 ½. Apparently, it took several years to convince USA officials that LHM was an acceptable substitute for LHS2 / brake fluid (Euro models received LHM a few years earlier, on 1967 models). LHM was a very welcome change, but many mistakes were made when LHM cars first appeared; owners and repair shops were inadvertenty using brake fluid to refill the LHM reservoir. Also, the color of LHM is almost the same as antifreeze, so there were cases of people adding antifreeze to the LHM reservoir! Citroën went to great lengths to remind people what fluid to use. The owners manuals and repair manuals had special pages printed on green paper specifying LHM. There were also several attempts to put reminders on the fluid reservoir itself on USA cars. These included the big aluminum sheet that completely covered the top of the reservoir was used on all 1969 1/2 DS's. We have seen a few 1970's with it as well. The smaller metal tag installed under the reservoir cap was on all 1971 and 1972 DS's and on SM's.
Various schemes were used to help prevent American DS owners and mechanics from using the wrong hydraulic fluid in LHM cars.
Green colored pages added to a USA 1969 1/2 DS owners manual to warn owners about the new hydraulic fluid
Notice Page 17b is stapled over the original page showing LHS2 fluids!
EMISSION AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Smog controls remained virtually unchanged in 1969 ½. Canadian cars still matched Euro cars for smog control, with no secondary air injection system.
1969 ½ cars in the USA received a plate mounted in the left door jam that showed that the car complied with applicable USA safety standards. This door jam plate changed several more times in subsequent years.
Also starting with 1969 ½ USA models, an aluminum plate with the car's serial number was pop-riveted to the left side of the steering pod.
Canadian cars did not get either of these plates until mid-1971.
Safety data plate in left door jam of 1969 1/2 cars
Serial number plate riveted on the lower steering pod on 1969 1/2 cars
Between 1969 and 1972, all DS’s in the USA had 180-380 (180-15) Michelin XH tires. Euro equivalent cars would have had XAS tires, with most Euro models having narrower tires in the rear.
We believe that Canadian 1966 to 1972 sedans and wagons were delivered with 180-380 XAS tires.
Refer to the early 1969 section for more information and photos of XH tires.
Michelin advertisement for the rare and mostly forgotten XH