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Citroën sold 1393 cars in the USA in 1971*. Most of these would have been DS's, but would a few SM's be included in this number?

* According to a 1981 United States Trade Commission report


USTC, Dec 1981



Mid-year 1971 was a pivotal time for Canadian DS's.  Specifically, all cars made after April of 1971 for the Canadian market had many simultaneous changes that brought them to a configuration almost identical to their American counterparts. We say "almost" since Canadian cars were still automatically equipped a few things USA cars were not, such as the -15C cold weather package (e.g. rear seat heaters), block heaters, etc. Note that a manufacturing date of April, 1971 would imply a late 1971 delivery. We will refer to cars made after this date as mid-1971 cars.

A reader provided a 1971 pricelist HERE for DS's in Canada that was published by the Canadian west coast headquarters in Vancouver. This price list is for early 1971 models since it is still showing European lighting. Notice that Canada received the DS20 model up to early 1971, a model never sold in the USA. Also, notice that DS convertibles were still officially offered in Canada in early 1971. We think that the last convertibles that came into the USA were 1967 models. 



The headlights, tail lights, and turn signals on 1971 US model DS's were identical to 1970 models.


However, in mid-1971, the metal frames for the USA side marker lights became plastic on the front and rear of both sedans and wagons. More detail on the side marker lights can be found in the "side marker light summary" section HERE.

Also in-mid 1971, Canadian cars (both sedans and wagons) sadly lost all of the Euro lighting and received full USA lighting, front and rear. 

front side marker plastic.jpg

Chris Dubuque

Illuminated side marker light with plastic housing


In mid-1971, Canadian DS sedans finally received the USA rear bumper and rear license plate pan. 

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USA rear bumper with flattened area to allow better visibility of the license plate - Used in USA 1969 1/2 to 1972 and in Canada in late 1971 and 1972


There were very few dashboard differences on 1971 USA models as compared to 1970 USA models. 


In mid-1971 Canadian cars received the USA glove box door with the rotary open/close knob instead of the Euro rectangular grab pocket. Refer to the 1970 section for more details and photos.


Chris Dubuque

Canadian cars received the rotary knob glove box door in mid-1971



1971 D-Specials sold in the USA and Canada went back to more luxurious appointments, including padded door panels, cloth headliners, padded carpets, vinyl in the trunk, and a clock - features oddly missing on 1970 D-Specials sold in the USA. 


Generation 3 headrests with snap-on pillows started showing up on US cars in 1971. For Canadian cars, generation 3 headrests most likely showed up in mid-1971 when many of the other USA changes were incorporated. You can see a summary of the various USA headrests HERE.

Generation 3 headrests with snap-on pillows on 1971 and 1972 USA models

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Much of the emission and safety equipment remained the same for 1971. The main new thing for 1971 was the addition of an evaporative loss system. 


Evaporative loss systems to capture fuel tank vapors became mandated in the USA in this era, and the main component of an evaporative loss system is a charcoal canister. The parts books suggest that 1970, 1971, and 1972 USA cars received an evaporative loss system; but this is an error - only 1971 and 1972 cars for the USA had the system. 


We understand that the state of California required evaporative loss systems for fuel tanks for foreign cars as of 1970, but Citroën received a one year exemption from the state since they were unable to comply in time for 1970 models.  But by 1971, Citroën was able to bring the cars into compliance and thus 1971 and 1972 DS’s had the charcoal canister.  Note that by 1971, evaporative loss systems were not only a California requirement, but were also a federal requirement. 


The charcoal canister was mounted inside the front right fender and had hoses to the air cleaner and to the fuel tank. The air cleaner itself was unique on USA cars since it had a spigot for the charcoal canister hose (see photo). 

This system also included a plastic vapor recovery tank that was mounted in the right wheel well area (item #1 in the parts book snippet).

In 4/71, Canadian cars finally received the same smog controls that USA cars had (see the 1968 section for smog control details).  The parts books show that Canadian cars never received a vapor recovery system, but we believe that this is in error and that emission controls became identical between USA and Canadian cars as of mid-1971. 

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Parts book image showing fuel evaporative loss system components - the charcoal canister is shown circled


Chris Dubuque

Rubber hose leading from the charcoal canister in the right fender to the air cleaner


Chris Dubuque

Charcoal canister inside front right fender


Chris Dubuque


Chris Dubuque

Charcoal canisters, two different manufacturers were used

(The same unit(s) were used on the SM)


Chris Dubuque

Plastic vapor recovery tank in right rear wheel well

vapor tank.jpg

Chris Dubuque



1971 and 1972 D-Specials sold in the USA were equipped with an unusual and undesirable single barrel Solex carburetor that was part of the smog certification (Solex model 35 EISA). 


It was equipped with an electrically-actuated idle jet cutoff solenoid.  The wire to this solenoid had a nasty habit of falling off, thus causing the car to stall at inopportune times. This carburetor also had a dash-pot to slow the throttle return (the same dash-pot that was used on smogged DS21's with the Weber). 

This carburetor required other unique parts:


  • It had a unique intake manifold since the bolt spacing on the mounting flange was different than that of the standard Solex 34 PB1C carburetor that had been used on all earlier D-Specials and ID19’s.  The unique intake manifold created an interference with the fuel pump outlet spigot, thus requiring a certain fuel pump that has not been available for many years (none of the replacement fuel pumps available today will work with this carburetor).

  • The choke cable was also unique (it was longer, 445 mm versus 375 mm). 

  • The throttle linkage was also unique. 

Based on the problems with this carburetor and near zero spare parts availability, almost all 1971 and 1972 D-Specials in the USA have been retrofitted with a different intake manifold and a DS21-style Weber carburetor or the ubiquitous Solex 34 PB1C with its manifold.


There is virtually zero technical information available for the Solex 35 EISA but I found a technical bulletin discussing how to adjust it HERE and a bit more about it HERE

We recently stumbled into a very original (un-modified) engine for a 1971/1972 D-special with the full compliment of USA smog equipment and the Solex 35 EISA carburetor (see photos). It is very rare to see all of this smog stuff still installed, since it had really crappy reliability. Most cars had all this stuff removed by the 1980's. 


Canadian D-Specials received this unusual Solex carburetor a few months after USA cars, in mid-1971. 


Chris Dubuque


Chris Dubuque

Smogged Solex 35 EISA carburetor used on USA 1971 and 1972 D-Specials.


Chris Dubuque


Chris Dubuque

Smog equipment installed in a 1971/1972 D-Special


Starting in 1968, USA safety regulators started imposing more stringent regulations on automotive brake systems (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard FMVSS No. 105). Among other things, this safety standard imposed a dual-circuit master cylinder; one circuit was for the front brakes and a second circuit was for the rear brakes. With this split between the front and rear brake systems, a failure of a tube or a seal somewhere in the car would only render two of the brakes inoperative. As an example, if a hydraulic tube to the rear brakes rusted through and spilled all of the fluid for the rear brakes, a dual-circuit master cylinder would allow the front brakes to be fully operational. If a circuit indeed failed, a light would be illuminated on the dashboard indicating that something needed repair. 


Somehow Citroën avoided having to make design changes to meet these regulations until April of 1971. Then strange things started to happen to the brake system on DS’s headed for North America:


ID19’s and D-Specials always had a simplified brake system with a conventional brake pedal in lieu of the champignon (mushroom) brake pedal. This is true on US and Canadian DS's, except for a few months in mid-1971 when USA and Canadian D-Specials received the champignon brake pedal with two new components we will discuss more below. Oddly, these late 1971 D-Specials with the champignon pedal did not have a brake accumulator sphere. We suspect this change was an interim solution associated with compliance with USA safety regulations. 


In mid-1971, in conjunction with the mushroom brake pedal, all USA and Canadian DS’s and D-Specials received hydraulic components called leak finders (two per car).  Leak finders were small hydraulic components that were located in the tubing leading to the front and rear brakes.  If there was a hydraulic leak somewhere downstream in the brake system, the leak finders would shut off flow to the affected brake(s), thus retaining the hydraulic system integrity for the remaining brakes, as well as for other hydraulic systems on the car. If a leak finder detected a leak and shut off flow, a switch at the end of the leak finder would be actuated to illuminate the red STOP warning light on the dashboard.  The leak finders mimicked the function of a dual-circuit master cylinder that other car manufacturers were required to have incorporated by 1968. Leak finders were also installed on DS’s intended for some of the Scandinavian countries in mid-1971. 

In industrial and aviation circles, the leak finder type of device is called a volumetric hydraulic fuse, since it passes a specific volume of fluid before it “fuses” and shuts off flow. The fluid volume needed to “set” the fuse is designed to be somewhat more than the normal volume of fluid needed to apply the brakes. In this manner, the fuse will never “set” with normal braking activity, but will “set” if an abnormally high volume of fluid passes out to a set of brakes.

Leak finders are not without controversy. If air is introduced into the brakes (such as running the reservoir level too low or a ruptured brake accumulator diaphragm), the leak finders could shut off flow before the air is compressed, leaving you with a significantly reduced level of braking. 

Leak finders also made bleeding the brakes a bit of a chore since the leak finders interpreted brake bleeding as a leak and therefore would shut off flow to that set of brakes. The key to bleeding the brakes is to press on the pedal exceedingly lightly, which allows a very small flow around the outside diameter of the leak finder piston, which prevents the leak finder from closing off flow


On DS21's and D-Specials equipped with the champignon brake pedal, the leak finders were mounted in the driver’s footwell area, directly on the brake valve. 


Mushroom brake pedal on a late 1971 D-Special. 

leak finder.jpg

Chris Dubuque

Leak finders as found in late 1971 (and 1972) DS’s with the champignon brake pedal


Chris Dubuque

Leak finders as found in late 1971 (and 1972) DS’s with the champignon brake pedal

leak finder2.jpg

Chris Dubuque

Disassembled leak finder

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Brake pedal and leak finder configurations on USA and Canadian cars


If you read the above passages on Leak Finders carefully, you will note that all DS's imported into North America received Leak Finders starting in April of 1971. 


But it turns out that Citroën made a critical manufacturing error with the tubing for the Leak Finders! It looks like they inadvertently reversed the tubing such that the pressure intended for the front brakes actually went to the rear brakes and vice-versa. This clearly represents a safety hazard since it could result in the rear brakes actuating first! 

Citroën had no choice other than to initiate a recall campaign. For some reason, this error wasn't immediately discovered, so the recall notice applies to all North American DS's manufactured between April 1971 and October 1971. 

The recall notice provided troubleshooting steps to verify if a car was affected and if it was, then the tubing assembly on the brake pedal unit needed to be replaced with a corrected tube assembly. (Removing the brake valve with the engine in the car is a miserable job! Especially on a Citromatic.) 

leak finder.jpg

Chris Dubuque

Affected Tube Assembly

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Recall Notice

(click to read entire notice)


In addition to the leak finders, North American DS's had some of the hydraulic tubing associated with the brakes coated with Rilsan to help prevent corrosion. Rilsan is a Nylon-like coating, white in color. These coated tubes were mostly in the rear end of the car in the exposed areas.


According to the parts books, these tubes started showing up at different times, some in mid-1970 and then again more tubes in mid-1971. A few of the Scandinavian countries received Rilsan coated tubes in similar (but not identical) locations. An example of a tube with Rilsan coating is the tube to the rear brake cylinders. See photo. 

Rilsan coated tube for the rear brakes


Chris Dubuque


Starting in 1966, DS brake pads (front and rear) were unique to USA cars. We think that this change was probably associated with a brake performance requirement imposed by US regulations.


For 1971 models, the parts books show that the front brake rotors and rear drums were also unique for North American cars. It is unclear what was different with the rotors/drums, but we have noticed that around this date, the front rotors on USA cars began to wear very fast as compared to the rotors used on earlier DS's. By the time front brake pads were worn out, it was common to find front rotors on USA DS's with very large 'wear lips' on each face. One Citroën expert in the USA believes that the rotors had to change material in 1971 to comply with updated stopping performance requirements imposed by the US government. We have been unable to confirm this, but the theory is plausible. Similar changes happened with the SM model, discussed HERE

The parts books imply that the front rotors for 1971-1972 DS's in the USA were marked with a minimum wear (or re-grind) thickness of 0.36 inches. However, we have examined several rotors that we think were original to USA cars and we cannot see any minimum thickness markings. (Note that on some of the better quality replacement DS/SM brake rotors available today, a minimum thickness is indeed stamped on the outer periphery.)


According to the parts books, Canadian cars started receiving the USA rotors, drums, pads, and shoes as of 4/71, the magic date when Canadian cars became almost identical to USA models. Before this date, it seems that Canadian cars were equipped with European brake friction components. 

Reproduction brake rotor. This particular one has no markings of any sort on it


Chris Dubuque

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Snippet from the 1972 parts book showing unique brake front brake rotors and pads for USAQ/Canadian cars



In Europe, I think that power steering was an option for ID's and D-Specials for the entire production run. But in the USA, brochures started calling out power steering as standard equipment on ID's (D-Specials) in 1971 and 1972. Technically, power steering was apparently optional on ID's and D-Specials in North America between 1958 and 1970, but by the late 1960's, almost all North American ID's had power steering. 

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Chris Dubuque



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.

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