Have a vintage photo of a Citroën in the USA or Canada? Send it in and we will see what we can learn about the photo!
NEW YORK CITY, MANHATTAN
Not one, but two very similar photos of a DS on three wheels have been floating around for years.
The car appears to be the same in both photos – an early 1960’s USA-specification ID19, based on the exterior lighting, the reflectors in the rear fenders, and the dashboard. If color in the upper photo is at all accurate, the color is probably Bleu Pacifique (AC607) which might narrow down the year of the car to a 1961. The van in the lower photo is a 1961-1963 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier.
Locating the street where the photos were taken is pretty easy by tracking down the businesses in the background. Both were taken in mid-town Manhattan in New York, most likely in the early-to-mid 1960’s.
The buildings have changed dramatically since the photos were taken, but both were taken on E. 49th Street. The first photo is located at 12 E. 49th Street and the second is a few business away, at 18 E. 49th Street.
But can we learn more about these photos? Maybe.
Let's turn our attention to a man named Andre Garnier. Andre briefly operated a Citroën shop in Buffalo, New York in the early 1960’s. By about 1968 he had moved to Florida and opened a Citroën dealership in Miami called Monaco Motors. He was impressed with the ability of a DS to drive on 3 wheels and so he removed a wheel and entire rear suspension arm to demonstrate the car’s abilities. The photo (below) shows Andre Garnier with a DS on 3 wheels. The car seems to be a 1959-1961 USA-specification ID or DS based on the rear tail lights and the reflectors on the rear fenders. It has a Florida license plate so it is likely that this photo was taken after his move to the sunshine state, which means it was probably taken in the late 1960’s. I think I see a 1967-ish Dodge Coronet in the background, backing up the idea that the photo is probably late 1960’s.
Citroenvie published a short article about Andre Garnier that was written by Ken Nelson HERE. Ken discusses Andre Garnier’s obsession with the DS’s ability to drive on 3 wheels. The story indicates that Andre Garnier did the same stunt in his earlier days when he was in New York.
So, the question is whether Andre Garnier was the man demonstrating the 3-wheel ID in the two New York photos? I can’t conclusively prove it, but I think it is very likely that it was indeed Andre Garnier, especially if you take into account Ken Nelson's story! Notice that in both the Florida photo and the New York photos, the entire rear suspension arm was removed, something not everyone wanting to demonstrate the 3-wheel capability would bother with.
One last thing of interest. In the second New York photo, you can see a restaurant in the background called Le Chanteclair. This restaurant was owned by a man named Rene Dreyfus, who had been a famous race car driver in Europe in the 1930’s but he fled to the USA when Nazism was taking hold in Europe. Once in the USA, he started in the restaurant business in New York. In his racing days, one of his team mates was a man named Luigi Chinetti who is a bit famous in the early days of Citroën USA as he drove the very first DS in the USA from New York to Chicago for the 1956 auto show in January of 1956. You can read about this drive HERE. Is it a coincidence that the 3-wheeled DS was parked in front of Dreyfus’s restaurant? Who knows.
This photo surfaced in 2023 on a Citroën-related Facebook page and was forwarded to us to see if we could figure it out.
After a lot of head-scratching, we discovered that the photo is a screen grab from a 1971 short documentary film by an author / activist named Jane Jacobs about North American cities. The full documentary can be seen HERE.
After a lot more head scratching, we found that the photo was taken at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor Streets in Toronto, Ontario. The 'current' photo we are showing is from 2014 since the whole area has now been redeveloped and is unrecognizable.
The DS appears to be a 4-headlight Canadian Specification Pallas, probably 1968-1969 based on the trim, lighting, and dashboard.
City Limits Film, 1971
Google Street View 2014
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (GEORGETOWN NEIGHBORHOOD)
Museum of History and Industry
This was an easy one for us Seattleites. The photo was taken at the intersection of S. Nebraska Street and Airport Way S. in Seattle (the view is looking north). The DS wagon in the photo is a 1970 or 1971 US-specification car based on the lighting, headrests, and door handles. The color is probably Blanc Meije (AC088).
We were aware of a Citroën owner (Jim Michaels) who used to live in this neighborhood and we contacted him about the photo. Sure enough, Jim confirmed that the car was indeed his, but he had never seen the photo before! Some sources indicate that this photo is from 1975, but Jim says that the photo must have been taken a bit later, probably in 1978. The vintage photo appears to have been taken with a telephoto lens since it highly compressed the stuff in the distance, such as the Corson Street overpass which crosses over the top of Airport Way (in reality, the overpass is over 1000 feet away from where the DS is parked).
The restaurant in the foreground (Jules Maes) was first opened in the late 1800's and is one of the oldest businesses still in operation in Seattle.
Jim Michaels, 2023
Google Street View, 2022
This photo shows a DS wagon sitting in front of a Chinese restaurant. With a bit of research, we discovered that the Dragon Inn was a Chinese restaurant chain in Vancouver BC. This particular location was 2516 Kingsway. We think that the photo was taken in the early-to-mid 1970's, with one source citing 1972.
The DS wagon has 5-lug wheels (hubcaps are off), no side marker lights, no headrests are visible, and a North American rear license plate holder. Therefore, it is most likely a 1966 to 1971 Canadian specification wagon. The car next to the wagon looks like an early 1970's Plymouth Duster. The Dodge van in the foreground is a mid-1960's model.
Incidentally, even though the Dragon Inn is no longer in business, the neon sign is a beloved part of Vancouver history.