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“…The one thing that was consistent about Citroën in the USA was that nothing was consistent…”

Richard Bonfond, September, 2022

Many people have asked about the changes and modifications that Citroën made to import the DS model into the USA and Canada. While there have been attempts at this before, we have tried to do a more in-depth review of the unique changes and modifications that the USA and Canadian DS models had.


The parts books were very helpful in this endeavor, but unfortunately, there are a few mistakes, omissions, and murky areas. So we have tried to fill in the blanks in this article, at least to the best of our ability.  Due to the lack of complete documentation, this article has relied on the knowledge of several experts to fill in as many gaps as is possible.  We would like to thank the following people for their assistance in the preparation of this article (listed alphabetically);


Richard Bonfond, Dr. Danche (, Chris Dubuque, George Dyke, Greg Long, Georges Menguy, Allan Meyer, Chris Middleton, Lon Price, and Carter Willey.


If any readers see any errors or omissions, please let us know. 


We included Canadian specification cars, but we found that the Canadian cars were even more difficult to nail down the configuration. 



Governmental regulations drove many, but not all, of the changes on USA DS’s as compared to their Euro counterparts. The first really organized attempt of the US government to regulate cars happened in 1966 when president Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This act ultimately created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) and resulted in a set of design standards called the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). You will see us refer to specific FMVSS sections on this website since they help us explain why certain changes were made to USA Citroëns. These standards were first mandated for all cars manufactured after January 01, 1968.


Before these FMVSS’s were mandated for 1968 models, the USA had an uncoordinated patchwork of federal laws, state laws, and industry design recommendations in place for automotive safety and emission control devices. 

Canada had their own requirements and laws. The most significant change to Canadian laws appeared to have happened for model year 1972 cars, when Canada adopted automotive safety rules very similar (but not identical) to the US rules. Canadian rules were called Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS), a name and acronym very similar to the US version. 


We think we have a pretty good handle on the configurations of DS's shipped to the USA. However, nailing down Canadian versions has been really tough. Not many surviving cars, fading memories, minimal documentation. 

As we have seen in the previous sections, the early cars imported to Canada (1958-1965) were similar to the cars that were being sold in the USA. We suspect that the main reason that the early Canadian cars were like USA cars was more of a matter of convenience than a matter of regulations.


In the mid-1960's, strange things started to happen to the configuration of Canadian DS's. In 1965, Citroën finally reacted to customer and dealer complaints that DS's were not adequate in the Canadian climate and set up a specific version for the Canadian market. In Canada, they widely advertised this fact, such as in this article:

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"...Redesigned to meet the demand of the Canadian market..."

Citroën may have been slow to react to the problems with Canadian market DS's, but they did finally came up with a special configuration for Canada. We believe that these Canadian Specification  cars (between 1966-1971) had the following features:


- They had the -15C cold weather option (an auxiliary heater and a flap in the ducting to the radiator)

- They had a special undercoat for rust protection

- They had the dust option

- They used brake fluid in the hydraulic system until 1969 1/2, just like in the USA

- They had European exterior lighting from 1968 to mid-1971

- They had European dashboards except for the speedometer, which was in MPH (no Jaeger switches)

- They had engine block heaters of Canadian origin

- They had the CMVSS sticker from the Canadian Government in the left door jam for 1972 models

- They did NOT initially have the smog control systems that USA cars started receiving in 1968

- They did NOT initially have hazard lights that USA cars started receiving in 1968

This 1971 price list published by Citroën's Canadian west coast headquarters shows the -15C option and the special rustproofing as standard. Each of these Canadian-unique traits will be discussed in more detail later. 


It was also in 1966 when the parts manuals started to include Canadian configurations (before 1966, there was essentially no discussion of Canadian cars in the manuals). 


In the middle of 1971, Citroën started selling cars in Canada that were (almost) identical to USA models, but still with a few oddities for the Canadian market, such as the engine block heater, -15C cold weather option, and the dust option. This was coincident (or about coincident) with Canada's adoption of the CMVSS's. 


But a few people remember that Citroën was also selling French models in Canada between 1966 and 1971, at least in some of the Provinces. How can this be? We are confident that the official configuration that Citroën was offering across Canada was the Canadian Specification as described above. But was it also possible to order a French model car? Some reliable sources say yes, others say no. I can't convince myself either way. 



Before we get started, it is worth clearing up one point of confusion; the difference between model year and manufacturing date. There could be up to a four month difference between a car's model year when the car was manufactured. For example:


  • A 1968 car could have been manufactured anytime between 01 September 1967 and 31 August 1968, or

  • A 1969 car could have been manufactured anytime between 01 September 1968 and 31 August 1969. 


Many design changes, both large and small, tended to be implemented in September to align with the next model year. We suspect that one of the reasons for this August/September change-over was that the factory was largely closed down in August, as per French custom. This allowed the factory to be mostly idle while they prepared for changes to the next year’s models. 


The parts books sometimes use model year and sometimes use manufacturing date. To further complicate things, the factory often made configuration changes in mid-year, so some features might be different (for example) between an early 1972 car and a late 1972 car.


We believe that the following general observations are true for all USA cars between 1966-1972 and for Canadian Specification cars, except as noted. 

  • AC DATA PLATE. Starting in 1960, all west coast DS's in the USA had a small data plate installed on the firewall (near the wiper motor) that showed the model year of the car. An example would be "AC72" which is for a model year 1972 car (see photo). Since these AC number plates were installed adjacent to the serial number, some local licensing agencies added the AC number to the serial number, sometimes not. So using the serial number plate in the photo as an example, the car's title might show the VIN as 00FC7578 or AC7200FC7578


These tags are a bit mysterious and were not installed on every car sold in the USA. While nobody is 100% certain of the whole story, Richard Bonfond and the late Carter Willey helped us understand it, at least as well as possible. The story was that Citroën had two main headquarters to import cars; Los Angeles and New York. The Los Angeles office handled all cars shipped to the west coast ports of the USA (LA, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.) and the New York office handled all cars that arrived at the various east coast ports. All west coast cars from 1960 had the AC tag. So far, I have not been able to find out the reason why west coast cars had the tag and east coast cars did not. The most logical guess is that the state of California required it, so they were installed on all cars processed by the Los Angeles office. The AC tags were installed by Citroën personnel as a port-installed part, like the sealed-beam headlights and other parts. The website has photos of each plate from 1960 to 1972 HERE.

West coast SM's in the USA also received these plates. Canadian DS's and SM's did not get them


Chris Dubuque

  • PADDED CARPET. All 1966-1972 DS sedans and wagons sold in the USA (and probably Canada) had padded carpets. The only exception were 1970 D-Specials which were unusually stripped down cars. Some Euro versions had rubber floormats or un-padded vinyl flooring.


Chris Dubuque

  • HUBCAPS. All 1966-1972 USA and Canadian DS, ID, and wagons had full-sized hubcaps. The hubcap in the top photo is a "Pallas" version which was used on all USA and Canadian Pallas models. The hubcap in the middle photo was used on all non-Pallas models in the USA and Canada. These same two hubcaps were also used on Euro cars as well. But Euro ID's, wagons, and D-Specials used smaller half-size hubcaps, as shown in the third photo. These smaller hubcaps were never used on USA cars. has details of the various hubcaps used on Euro DS's HERE and the various ID hubcaps HERE

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  • TRUNK VINYL. All 1966-1972 USA and Canadian sedans had trunk vinyl, with the exception of the 1970 D-Special. Some Euro versions had painted trunks with no upholstery). 


Chris Dubuque

  • TRUNK GASKET. All 1966-1972 USA and Canadian sedans (ID's, DS's, and D-Specials) had foam trunk lid gaskets in lieu of the simple rubber strips that most French versions had. In Europe, only Pallas's had the foam gasket.


Chris Dubuque

  • SPEEDOMETERS. All USA DS's (and Canadian DS's) had speedometers calibrated in miles per hour and stopping distance in feet.


Chris Dubuque

  • TEMPERATURE GAGES. All 1966-1972 USA DS's (and probably all Canadian DS's) had engine temperature gauges (some Euro versions had blanking plates in the dash instead of a gauge). One possible exception might be 1970 D-Specials which were unusually stripped down cars. 


Chris Dubuque

  • TURN SIGNAL HOUSINGS. All 1966-1972 USA sedans had stainless steel rear turn signal housings (some Euro versions had plastic housings). A summary of sedan rear turn signals can be found HERE.


Chris Dubuque

  • ROOF TRIM. All USA and Canadian ID19 and D-Special sedans had stainless steel trim around the roof. European ID19's and D-Specials had aluminum trim. 


  • DOOR GLASS. All USA cars (and probably Canadian cars) had 5 mm thick door glass (some Euro versions had 4 mm door glass, usually on the rear doors). 


Chris Dubuque

  • WINDSHIELDS. The windshields delivered on USA cars had a different part number than Euro cars. The parts books specified windshields made by Triplex for USA cars while other brands were used on Euro cars, such as Luxrit. All USA windshields were laminated safety glass while some of the Euro windshields were apparently just tempered glass. The windshield glass thickness was also different on USA cars (7 mm instead of 6 mm which was used on most Euro cars). Canadian DS's almost certainly had laminated safety glass as well. 

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  • REAR WINDOW GLASS. The rear window also had unique part numbers on USA cars up to about 1971. USA cars had 5 mm thick rear windows while some Euro cars had 4 mm glass. By 1972 it looks like Euro cars received the same 5 mm rear window that USA cars had. 

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Chris Dubuque

  • FIVE SPEED GEARBOXES. Five-speed gearboxes were never officially imported to North America.



Chris Dubuque

  • AUTOMATIC GEABOXES. Borg Warner automatic gearboxes were never officially imported to North America.

  • DS23'S AND D-SUPERS. DS23’s and D-Supers were never officially imported to North America. DS20 models were sold in Canada, but never in the USA.



  • FUEL INJECTION. Fuel injected DS's were never imported to the USA or Canada.



  • CONVERTIBLES. A decent number of DS convertibles were sold in the USA and Canada in the years of 1966 and 1967. These cars had some unique USA modifications that are discussed in the 1966/1967 section.


We had planned to say that there were no convertibles officially imported to the USA by Citroën for 1968 or after. However, we have been made aware of a very small handful of 1968's that are reported to have been sold new in the USA. So far, we think no convertibles were officially imported after 1968. Refer to the 1968 section for additional detail. 


Chris Dubuque

  • WAGON REAR SEATS. Most (or perhaps all) 1966-1972 wagons officially imported to the USA and Canada had the folding rear seat and the two small fold-up seats in the cargo area (some Euro versions had different rear seating options). 

  • ALTERNATORS. All USA DS's with alternators (1968-1972) were delivered with Paris Rhone alternators (no Ducellier alternators). Also, the alternator part numbers were different on US / Canadian cars; the bracket was slightly different to avoid smog pump components and the current ratings were higher. The alternator numbers unique to the USA were A13R72 and A13R110. The alternator belt tensioning brackets were shorter on USA cars was as well to avoid smog pump components. Canadian cars received USA style alternators in mid-1971.


Chris Dubuque

  • DISTRIBUTORS. All smogged USA and Canadian DS's (1968-1972) were delivered with SEV Marchal distributors of unique part numbers (no Ducellier distributors)

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Chris Dubuque

  • SEAT BELTS. All 1966-1972 DS’s sold in North America had seat belts; initially lap belts, transitioning to 3-point belts, and finally to inertia reel seat belts in late 1972. 


Chris Dubuque

  • TIRES. Tires on 1966-1972 sedans and wagons sold in North America were always the same size, front and rear (most Euro versions had narrower tires in the rear). It is not clear whether the few DS convertibles sold in the USA had narrower tires in the rear. All 1969-1972 USA cars were delivered with the Michelin XH instead of the XAS.

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  • DUST OPTION. Canadian Specification DS's after about 1966 were all equipped with the dust option. The most obvious part of the dust option was the special hydraulic reservoir cap, but the gearbox breather and fuel tank breather were also affected. USA cars never seemed to have this option. The reservoir cap and gearbox breather are shown here. The website has other details of the dust option HERE

Gearbox breather for dust option


Chris Dubuque


Chris Dubuque

Standard reservoir cap


Chris Dubuque

Dust option reservoir cap

  • CANADIAN MODELS CHANGES IN MID-1971. April of 1971 is a key date for Canadian models. Nearly every USA modification that had occurred before 4/71 was thrown onto Canadian cars all at once as of this manufacturing date. 

  • REAR SEATS. Rear seat backs were bolted into place on USA sedans. This drove different rear seat back hardware. Two tabs were welded on the seat frame and two of the bolts that secure the fuel tank cover were used to secure the seat. It seems that this started in 1966. Euro sedans had the rear seat back held in place with two wire clips.


Chris Dubuque

  • ENGINE BLOCKS AND BLOCK HEATER. The parts books show that the engine blocks were different between North American DS's and Euro DS's for all years between 1966 and 1972. One difference that we can find is that all North American blocks have a threaded port in the water jacket. The port seems to be un-drilled on Euro engines. This port has a hexagonal plug in it on USA cars, but on Canadian cars, there was an electrical block heater screwed into this port. The block heater was "made in Canada". From 1968, USA engine blocks had a few additional threaded holes for emission control system parts. One such hole is shown with the small circle.


Chris Dubuque

Euro Engine Block


Chris Dubuque

USA Engine Block


Chris Dubuque

DS block heater installed


DS block heater from a Canadian car

Chris Dubuque

  • POWER STEERING. Power steering was optional on European ID19's and D-Specials. Early ID19's in the USA had optional power steering as well, but by about 1969 or 1970, we think all ID's and D-Specials in the USA were equipped with power steering as standard. Unfortunately Citroën's option lists and brochures are inconsistent on this. Before power steering became standard on USA ID's and D-Specials, we think that power steering was a very common option on USA ID's, as it was hard to find one that did not have it. 

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Chris Dubuque

  • BRAKE FRICTION COMPONENTS. Starting in 1966, the parts books start showing unique brake friction components (rotors, drums, linings, pads) for USA and Canadian cars. The specific differences evolved - additional details are contained in the 1966/1967 and  1971 sections.


Paul Burridge

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