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GENERAL INFORMATION '66-'72

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UPDATED
12/2022

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

Richard Bonfond, September, 2022

Several NWCOC club members 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 (nuancierDS.fr), 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

 

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. These standards keep evolving, so it is sometimes difficult to find the text of the version of the standard that existed back in the era of the DS. 

 

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 in 1971 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 an acronym very similar to the US version. 

US AND CANADIAN DS's

DS’s sold in the USA and Canada between 1966 and 1972 had certain traits that were different on Euro versions.  We believe that the following statements are true for North American cars. This section only addresses cars from 1966 to 1972. Earlier DS's (1956-1965) are discussed HERE.

 

But 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 is 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.

 

Back to our general observations that we believe are true for all 1966-1972 DS's in the US and Canada:  

  • AC DATA PLATE. Starting in 1960, west coast cars 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 through 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 Nuancierds.fr website has photos of each plate from 1960 to 1972 HERE.

Canadian DS's did not get these plates. 

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  • 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.

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  • 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-Special used smaller half-size hubcaps, as shown in the third photo. These smaller hubcaps were never used on USA cars. nuancierDS.fr 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). 

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  • 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.

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

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  • 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). 

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  • TURN SIGNAL HOUSINGS. All 1966-1972 USA and Canadian 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.

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  • 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). 

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  • 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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  • CITROMATIC SHIFT EMBELLISHER. The plastic embellisher for the Citromatic shift lever was different on USA and some Canadian cars, being labeled with an "S" for Starter instead of "D" for Demarreur. A few of the very late cars in the USA/Canada were labelled with "START" or even "ENGINE START". We think that the cars that had the wording "ENGINE START" were cars built after 01 January 1972.

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

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X

  • 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.

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X

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

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X

  • CONVERTIBLES. A decent number of DS convertibles were sold in the USA 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 1968-1972 convertibles officially imported to the USA by Citroën. However, we have been made aware of at least one 1968 that is reported to have been sold new in California. 

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  • 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). 

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  • ALTERNATORS. All USA DS's with alternators (1968-1972) were delivered with Paris Rhone alternators (no Ducellier alternators). 

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

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  • 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. 

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  • 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. For some reason, a large number of Canadian DS's were equipped with the so-called 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. Nuancierds.fr has details of the dust option HERE

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  • 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. 

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  • 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.

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  • 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 most (or perhaps all) Canadian cars, there was an electrical block heater screwed into this port. 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.

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Euro Engine Block

USA Engine Block

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DS block heater installed

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DS block heater from a Canadian car

  • 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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