19th Jun, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

Lot 35

1969 Citroën DS 20 Decapotable

Estimated at £55,000 - £65,000

Lot details

Registration No: ABW 186G
Chassis No: 4335241
MOT: July 2024

  • DS Pallas converted professionally to Chapron specification
  • Used extensively since 2007 covering some 70,000 kilometres
  • Provided with some £22,000 worth of expenditure in the last ten years
  • Supplied with a large history file
  • Beautifully sleek and extravagant design!

Proof to some that Planet Earth is periodically visited by little green men from beyond the stars, the front-wheel drive Citroen DS was introduced to a spellbound Paris Salon on the 5th of October 1955. Responsible for unleashing more technological 'brainstorms' upon the field of automotive design than any production car before or since, its wonderfully futuristic 'speeding teardrop' profile was penned in-house by Flaminio Bertoni. Featuring an olio-pneumatic operating system that controlled its self-levelling suspension, power steering, semi-automatic gear change, and brakes, the big Citroen offered an uncannily smooth ride. The choice of high-ranking politicians and celebrities alike, it quickly drew the attention of coachbuilder Henri Chapron. Anxious to showcase his talents on this motoring icon, his first DS-based La Croisette Cabriolet appeared in 1958. A little ungainly, it nevertheless persuaded Citroen that a factory-sanctioned convertible was a good idea.

With this in mind, they approached Chapron the following year. Fruit of their union, the resultant Usine Decapotable was unveiled at a special press launch in Autumn 1960. Exceptionally sleek, its one-piece rear deck was a masterstroke. Available to special order only, it was twice the price of an ordinary DS saloon and consequently hand-made in tiny numbers. The adoption of fuel injection (or 'Injection Electronique' / IE) some two years later finally gave the model performance to match its looks. Credited with developing 139bhp @ 5,500rpm, the DS21 IE was reputedly capable of 118mph. Of the 1,456,115 DSs manufactured during the model's twenty-year production run just 1,325 were Decapotables, and enormously sought after, they have witnessed a meteoric rise in values over the last few years. Unsurprisingly then, conversions have been completed by several coachbuilders since with great quality.

Manufactured in 1969, the DS 20 offered was supplied new to France and is fitted with the short-stroke 1985cc straight-four engine unit. Boasting the luxury Pallas upgrade (after the Greek goddess Pallas Athena), this included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery, driver's seat with height adjustment, and external trim embellishments. Finished in Gris Palladium paintwork, the DS interior upholstery is trimmed in Black leather and a Black hood (which would benefit from renewal). Arriving on the shores of the United Kingdom in 1998, where it was provided with a Decapotable conversion by the Oxford French Car Company, and thereafter was used as their demonstrator vehicle. Believed to be one of only three such conversions they made, the work has been carried out to a very high standard and only the most ardent Citroen buff would be able to distinguish it from a genuine one – even with a Chapron plate under the bonnet.

Sold through French car aficionado Olivier Houiller to its longest-term United Kingdom owner in 2007, the gentleman retained the Decapotable until 2019. Maintaining the Citroen religiously throughout his ownership, he used it extensively both here and abroad, including a trip to the Italian DS gathering in Rimini in 2017 when it reportedly never missed a beat, cruising happily at 80mph and won an award for the furthest travelled car (2,400 miles). Covering some 68,000 kilometres during his ownership, the owner at the time was passionate about using the Citroen with the hood down in all conditions, providing some excellent images from the car's escapades. In 2016, it was loaned to Practical Classics magazine for a trip to Paris and back which it also completed without drama, with a copy of the featuring magazine in the history file. Other notable trips include touring the Alps and events with the Chapron Club.

Chassis ‘4335241’ has benefitted from some £22,000 worth of expenditure in the last ten years with the improvements including a bare metal repaint in Gris Palladium costing £11,400 alone in 2014, and a thorough mechanical overhaul at a cost of over £10,000 in 2015/16, when it went back to the Citroen Conservatoire in Aulnay-sous-Bois, with the improvements including a full engine overhaul with new pistons, renewal of the brakes and suspension, and a new wiring loom. Other servicing work was carried out by marque specialists Citroen Classics of Staines and BL Autos of Welwyn Garden City. A new power steering rack, a new starter motor, and an overhauled speedometer have also been provided, plus a host of other items. Most recently benefitted from over £600 worth of improvements with Citroen Classics of Stains in 2021, the work completed included bodywork details, mechanical parts, and servicing.

A semi-automatic model, it also has a wonderful Jaeger Sports dash, swivelling headlights, and a stainless steel exhaust. Accompanied by a large history file that contains a large collection of invoices, previous MOT certificates, a workshop manual, images of the car's escapades, and a V5C document with four former keepers. Freshly serviced and provided with a new coil and 123 electric ignition distributor in preparation for the sale, the vendor rates the engine, gearbox, and interior trim as ‘excellent’, electrical equipment as ‘very good’, and bodywork and paintwork as ‘good’. On offer here at a fraction of the price of a genuine factory-built Decapotable, this expertly maintained and extensively used DS has a current MOT certificate.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Cheetham
07538 667452


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 19th Jun, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

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