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“THRUSH agents take cover…It’s Napoleon Solo on wheels!” Car Life, 1965
This gorgeous black DS20 was originally registered in the Loire Valley region of France in December 1972 before being imported into the UK in August of 1998, at which time she was registered with a year related 'K' plate (or ‘OK’ plate, as she is currently specified!). Since then the V5 shows her to have had four owners including the present keeper.
The car was one of four Citroen DSs that were sourced and renovated to take part in a Stella Artois advertising campaign in late 2010. The renovation work was undertaken by Dream Cars in Redhill who are well known in the film and TV world having been responsible the Ecto 1 Caddy for 'Ghostbusters' and recently the titular van for Alan Bennet's 'Lady in the Van'. The Stella campaign was an immersive theatrical experience called 'The Night Chauffeur' which involved over 800 members of the public being whisked around London on a variety of frankly baffling missions. Did it help to sell beer? Who knows, but the cars were an inspired choice of transport and certainly looked the part.
A couple of short films documenting these ‘events’ can be found here:
Post filming, the cars were decommissioned by Stella Artois as they had no further use for them, and all four were returned to the Dream Cars workshops. The other three were sold on soon afterwards but this example remained in dry storage there for the next 5 years.
The current owner acquired the car in 2015 and having woken her from her extended slumber conducted a thorough inspection, revealing that crucially she retained all of her original metalwork and had never been welded. The A, B and C pillars, boot floor etc. were (and remain) all original - quite outstanding and very rare when you consider how many DSs were produced (92,483 in 1972 alone) and how many have since submitted to the ravages of the dreaded tinworm.
The car was subsequently painstakingly re-commissioned, with cosmetic work being required to the paintwork on both sides and the rear deck – these areas having been professionally signwritten with Stella Artois logo's for the ad. The remainder of the coachwork was simply compound buffed.
The chrome bumpers are original and unpitted, the rear having a couple of dings in it (please see photos). All the brightwork surrounding the roof, including the iconic high level indicator bezels and outer door handles are again original. New chrome hubcaps, wing mirrors, internal door handles, exterior headlight surrounds and rear lights were sourced and fitted to bring the overall exterior condition of the car up to the highly impressive standards as seen in the photos.
The interior is similarly very nice indeed, with freshly re-connolised black leather seats, four inertia seat beats and custom box quilt sun visors, seat backs and C pillar pillows. The rear shelf is trimmed in a subtle black box quilt and houses a pair of speakers connected (along with a bass sub in the boot and two front under dash speakers), to a new Retrosound stereo headunit. This was fitted along with a reproduction Citroen dash surround so as to give a suitably period look whilst also offering iPod connectivity via an unobtrusive jack in the glove compartment. The results offer an exceptional musical experience - you don't want to be listening to Dark Side of the Moon on anything but quality!
Under the bonnet the Citroen’s engine bears the desirable DY3 code and thus boasts the highest output of all the 1985cc variants, pushing out a heady 99bhp whilst mated to a factory fitted low ratio cruising 5 speed manual ‘box – also pretty rare in a DS20 as it was an expensive option at the time. The above mechanicals were treated to a complete overhaul in 2015 so as to give this particular goddess the very best chance of being worshipped from the driving seat for another 44 years. All the parts used are documented in the history file that accompanies the car.
Today the engine pulls very well, cruising all day at 70/75 with 90mph not unrealistic. This was a highly advanced and sophisticated car in its day and does not embarrass itself in modern traffic as might some classics we could mention.
As remarkable as the DS looks, the real showstopper is of course Paul Magès’ hydraulic system which provides power for the steering, brakes, automatic clutch, gearbox, and self-adjusting hydropneumatic suspension. This was untouched in the re-commissioning process as it operated perfectly - and still does - as per it’s ingenious inventor’s original design, with the car rising to its driving height within ten seconds of initial start up, and giving a sumptuous ride on the UK’s often less than perfect roads.
As can be seen in the photos, ABW 240K has had a few individual custom touches added by the current owner to suit his personal style and taste. As well as the work to the interior, white wall tyres have been added, tinted film placed upon the original unscratched side window glass and the car sports a twin rear exhaust system which mimics that of the later Maserati SM. If the new owner were so inclined, these could of course be easily removed to return her to a more original state.
When purchased in 2015 the car was showing 67,325kms on the clock, and since the completion of the work required, almost daily use has seen the mileage (or should that be ‘kilometerage’?) rise to about 78,000, which equates to 48,750 miles. While incomplete paperwork means that this figure can only be taken on face value, the overall condition, the drive and the unblemished chassis all suggest that it may well be genuine.
In summary, this is not perhaps a car for the shy or for those in a hurry, as you are likely to be engaged in conversation wherever you go. This striking and iconic piece of design engages almost everyone it glides past, and with so few currently on the road (there are currently just 30 DS20 models in use in the UK with a further 12 declared SORN), you will very rarely pull up at the traffic lights (or your local car show) and see another.
This car drives beautifully, makes you feel absolutely great and is unlike anything else you can drive today. We hope the photos and text here offer our usual level of both full and fair insight and information, but of course the owner would welcome visitors wishing to make their own inspection at any point during the course of the auction.
Registration number: ABW 240K
Chassis Number: DSFD – 02FD8721
Engine Number: DY3 0662026187