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Slough-built D Series

Motor Racing review of the

Slough-built ID19


Citroen ID19

In Standard

And Modified Form

by David Phipps

SURGING along at around 80mph in top gear the Citroen ID19 seems to have all the attributes of a Rolls Royce. Reversing into a narrow gap in city streets it more closely resembles an out-of-date lorry. These two extremes give a reasonable idea of the character of a car which was designed for use on the Continent and has an almost unrivalled ability to swallow up the miles on a long run but is unwieldy in heavy traffic (due to heavy steering, high gearing and a 10 ft 3 in wheelbase).

For this reason, and the fact that it has an “upsidedown” steering column gearchange, the ID19 did not really appeal to me at first, but once I had got the hang of “winding-it-up” in the gears (despite the considerable noise entailed) on twisty or busy roads I really began to appreciate its superb suspension system, which gives a remarkably comfortable ride and, in conjunction With front wheel drive, quite incredible roadholding. In the latter connection it is also noteworthy that the ID is fitted as standard with Michelin X tyres, to which it is probably better suited than any other car.

Whether on dry roads or in pouring rain the ID will go round comers quite geometrically at speeds which would never be contemplated in the majority of conventional saloon cars. It took a series of swerves on the Thames-side road between Runnymede and Windsor absolutely flat out, with nothing more than a trace of roll on the change from one lock to the other, and at speed the rack and pinion steering was absolutely superb, transmitting virtually no shock from the road and having a degree of precision normally associated only with racing machinery.

In addition to cornering almost without roll and running absolutely straight and true between the bends, the Citroen can be taken over atrociously rough roads with complete equanimity. On really vicious hump-backed bridges it is just possible for the long wheelbase to beat the suspension, but even after a wheel has left the ground the resultant deflection is completely damped out and the car continues serenely on its way as if nothing untoward has happened. It is interesting that the Citroen works at Slough has no cases of suspension failure on its books, so the all-independent hydropneumatic system must be assumed to combine the advantages of long life with its other enviable properties.

As regards performance the ID is probably fast enough for most people’s needs, with a maximum speed of about 88 mph in top and 85 in third but on long straights it feels so stable that it would appear to be very much under powered.

"Sometimes I'm up and sometimes I'm down"; upper and lower limits of the CitroŽn's remarkable suspension system
Engine department of the ID 19

However with a top gear which gives 23 mph per 1000 rpm there is not much difference between maximum and cruising speeds, and it is possible to maintain over 80 mph for as long as road and traffic will allow. Another important factor is a fuel tank with a range of over 300 miles, a distance which could be quite easily covered between meals (for car and occupants) on good Continental roads. For long night journeys, however, a far more accurate fuel gauge than the one on the test car would be necessary for most drivers’ peace of mind.

The driving position is of the dining table variety, but is comfortable enough on a long journey, and all the controls except the hand-brake (hidden away under the facia on the right) are extremely accessible. The “halo” steering wheel, with its single spoke, provides a good grip, and the gearchange, once mastered, is among the best of its type. The brakes — discs at the front, drums at therear — are excellent, and pedal pressure is at no time excessive.

The headlamps are superb, and have a fantastic range on main beam, but with one stalk controlling both lights and horn it is not difficult to let out an inadvertent blast on a warning instrument which is very much audible. On the test car there was an excellent ventilation system but the heater was weak and the windscreen wipers ineffective, although this may have been due to an oil film on the screen. And on such an up-to-date car it was odd to find an old-fashioned indicator-lights switch, situated half way along the facia and very difficult to find in the dark.

Opinions on the bodywork of the current Citroens seem to vary widely, but the fact that the ID will do nearly 90 mph propelled by only 66 hp, carrying five people and a great deal of luggage, show that it is undoubtedly functional. Forward visibility is very good, but the rear windows mist up easily and cannot be reached from the front seats, and the number of Citroens seen with slightly dented flanks suggest that the protruding side panels are somewhat vulnerable. The sealing of doors and windows is extremely good but if a door is opened when it is raining, water drips on to the seats.

There were some unexpected results in the Monte Carlo Rally this year, but 500 miles in an ID 19, most of them in the wet, leave me not at all surprised that such cars should have taken the first two places overall, following up this success with further victories in later, less-publicised events.


Shortly after sampling the standard product I had the opportunity of trying an ID l9 modified in respect of engine and brakes by Connaught Engineering, Portsmouth Road, Send, Surrey.

Alan Brown the firm’s Sales Manager, explained that the engine was in what might be termed Stage One tune. Reshaping of cylinder head and ports proved to give smoother and much quieter running, and a much more free-revving feel, especially in top gear, while servo-assistance for the brakes provided reduced pedal pressure and absolutely incredible stopping power.

It poured with rain all the time I had the car, rendering performance testing out of the question, but as with the standard model I felt that stop-watch figures were unimportant when the manner in which the Connaught-converted ID went, cornered and stopped was taken into consideration. On the short straights of the by-roads leading back to Send the speedometer frequently indicated over 80 mph, due largely to the velocity at which the car could be taken round the corners, and given a suitable road it would undoubtedly have reached over 90 mph. The major impression, however, was of the “six-cylinder” feel of this unit as compared to the standard one, and this alone, for the long distance driver, could be well worth the £75 which the Connaught conversion costs.

© 2017 CitroŽnŽt/1959 Motor Racing