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1000 photos de DS & ID CitroŽn

Not another book about the DS I hear you say.  And this was my initial reaction too.  But this is a book with a difference.  The blurb on the back says, “Here is a rather unusual work that fans of the CitroŽn DS and ID will surely come to consider the standard reference.  1000 different photographs of this mythological automobile presented and annotated by a great specialist of the marque, Olivier de Serres, that will delight DS enthusiasts everywhere with its originality and the unparalleled knowledge which informs all its caption (sic)”.

In his introduction Alain Georges writes, “A Completely Different Work of Reference

There have been many books on the DS and there will many more, (sic) mostly with fine photography, both period and contemporary, making them sources of reference.

But here we are attempting to do something very different.

Imagine that you are in the process of consulting a photo album displaying hundreds of different models of your chosen car in the presence of a specialist who with his expert's eye can share with you his comments on each image down to the last detail. This one, is it original, is the colour correct, should a car of that year have that particular accessory, what year is it.....here you will find the answers to all these questions and many more; a veritable mine of information which only a respected marque specialist can provide.

This specialist is Olivier de Serre, writer of many works on Citroen and especially on the Traction and DS. He imparts his knowledge with brio and amazes us with the depth of his knowledge and the acuity of his observations. Most of the photography here comes from the archives of the weekly ‘La Vie de l’Auto' which has written about the world of collectors’ cars for over thirty years, reporting on classic vehicle meetings and providing a market place for collectors to advertise.

This work is the first of what will certainly be an extensive series dedicated to the classic cars we love, and not just the DS ...."

As stated above, Olivier de Serres is well-known to many enthusiasts for his authoritative and well-researched books so my expectations were high.  Unfortunately, it fell short on a number of scores.  Firstly, the registration numbers of the cars have been Photoshopped to ensure they are not legible.  This has been crudely done with white, black or yellow rectangles that do not line up with the dimensions of the number plates.  A minor point you might think but I found myself increasingly irritated, especially when de Serres refers to the registration number which is illegible.  Secondly, some of the images are badly cropped with bits of the cars missing.  Thirdly, some of the pictures are very low resolution and fourthly, they are all too small to allow one to observe the detail on which de Serres comments.

And then there is the text which suffers from a number of shortcomings.  On the whole, the translations are good but occasionally, errors creep in; errors which indicate to me that the translator is not a ‘petrol head’.  An example of this is “DS20 Pallas 1968/9 Promotional claim that year <<it is at the same speed that one discovers superior cars>> It was the period of the first speed limits.”  I had to read the French to work out what was meant – it should have said, “it is at high speed that one appreciates superior cars”.

Then there are occasional orthographical errors, most noticeable in words where there are slightly different spellings in French and English and where the French prevails.  Then there is the hyphenation of words – in French, syllables generally end with a vowel; in English they generally end with a consonant.  The hyphens are consistently misplaced between vowel and consonant.  And then there are a number of typesetting errors with a few words of the French text included in the middle of the English text.

My biggest gripe though is de Serres’ comments on the photos which are frequently repetitive; contain critiques of the photographers’ composition and sometimes seem unrelated to the particular image.  An example of this is “The big front wings with their <<cats’ eyes>> involved considerable sheet metal work even without c (new line) ounting the wiring for the directional headlights.” This occurs some twenty pages in from the second part of the book which covers models from 1968 to 1975.  Had it occurred at the beginning of this section where the final facelift is discussed, this would have made sense.  Sometimes, the information given is wrong, for instance the 'strapontins' (additional fold down seats in the Familiale) are described as 'rear facing' and the DS23ie's badge is described wrongly as having the words 'Injection …lectronique' above 'DS 23' whereas it is in fact below it.

It comes across as a guessing game where someone shows him a photo and asks him to identify the model, year, etc.  After a while, this becomes rather tedious and the sheer number of photos of all too similar cars adds to the tedium. 

There are very few pictures of unusual cars (apart from Henri Chapron’s creations); just a couple of US market cars and a Belgian-built one but nothing from Slough.

De Serres is critical of most of the attempts at personalisation; he clearly disdains the fitting of accessories, especially if they are not from the right period and he makes the point, repeatedly, that a car must have been used for towing whenever wing mirrors are fitted. 

I really wanted to like this book and I am sure that some people will enjoy it.  For the D enthusiast who wants something different, this book makes a change from all those books that simply rehash the history of this model.  The concept is great but it falls down in the execution which is a great pity.  The cover states that this is Volume 1.  Let us hope that Volume 2 does not repeat these issues and that if Volume 1 goes into a second print run, the errors are corrected.  The book was first published in 2012 but a review copy was only sent to me recently.  I find myself wondering whether the publishers have a large quantity of unsold stock.

This book cannot be recommended at the list price.  If it cost €20, it would be overpriced.  A great disappointment.

© 2014 Julian Marsh


1000 photos de DS & ID CitroŽn


French & English


Olivier de Serres

Collection Director

Alain Georges


Kieron Fennelly


…ditions LVA
Ch‚teau de la Magdeleine
77920 Samois-Sur-Seine



Hardback, 510 pages, 1000 mainly colour illustrations, 207 x 207 x 39 mm







Purchase from

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77309 Fontainebleau CEDEX
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