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National French Icons

There can be few individual cars so intrinsically linked to a country’s culture than France’s Citroen DS. Introduced in 1955, the DS instantly symbolized a technical adventurousness and space-age modernity that everyone could reasonably aspire to. Naturally, France’s leaders were quick to adopt the car as official transport. President Charles de Gaulle is seen here being greeted by an enthusiastic French public in 1964.


In 1964 De Gaulle’s protection was still a major concern following the failed attempt on his life made two years previously—hence the presence of bodyguards surrounding his car. Algerian war veteran Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry had fired on the presidential motorcade as it rolled through the Parisian suburb of Petit-Clamart on 22 August. De Gaulle’s car was peppered with bullets that also burst its tyres. Although the car was not armoured the president was unhurt, and the damaged vehicle was still able, thanks to its hydropneumatic suspension and steering, to flee the scene safely and swiftly. The car was, of course, a Citroen DS. The failed assassination was accurately recreated for the 1973 film The Day Of The Jackal.

French President Charles de Gaulle on an official visit to Picardy in June 1964, being transported in a Citroen DS.


It is a quote. The Classic Car Book – The Definitive Visual History 2016

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