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Driving a DS in the Utah Desert.

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 by in The Great DS Road Trip... Reno to Austin. |

So it was the perfect choice… AND it was in Northern California. The only thing better than getting the car you want is to fly across the country to drive it home. 

Dozens of emails. Dozens of photos. Lot’s of calls. The deal was struck and the timing chosen.

But the most important part. Could my 19 year old son Maxx go with me. We talked about it and he loved the idea.  We booked the flight.

The owner was a Dentist in a small town a couple hours west of Reno and he agreed to trailer her there so we could avoid being eaten going over the Donner Pass. Good idea.

We landed in Reno and had no problem seeing the car drive by. We hopped in and drove to a lot nearby. We spent an hour learning about all the strange French ways of doing things. This was important. Everything is backwards and upside down. We exchanged lots of cash, signed papers, threw our bags in the trunk and hit the road.

Our first stop was the nearest Walmart. Ice chest, drinks and fly fishing rods for the thousands of hungry trout along our route that we knew were waiting for us. As we pulled up to Walmart, a beautiful French girl skittered up quickly on her pointy little heels to get emotional over our newly acquired symbol of her homeland. She loved the DS and couldn’t believe one was in a Reno Walmart parking lot. 

She gushed for twenty minutes and when she left Maxx said “I want one of these…”

Citroen put a lot of amazing technology in the DS. It was the first car with removable body panels (steel, aluminum and fiberglass). It was the first with inboard disk brakes, crumple zones, rollover protection, swiveling headlights, turn indicators at eye level and true aerodynamics… All in 1955 when most cars looked like chrome refrigerator boxes. And it gets 30mpg. 

And then there was the suspension… Instead of steel springs, they created a pressurized hydraulic system using fluid and compressed nitrogen. The car floats like it’s on a waterbed, because it is. 

So this 41 year old car rides better than any modern car I’ve ever driven. At 80 mph you can hardly feel the road. The seats are big, plush grandma couches. And even with no AC, driving through the summer desert heat was pleasant. The big open, bright cabin let a great breeze blow over you. We never really missed the AC. We didn’t even miss a radio. 

I rediscovered something from my first summer-long road trip in a 1966 VW Bus. 

In a modern car you are coddled and kept away from the world outside. In a DS with the windows open, you become part of that world. You smell smells. You feel the breeze. You hear crickets. And since you’re not in a rush, you pull over anytime something looks interesting. 

We passed through Northern Nevada. 

It was flat mostly. But it didn’t matter.

This was wonderful. Floating over The Great American Desert in a crazy French spaceship with Maxx. A warm breeze. Friendly waves and smiles from everyone that passed. 

I could think of no better way to do it. 

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