22 August 1962: the day a Citroen DS saved the president

The DS had a gorgeous shape and a long list of technical features that put it well ahead of other cars from the same era. The first on the list was the DS’ hydropneumatic suspension. It consisted of a fully independent suspension with short shock absorbers filled with pressurized oil and gas on each wheel. This allowed the car’s suspension to adjust its firmness and ride height automatically depending on load and what type of road the car was on. This system meant the car would always remain level, and the driver could adjust its ride height manually.

At the beginning of the sixties the DS was the preferred mode of transport for France’s wealthiest and most powerful, including president Charles de Gaulle. In August 1962 de Gaulle granted independence to Algeria to stop the bloody war for sovereignty that was devastating the country, but this choice was not appreciated by everyone. For example the OAS, a paramilitary group who wanted Algeria to stay French, got so angry that they decided to assassinate him.

When Charles de Gaulle was being driven to the Airport on the 22 August 1962, 12 OAS gunmen opened fire on the presidential Citroen DS, killed two of the guards and shattered all the four tyres.
The DS was way too high tech to get shut down by something as simple as gunfire and after a first skid the car’s suspension kept it level and drivable, even without the aid of tyres. De Gaulle’s driver managed to escape the situation, and the president and his wife made it to the airport unharmed.

The model in the pictures was originally sold in 1972 in the USA and it was later on re-imported to France. His owner has been restoring over the last 3 years using as much as possible original parts, including the Delta Mics wheels.