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Please note that the orange cotton interior upholstery is original to this vehicle and was not sourced from another DS19 as stated in the catalogue. No other DS19s were purchased to be used in the restoration process.
Unknown Owner, France (purchased new in 1959)Henri Berthier, Mâcon, France (acquired from the above in 1970)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
The DS stood the motoring world on its ear in 1955, when it was launched at the Paris Motor Show. Its front-wheel drive provided a very roomy interior, and the hydropneumatic suspension system gave comfort levels that eclipsed the greatest luxury brands of the era. Nearly 50 years later, in 2004, the DS ranked fifth on Automobile Magazine’s list of the “100 Coolest Cars of All Time.”
Chassis 55481 was first registered to an unknown owner on March 24, 1959, with French plate no. 452 EY71. On June 17, 1970, the car was re-registered to Henri Berthier, a mechanic living in Rue des Mouettes in Mâcon in Burgundy. He kept the car for an extraordinary 42 years before it passed to its current owner, when it began its journey to become one of the very finest Citroën DS examples the world has ever seen.
Citing his lifelong admiration for the DS, the consignor set a goal to create the best possible example. Intrigued by the challenge, and shortly before his retirement, Vincent Crescia of the renowned garage Crescia SA in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, agreed to restore the car. Notably, Crescia is responsible for restoring several of the award-winning, coachbuilt Citroën DS examples featured at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®.
An early, open headlight model, which many Citroën devotees consider the purest version of the DS line, 55481 was chosen due to the long-term care it had received and its solid and intact structure. With the body panels impeccably prepared, they were painted in the elegant color combination of Gris Rosé (Pink Gray) with an Aubergine roof. As the project progressed, additional DS19s were purchased to donate their outstanding original components. For example, a complete, original orange cotton Graté interior, with a wonderfully subtle, mid-century pattern was installed from a different DS, for an exceptional and authentic period statement. The orange fabric is set off by a prominent sky blue glove box in the center of the spaceship-like dash, which crowns the otherworldly interior. Likewise, the engine bay is a sight to behold, with each component expertly refinished to concours standards; the countless details are truly stunning.
In total, over $300,000 was spent on the nut-and-bolt restoration of 55481 to bring it to its current showstopping state – partially in tribute to the significance and importance of the DS model, and also to achieve the vision of the consignor. With the recent retirement of Vincent Crescia, the restoration of another DS like 55481 is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Clearly deserving of a place in any collection that includes automotive milestones, this spectacular DS19 Berline is set to dazzle all who approach it.