The very first Japanese DS. In August,1958, in
front of the Akasaka Prince Hotel in Tokyo, the
"Citroen bomb" was unveiled in Japan for the
first time. Illustrations from France had already
made some appearances in auto magazines,
but this time it was for real.
The official presentation of
the D series in Japan, in
front of the Akasaka Prince
Hotel in Tokyo, August 22nd
& 23rd, 1958. From left to
right we have: a 1953 11CV
Normale, the new ID19
(curiously with a French "TT"
number plate, for use
outside France), a 1932 C4
Torpedo and a 2CV.
Shotaro Kobayashi took this
beautiful photograph (Car
Graphic, April 2006).
Following this historical presentation, the car is analyzed in
detail in the two major auto magazines of the time.
"Motor Magazine" (October 1958, above and right), who
decided to hide the number plate, gives mostly factual
explanations, after the following introduction: "Most people
would probably say that the DS is the most unique car in
the world. For its style of course, but also because of all
these design ideas that are, without exaggeration, just
There is also one comment that is quite typical of the
public's reaction in these early years: "Front view of the car
at a low angle: the look of a batrachian." And a few pages
later, the car is shown again in that angle (picture on the
right), with the funny legend "so the world has entered the
era of outer space ?"
The pictures above are from the collection of French Citroen specialist Fabien Sabatès (Citropolis, May/June and
July/August 2000): left: the same line-up, shot from a different angle; right: the wife and daugther of the importer of
the brand at that time, Nichifutsu Jidosha, possibly during the same event.
Page creation 03/03/2007, revision 13/04/2008
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"Motor Fan" (November 1958, above) then publishes its own report, and explains the origin of
the car itself : "Last year the Society of Automotive Engineering tried to import a DS for study
purposes, but having been told that overseas sales did not start yet, it had not been possible.
Finally we had the opportunity to try this car brought to Japan by a French tourist. In fact,
having seen it already so often in magazines, it did not seem so new anymore."
The first ever DS in Japan, in the luggage of a French tourist ! At first I had my doubts about
this story, but after all the "TT" number plate was not justified if the car had been imported for
sale in Japan, and if we look well at the pictures above, it is obvious that the car is not in
brand new condition.
The article goes on detailing the car, with the usual description of unique technical features,
but also more unusual ones: "the front grille design evokes the shape of a clam". In
conclusion, the author rightfully states that "in short, everything in the car shows Citroen's
experience, discernment and self-confidence", and gives the address of the importer
Nichifutsu Jidosha, and the price: 1,850,000 yen.
Left: an invitation published in the English language daily
"Japan Times" dated August 20th, 1958: the DS is to be
shown in Japan for the first time.
Left: this first Japanese DS appears
on the cover Motor Magazine in
November 1958, together with the
car it replaces: a Traction Avant.
Right: Although the picture quality
is poor, it is without doubt the
same car, a few months later in
another auto magazine, shot in
front of a castle, (Jikayosha, The
Owner Driver, May 1959).
The mystery of the first DS in Japan is now solved. Well, not
really: who was that Frenchman, why on earth did he come all
the way to Japan with a DS ? To know more about it you must
jump to the next chapter of the saga, and since you probably
can't hold your breath I made a shortcut