For those frightened of the technically more complex DS, the ID offered all the other advances of Citroën’s masterpiece.
Introduced into the UK in 1958, the ID was the proper replacement for the long-serving Traction Avant. The more expensive DS from which it was derived was reaching a different clientele. A basic ID was really a lower-powered DS (or ID Super) without some of those cars’ more costly technology – notably the high-pressure hydraulic system for brakes, gearchange and steering. It still had that wonderful hydropneumatic suspension, though. Built in the UK at Citroën’s Slough factory up to mid-1966, the ID was always too expensive for the British market, so sales were steady rather than strong. But there are still good ones about that make rewarding classics today.
Engine 1911cc/4-cyl/pushrod OHV
Power (bhp@rpm) 72bhp@4500rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 101 lb ft @3000rpm
Top speed 98mph
Gearbox 4-speed manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
The ID’s body features unstressed panels mounted to a skeleton inner frame, and the whole lot is mounted on a platform chassis. All this means that the biggest killer is structural rot.
Bad rusting in the floorpan or the inner sill box-sections may put a car beyond saving. Check by lifting up the sill trim and the carpets. Take off the rear wings (held on by a single bolt) and examine the structure inside. Rot around the mountings for the rear suspension’s hydraulic spheres is bad news, because these take a pounding in everyday use.
Replacement of any outer skin panel is theoretically easy – they all unbolt, so only seized bolts will complicate the job. Not every panel is available, but many have been remanufactured (mostly in GRP) and can be bought easily enough through Citroën specialists.
The engine was in some ways the ID’s least attractive feature. It’s a long-lived four-cylinder pushrod overhead valve unit that isn’t difficult to work on, but it came directly from the superseded Traction Avant and was old technology when first introduced for the ID. With a lower tune than the equivalent DS engines, the ID’s power units were always disappointingly low on guts. They were a bit lumpy at low speeds, too.
There were four different ID engines over the years. Up to mid-1966, the ID19 models had the Traction’s 1911cc type with 62bhp. Next came a 78bhp 1985cc engine, which in 1968 was uprated with a twin-choke carburettor. Meanwhile, from 1965 the ID21 Safari had a 2175cc engine, which helped to cope with the estate’s extra weight.
The four-speed gearbox in these cars has a column change. The gears are widely spaced, and you have to row the car up to cruising speeds. Fortunately, the clutch is quite light.
The steering is heavy at low speeds (there was no power assistance until 1967) with strong self-centring. The brakes are powerful, with inboard discs at the front and outboard drums at the rear. You won’t have to get used to the apparently unprogressive action of the rubber button that serves as the brake pedal in a DS or ID Super, either: base IDs got a standard pedal.
Eight greasing points on the car need attention every 3000 miles, so expect problems if you don’t grease the ball joints, suspension arms and driveshafts regularly – especially on a car that doesn’t get regular use.
The Citroën’s interior is like that of no other car. The dash still seems quite modern, although the instruments are dated and limited in number and the seats are large and soft.
Cloth seat coverings eventually wear through and look tatty as a result, but the seats themselves remain useable. Minor trim items changed quite frequently, and differences between French-built and Slough-built cars mean a scrap ID may not provide all the interior parts you’ll need unless it’s exactly the right age.
Buy an ID if you want an attention-grabbing classic that is rare enough even to make Citroën enthusiasts take a second look.
Buy a Safari estate if you can because it was one of the best estate cars ever made, anywhere. Above all, buy an ID because it belongs to the car range that changed people’s perceptions of the motor car forever back in the 1950s.