Weird Advertising for a Weird Car: Balloon-Wheeled Citroen DS, 1959


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Back in 1959, Citroen’s communication department was on a mission to prove to the world that their ID and DS models were in a league of their own. And what better way to do that than to take a car, perch it on four balloons, and float it in the middle of a lake? It’s like they always say: “When you want to showcase comfort, just combine air and water and hope for the best!”

h/t: vintag.es

But seriously, this promotional Citroen was a stroke of genius. By highlighting the hydropneumatic suspension – a fancy way of saying “it’s got some really cool shocks” – the ID and DS stood out from the crowd. And if you’re wondering what the heck hydropneumatic means, it’s basically a suspension system made of four spheres that use a combination of gas and fluid to make the ride super smooth. It’s like riding on a cloud, but with wheels.

The balloon sculpture, which looked like both the ID and DS models, was painted in the same “Blonde Ecaille” color as Paul Coltelloni’s ID #176, which won the Monte Carlo rally in 1959. Because apparently, winning a car race is the ultimate way to prove that your car has great shocks.

And just in case you were wondering how they managed to get a car floating on balloons in the middle of a lake, the answer is stilts. Lots and lots of stilts. But don’t worry, they were carefully airbrushed out in the final product. It’s like magic, but with more balloons.

Overall, this was just one of many creative ways that Citroen marketed their ID and DS models. Balloons and undercarriages were a common sight in their ads, which apparently appealed to uptight German families. Hey, whatever works, right? And who knows, maybe one day we’ll see a car flying through the air with the greatest of ease…but for now, we’ll just stick to the comfort of hydropneumatic suspension.

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