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Top 10: Great French classics

The French have produced some impressively advanced designs over the years, as well as some of the best-looking sports models and fantastically practical family cars. So here we celebrate the automotive ingenuity shown by France’s most successful car manufacturers.

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Citroen DS

What makes it great? Years ahead of its time when launched in 1955, the DS combined a world-beating ride with typical Citroen-style idiosyncrasy

How can a car that looks this stunning date back more than sixty years? When the Citroen DS first went into production, it was hailed as one of the most advanced models of its time, shocking and impressing onlookers in equal measure thanks to its aerodynamic styling, its hydropneumatic suspension and its sophisticated electrics. No other car looked like a DS, rode like a DS, or attracted attention like a DS – and the same can still be said now, with one of Citroen’s all-time greats commanding hefty asking prices in excellent, original condition.

Read our Citroen DS review here


Alan Pearson    on 19 November 2016

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Bob Vass    on 21 November 2016

Hmm, nothing apart from the traction avant earlier than 1950 .... ? Surely some mistake ?

soldierboy000    on 21 November 2016

What about the Simca 1100? In S trim this was one of the first great hatches with similar folding seats to the Honda Magic seats ( no cinema action ) the folding action lowered the squab as the back rest was going forward and down spawning a cavernous loading area, I took half a house full of goodies to Germany in one when I was in the forces.

rob thailand    on 22 November 2016

The Renault 4 was indeed a competitor of the 2CV as it would also go across ploughed fields with ease. The French cars were very comfortable - I had a Peugeot 504 estate company car in 1975 which covered a very hard 100,000 miles in 2 years and was a joy to be in.

rob thailand    on 22 November 2016

Facel Vega? - My Father's dream car. Ringo Starr had one.

Robin Allen    on 22 November 2016

Can't agree with all of your choices. I'm surprised Panhard don't get a mention. One of the oldest car makers in the World and responsible for many innovations taken up by other manufacturers.

Ivan Bingham    on 22 November 2016

What about the LHD TWINGO, prettiest 'small' car on the road but with the movable rear seats giving more rear leg room than the large Safron saloon and more luggage space than you'd think possible. 2.5 million made and popular from Japan to the UK as they are capable of.very high mileage and almost trouble free motoring. The best practable fun car ever!

pyghtler    on 22 December 2016

I see Citroen is well represented, but surely the BX model should be on the list, with it's reputation of "Loves the road, hates the garage".

Trevor G Jones    on 5 June 2017

Having owned 3 Renault 4 vans (Fourgons) for my business, 2 2CV's 2 Peugeot 504's and a rare right hand drive Peugeot 203 I have had my fair share of French cars and loved them all. One of my 504's covered almost 250,000 miles before it was stolen and I loved the ride of the 2 CV'S and Renault 4's as they were great on rough roads. A friend bought a new Peugeot 107 a few years ago and I picked it up for her but the ride was terrible after the lovely soft sprung French cars of years ago. Back in the '80's I was driving back from Brighton in my 2 CV when a 1.8 Marina came up behind me but after the angles my 2 CV was adopting on the corners he dropped back as I think he thought I was going to roll it any moment. Great fun.

Lawlessbreed    on 5 June 2017

I was living in France in the early 60s and bought a rear-engined Renault Ondine.It was delivered complete with advice to carry a 50kilos sack of sand in the front boot to aid stability.
I moved on to the DS which remains my favourite vehicle of all time

Stephen Hardy    on 24 September 2018

Whilst I love the DS what about the Panhard 24, from which Citroen snaffled most of the design ideas for the DS?

Derek Roberts    on 25 September 2018

What no Espace?

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