The GS was introduced in the summer of 1970. At that time Citroën surprised friend and enemy with their futuristic design. Citroën, who always had a reputation to keep on the field of obstinacy (think of the DS), was looking for a car to fit in between the small Ami and the bigger DS. After a couple of discontinued projects, 'Project G' was started by Citroën.The GS was developed in a relative short time, because time was running out for Citroën. In the summer of 1970 it finally came to the launch of the new GS.
The GS amazed not only citroënists, it's competitors, the press, but also the public. Everyone was astonished by the design and the hydropneumatic suspension system, which gave the car excellent riding comfort and roadhandling. The GS was the first small car in which this system was used. The bigger ID/DS types where equiped with the hydropneumatic suspension since 1955.
The hydropneumatic suspension system uses four 'spheres' (bowls filled with a special gas) are used. The pressure on the gas in these bowls keep the car level at all time. This suspension also alows to adjust the height of the car to the road. No other marque then Citroën uses this suspension for it's smaller cars. Although you can find similar systems in exclusive topclass versions of cars like Mercedes and BMW.
The design of the GS was praised for it's originality (the GS was a hatchback, while most cars where traditional sedans) and it's low wind resistance. In fact the aerodynamic effinciency factor of the GS is 16% better than the DS, which was at the time the standard production car with the best streamlining in the world.
Not surprisingly the GS won the 'car of the year award' in 1970. Many other awards followed, such as the "Car Style Award" awarded by an international jury at the Car Salon of Geneva in 1971. In 1972 the GS Break is elected 'best estate car of the year' by the English Daily Telegraph Magazine.
Of course all these things made the GS a great car, which was definately ahead of it's time. And who still has a better design than some cars nowadays do. But there is more to the GS, in which it's own character is shown. For instance the design of the speedometer. Instead of a round clock, Citroën used a round cilinder for it, so that it appeared as a digital drum, which is viewed through a magnifying glass. Of course the single spoke steering wheel is something else that makes the car a typical Citroën.
Top of the GS line was the GS Birotor, the GS with a wankelengine. The car was only slightly different compared to a normal GS. With the greatest difference being the engine. The combination of the wankelengine with the hydropneumatic suspension was a masterpiece of engineering at the time. Unfortunately the time wasn't right for the Birotor, due to the fuelcrisis in the seventies, the Birotor outmarketed itself, due to it's high fuel consumption. Only 847 Birotor's where buil. most of them where recalled to the factory and destroyed.
By the mid seventies the GS was at it's heighest point of sales. After the restyle of the car in 1976, the GS was still sold for three years. In 1979 the even more ingenious GSA was introduced. The GSA had the same shapes as the GS, although some changes where made. For one thing the interiour was redecorated. The GSA was given a dashboard which could be easily mistaken by the cockpit of some spacecraft. With of course the single spoke wheel, and the particular speedometer, and the awkward 'sattelites', on which the main control functions where used. Further there where some exteriour changes, like the plastic bumpers instead of metal on the GS.