Page creation 15/09/2008, revision 30/06/2009
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Below left: another pic of a "E-number" DS found in "Jikayosha - The Owner Driver", March 1961. In contrast to all the
other cars above, registered in the Kanto (greater Tokyo) area, this one bears a plate from Kobe (Western Japan).
Below right: yet another US-export model, post-1964 front design, but now the plater number is a standard one, not a "E"
number (photo dated May 1971 and published in "The World of foreign cars in Tokyo, 1950' and 1960'", by Norio Takagi,
Top: from "Motor Magazine", Aug. 1959: in the readers'
photo contest, a shot by Teruhiko Yamada. The legend
says: "The characteristics of the car are well grasped.
The wheels turned at maximum look good too."
Left: the cover of "Jikayosha - The Owner Driver" in May
1959 also shows an "American" DS19.
These two cars must have been among the very first DS
imported in Japan.
At the American base of Tachikawa, west of
Tokyo. Undated photos by Hideo
Shinozuka, from "Nippon Gaisha Roman"
(The roman of foreign cars in Japan), a
special issue of Car Magazine, 2008. The
car is a very early model (1958 ?), with the
rear deflector housings extending onto the
In those early days, the importation of cars was
subject to quotas, and limited to foreigners, or
for specific and limited purposes, such as use
by media organizations. Foreigners meant
essentially foreign embassies, and members of
the American Army, to whom specific number
plate types were assigned. The plates starting
with an "E", as in most pictures on this page,
were introduced in 1958 and indicated a private
use by a member of the American Army or his
The earlier DS in Japan were "American", in two ways: first, they were sold to foreigners,
mostly personel of the American Army, and second, they were of the US-export type.
The USA-export type DS is easily identified
by the protruding front indicators, imposed
by the American legislation. Exports to the
US started indeed as early as 1956, but I
must admit I can't explain why this specific
type was used for exportation to Japan
during those early years... Not mentioning
the fact that the driving wheel was on the
left, not the ideal configuration for Japan's
Right and below: in "Saishin
Jidosha Dokuhon" (something
like "Motor Trend"), feb. 1960, a
full page with an "American"
DS19, along with a few lines of
commentary: "The most
advanced car in the world", etc.
In July 1960, another car, with
obviously the same passengers, is
featured simultaneously in two
different car magazines: "Mainichi
Graph - Joyosha-e no shotai"
(Mainichi Graphic - An invitation to
the automobile), right, and "Nihon
no Motorist" (The Japanese
Motorist), below, with the most
accurate legend: "a DS-19, USA
The car also bears these so-called
"ashtrays" hot-air outlets on the front
wings, introduced on that
Note the white-walled tires, which
seem to have been fairly common
The very early years of the DS in Japan were thus very "American". But after the gradual
(and relative) liberalization of car imports in 1962, the vast majority of the DS to be seen in
Japan's streets, if not all, were of a standard type, and with the wheel on the right, as it