What is today but yesterday's tomorrow?

It's not uncommon to hear the Tesla Model S electric car described as a "car of the future," or something to that effect, but it's hardly the first to get that designation over the years.

Throughout automotive history, many cars have been considered so advanced for their time that they represented the coming of a new technological era.

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So how does today's car of the future stack up against one of those?

With its sleek design, unorthodox construction, and features like self-leveling suspension, the Citroen DS was widely considered to be the most innovative car of the 1950s.

Or possibly even of the entire 20th century, as Motor Trend contends in the above video comparison of a 1956 DS-19 and a 2013 85-kWh Model S.

Citroen DS

Citroen DS

While most car comparisons focus on performance, fuel economy, or ride comfort, this one was all about innovation, the magazine said.

As has been exhaustively covered here and elsewhere, the Tesla has plenty to offer in that department.

The car's long-range battery-electric powertrain, aerodynamic body, and 17-inch touchscreen display are all impressive technical features.

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As a luxury performance car, the Model S also shattered many preconceptions about what an electric car can be. And the fact that Tesla started from scratch and has gotten as far as it has is noteworthy in this day and age.

Yet the Citroen DS was just as different from its contemporaries as the Model S is compared to most cars today.

That's immediately apparent from looking at the exterior and interior styling--right down to the one-spoke steering wheel.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

There was far more than flash though, including a hydropneumatic suspension system, an automated manual transmission, and bodywork construction modeled on aircraft.

The DS also has a good story--symbolizing the reemergence of the French auto industry after World War II.

Both cars have impressive resumes, then, but which one won the Motor Trend face off?

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The Citroen is already established as one of the most radical cars of its century, the magazine says, but it's a little too early to say the same about the Tesla.

We'll have to wait and see how the Model S looks in 50 years.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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