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Citroen SM – 1974

This car has been sold, thank you for your interest

Please see nice presentation video below

Citroën’s SM was a technological tour de force, imagine a bunch of French engineers wearing nylon stockings, pointed shoes and a Gauloises fixed permanently into the corner of their mouth: ‘Ah bien! Let’s create something the world has never seen before. And so they did. The SM is so different, so superior, so elegant, so arrogant, so French. No, absolutely no other car could offer the same combination of stylish comfort, high performance and sharp handling as the exquisite SM. And no other car at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show where the SM was presented was so bizarrely radical.

Since the early 60s, Citroën had been working on ‘Project S’ – a sporty version of the revolutionary DS. The old-fashioned engine in the DS had been the drawback since its introduction. When Citroen in 1968 purchased the threatened Maserati company, the gained full access to the Italian engine technology necessary to produce a true high-class Grand Tourer. Giulio Alfieri at Maserati was given a few months to deliver an engine – and so he did.

Alfieri created a true jewel. The Tipo C114 engine has 4 overhead chain-driven camshafts. The aluminum engine block is just 33 centimeters long! Initially 2.7 liters and something as unusual as a 90 degree V6. It gives the car a very characteristic engine sound at idle, which increase to the familiar roar at high revs, typical of thoroughbred Italian engines with roots in racing. This compact power plant gave the car a top speed of 220 km/h. But what impressed the journalists testing the car was the ability to maintain 200 km/h, hour after hour, without either driver or car getting the least bit tired.

A refined version of the hydropneumatic suspension from the DS was an incomparable comfort feature. It was also a major contributor to an exceptionally short stopping distance, that even today still impresses. The famous mushroom brake valve is also found here as a brake pedal, but after a bit of getting used to, it is easy to operate. And with a quick flick of the lever arm, you can switch from low-speed freeway flight mode to maximum ground clearance, so that the considerate SM owner could drive a French poodle without the tripping mademoiselle in the Chanel walking suit even noticing that Fi-Fi was just overflown by an intergalactic spaceship.

The most notable technical innovation in the SM however, was the car’s speed-dependent power steering. Something completely new at the time and only now becoming avaible on modern cars. The servo provides great assistance during parking maneuvers and less support at high speed. The steering response with only 2 revolutions on the oval steering wheel from stop to stop, provides a razor-sharp steering in turns. Very powerful brakes operated with a sensitive rubber ball that acts as the brake pedal, the special suspension that causes the car to sit slightly sit backwards and not forwards as conventional cars do, and the sharp ‘sneeze and crash’ steering, make a re-training in basic driving techniques required before the space journey ‘back to the future’ starts.

The 6 separate headlights: 2 dipped headlights, 2 main headlights and 2 cornering lights, the latter which turn with the front wheels and when turning illuminate the road instead of the field opposite, all hidden behind a Plexiglas cover, help to give the car a futuristic look. The sumptuous design is followed all the way to the door by an equally opulent Art Deco-inspired cabin, in which you feel very comfortable.

The Citroën Sport Maserati was an advanced car – and still is. However, that should not deter the slightly more experienced classic or Citroën enthusiast from a closer acquaintance. An SM is far better than its undeserved reputation as unreliable, difficult and complicated. The hydropneumatic suspension is actually quite robust and is familiar to any Citroën workshop. Together with a relatively reasonable spare parts situation and a large international forum of SM enthusiasts, the SM can be maintained without requiring a coincidence between the car’s model designation and the owner’s sexual preferences. The important thing is to get hold of a car that hasn’t been standing still for many years, because the hydraulics as well as the engine don’t like that. A SM must be excercised to avoid growing together.

That is precisely the case with this car. It belonged to a retired German lawyer with residence in Southern Germany and Denmark. As his favorite touring car among a larger collection of classics, it regularly traveled the Munich – Copenhagen distance, exactly as it was built for: At high speed! His cars were characterized by being mechanically well maintained, whereas paint and finish were not in focus. We bought the car last year and have now completed an extensive restoration, so that the car once again looks majestic as it deserves. The bodywork has been taken completely apart, then painted in the original and correct Bleu d’Orient Métallisé. Matching the cabin, which is done in new and delicious black leather. Mechanics, engine and undercarriage have been reviewed, and a new stainless steel exhaust has been fitted, just among many other things. All work photo-documented. This Air France Business Class is now ready to please and impress its next owner.