1972 Citroen SM
Citroen is one of the world’s most iconic and innovative automobile manufacturers. Founded by André-Gustave Citroen in 1919, the company produced its first motor vehicle, the Citroen Type A, immediately following the First World War. Prior to this and during the War, Citroen supported France by manufacturing armaments from its then modern factory. Throughout the War, Citroen realised that he had to plan for the future and decided he would manufacture motor vehicles once peace returned to Europe.
In the early years Citroen’s plans were to bring mass production to Europe using the principles developed by Henry Ford. In 1934 Citroen introduced the 7CV or Traction Avant which today is recognised as one of the most important automobiles ever built. The Traction Avant pioneered unitary body construction (with no separate chassis), four wheel independent suspension and front wheel drive. The early 1930’s were tough times for Citroen and the company ultimately filed for bankruptcy in December 1934. Andre Citroen passed away in July 1935 after losing his battle with cancer at the relatively young age of 57. Michelin subsequently took over Citroen and the company went on to become a power house of French industry.
The Citroen brand is synonymous with innovation, however, their cars were also well built and very reliable. Other key milestones in Citroen’s history were the introduction of the Deux Chevaux or 2CV in 1948 and the Goddess DS Series cars in 1955 (which featured a hydro pneumatic self-levelling suspension system, a high pressure hydraulic system, disc brakes and later swivelling headlights). What is often overlooked is that Citroen has a rich motorsport pedigree, particularly in rallying, where it has won many events and championships over the years.
Citroen always had a vision to build a sporting version of their iconic DS series cars. The missing piece of the puzzle was found following Citroen’s acquisition of Maserati in 1968. Citroen decided to use a Maserati engine to power their new sports saloon.
The result was the Citroen SM, first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1970. It went on sale in France in September of that year. Citroen only built left hand drive SM’s, although right hand drive conversions were done in the UK and Australia. The SM was a success for Citroen with 12,920 examples built from 1970 through until 1975. The majority of the cars were built in 1971 and 1972. The oil crisis in 1973 and Citroen’s bankruptcy in 1974 ultimately led to the demise of the SM.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a fabulous Citroen SM.
This particular car was built in May 1972 for the US market. It has the ‘SB’ chassis number prefix which designates the car has the 2.7 litre engine (with carburettors) and the desirable manual gearbox. The car is fitted with a sunroof and as such quite rare. We understand that only 100 US market cars were fitted with an electric sliding steel sunroof built by ASC.
This car has a fabulous back story. It was purchased new by a Detroit based motoring executive and car collector for his daughter as a high school graduation present. She was 16 years old at the time! She is understood to have been besotted with her new Citroen (who wouldn’t!) and in the early days she used the car regularly. The car was understood to have been last registered in Michigan in 1989, where it carried the licence plate 510 BND. It was understood to have been parked up with a mechanical problem which the local mechanics were unable to resolve. The car was later advertised for sale and stumbled upon by Australian based Citroen SM specialist Peter McLeod who was in the USA looking to buy a few cars. Peter vividly recalls the car. He travelled to Michigan to inspect it and immediately liked what he saw. He bought the car on the spot and rather than have it collected on a truck, tinkered with it for half an hour and drove it away. The owner was mortified as no one could fix her beloved Citroen! At that time the car had travelled 46,000 miles. That was circa 1998 and the car was imported into Australia and subsequently restored. The car was displayed in the William Street, Sydney Citroen show room where it caught the eye of an astute Citroen enthusiast. The interesting catch was that he was living in London at the time and happened to be back in Sydney visiting family. He also owned an SM in London and obviously thought it was a good idea to have another one back ‘home’! The car was registered in NSW as ALF 47P. The owner only managed two trips home in ten years where he got to drive his Citroen SM. It was left to his immediate family to care for and occasionally exercise the car. In 2001 and 2002 the car was shown at various Citroen club events in NSW and it was a prize winner at their concours d’elegance. Fast track to 2012 and with a child on the way it became time to sell the SM. The car changed hands and into the care of a passionate Brisbane Citroen enthusiast. At that time the odometer was at 58,600 miles. This Citroen SM’s third owner passed away recently and this car is now reluctantly offered for sale. Today the odometer reads 97,972 miles which is genuine. Since arriving into Australia and after its restoration the car has been looked after by respected Citroen specialists in Sydney, the NSW Southern Highlands and more recently in Brisbane.
When restored, the car was repainted in ‘brun scarabee’ however, the owner opted for a similar but stronger colour used by Toyota called Brown Pearl Metallic, code 4M8. This combined with the tan interior is in our opinion a perfect colour combination for an SM. It looks great in the photos but even better in the flesh!
Today this Citroen SM still presents beautifully. The paintwork is still fresh with a strong depth of colour. There are some minor blemishes and imperfections evident, but you would not think that the car was painted around 20 years ago and travelled 50,000 miles since then. All of the exterior trim, glass and lenses are in very good condition, consistent with the rest of the car. The interior is ‘just lovely’, showing the slightest amount of patina. The instruments and controls are in good condition and everything is in working order, even the air conditioning which blows cold air. The most noticeable defects inside the car is the trim covering the rear quarter on both sides of the car which have discoloured. This may well be original to the car.
Not surprisingly, the starting procedure for the SM is basically the same as the Maserati Merak. Turn the key to energise the fuel pumps and get fuel in to the carburettors, pull out the choke, three pumps on the throttle and then turn the key. This SM starts easily from cold and settles into a smooth idle. Quickly the hydraulic system charges and the car adjusts its ride height. It’s quirky but very cool! Driving an SM is a unique experience. All of the controls are very sensitive, yet incredibly precise and direct. You get the hang of it quickly and the self-centring steering is actually really good. After a few miles you think to yourself . . . “I really get this car”. This is a very good example. The engine pulls strongly and the gear change is smooth and direct. It is easy to drive, yet it has plenty of performance on tap when needed, but it does it all in a very refined manner. The real surprise is just how incredibly smooth the car is to drive . . . the ride, the handling and the gear change are all silky smooth.
Under the bonnet it is clean, neat and tidy. Importantly the car is mechanically sorted and the hydraulics work as they should. The car has just been serviced and passed a Queensland roadworthy inspection. It is now ready for a new owner.
The car has all its ID tags in place, including the body number tag, chassis number tag and body paint code tag which reads AC427, confirming the car was originally painted in ‘brun scarabee’.
Accompanying this car is the original warranty and maintenance guide, an owner’s manual, the original operating instructions for the sunroof, a ‘scrap book’ containing an original Michigan title, historical documentation, restoration photos, subsequent photos of the car at various shows and other interesting Citroen SM information. There is also a spare wheel and Citroen jack stand.
The car is really an engineering masterpiece. It looks like nothing else (except a Citroen!), it is technologically brilliant and is perhaps best described as a ‘sporting Rolls-Royce’!
This particular Citroen SM has a fascinating history and it is just a wonderful example of this iconic car. Inspection is a must!
- Citroen SM
- 97972 miles