1973 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 Citroën 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 rare and unique Citroen SM.
This particular car was built in April 1973 for the US market. It has the ‘SD’ chassis number prefix which designates the car has the 3.0 litre engine (with carburettors) and automatic transmission. It is understood that the car was imported into Australia when new and converted to right hand drive by Chappell Engineering and sold new by Victorian Citroen distributors Duttons. The car was originally pearl grey metallic with a ‘tabac’ (brown) interior. It is rumoured that this car was shown at the London Motor Show, however, this is not proven.
The car passed through two owners before being acquired by the current owner in 2002. He immediately embarked on a nut and bolt concours standard restoration. This task was entrusted to world renowned Brisbane restoration company Sleeping Beauties. The restoration was completed in 2004 at a cost exceeding $250,000.
This car has been used and not kept as a show car, therefore, it presents as an older restoration. That said the car presents and drives exceptionally well. The colour combination of silver with a green roof is stunning and a perfect choice for the car. The paint work is still in excellent condition with the odd blemish or imperfection evident that is consistent with its age. All of the exterior trim, glass and lenses are in good condition, though there is some light pitting and scratches evident in some of the chrome. The interior remains ‘like new’, with the green leather a striking colour contrast. The cabin is just ‘a lovely place to be’. The instruments and control are in good condition and everything is in working order with the exception of the air conditioning which most likely needs to be re-gassed.
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, 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. It is easy to drive, yet it has plenty of performance on tap when needed. The real surprise is just how incredibly smooth it 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 it is now ready for a new owner.
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’!
- Citroen SM
- 87,814 Miles