1974 Citroen SM (Right Hand Drive)
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 rare and unique, right hand drive Citroen SM.
This particular car was built in July 1974 for the UK market. It has the ‘SC’ chassis number prefix which designates the car has the 2.7 litre engine (with fuel injection) and manual transmission. This car also features the desirable swivelling headlights, which were not offered on the American market cars.
It is understood that this car is one of the four Citroen SM’s that was imported into Australia when new and converted to right hand drive by Chappell Engineering in Melbourne. The car was originally ‘bleu delta métallisé’ (metallic blue) with a ‘tabac’ (brown) leather interior and grey velour trim. The car still retains this STUNNING colour combination today.
Not much is known about its early history. In the 1990’s the car found its way to the New South Wales mid north coast. There are a lot of receipts on file from that period including receipts for an engine rebuild. Unfortunately, the car’s then owner only got to enjoy this Citroen SM for a short period before he passed away in 2012. The car was then stored for 2 years before the current owner was able to acquire it in 2014. The first thing he did after acquiring the car was to have it serviced. All fluids were replaced except for the LHM fluid. Some other minor issues were rectified before the car was registered in Queensland. The car became part of an interesting and quite diverse collection and was used sporadically. In the current owners ownership the car has been fitted with electronic ignition. A fault was detected in the wiring harness which was subsequently replaced. All the hydraulic suspension spheres and the accumulator have been reconditioned. Other miscellaneous mechanical works have also been undertaken.
Today this car presents well. The exterior colour of ‘bleu delta métallisé’ (metallic blue) really suits the car. The Citroen SM is a car that carries colour exceptionally well. We have sold a number of SM’s over the years in all sorts of interesting colours, but none better than ‘bleu delta métallisé’ (metallic blue). We think the car looks stunning in the photos, but it looks even better in the flesh!
The paint work on the car is at least 30 years old. In general, the paint is in good condition and still has a strong depth of colour. Upon closer inspection there are a few stone chips and marks on the body consistent with a car that has been used. Walking around the car we noticed that the rubber inserts on both the front and rear bumper have some scrape marks on them. The brightwork on the car is generally in good condition but we did notice a few small marks on the front bumper. The glass is also generally in good condition, though there are some small stone chips on the front windscreen but nothing that would obstruct the view. The headlight covers and the front number plate cover, which are a real feature on these Citroen SM’s, are in good condition with no marks. The same can be said for all the lights and lenses, with the exception being one of the front right hand side headlight lenses, which is cracked and the reversing light which is a little bit faded.
The interior presents well with just the right amount of patina The seats are in good condition, both at the front and the rear and there are no rips or tears in the leather. The carpets are in good condition but we did notice a small tear in the headlining on the passenger side. The dashboard has suffered from exposure to the Australian sun and there are a few small cracks in it. The instruments are all clean and appear to be in good working order. The car is fitted with air conditioning, however, that is currently disconnected. The wheels are all in good condition and the tyres have been replaced in 2019. The car currently sits on Maxtrek Maximus M1 205/60/15 tyres.
Driving a Citroen SM is an experience. They are unlike any of their German or American counter parts. The experience starts as soon as you start the car. The first thing that will happen is that the hydraulic system will starts charging itself and the car will rise from its resting position to the appropriate ride height. The actual height can be controlled by a lever next to the driver seat. Once the hydraulic system is completely charged you are ready to go for a drive. When you drive a Citroen SM, there are two other things you will notice very quickly. The first one is that there is no brake pedal as such, only a small ‘mushroom button’ on the floor. This is what operates the brakes and it is very sensitive. You only have to just touch it for the brakes to work. The second thing is the steering. The steering on a Citroen SM is very direct. It only takes two turns to go from full lock to full lock. The steering is also self-centring, which will take a little while to get used to. However, once you do you really appreciate that a Citroen SM was and still is, a brilliant piece of engineering and way ahead of its time. There was nothing like it back then and quite frankly there was nothing like it ever built. A Citroen SM is totally unique and it is all its quirky features that make driving the car such a cool experience.
This particular car is a lot of fun to drive. The engine feels strong, it provides plenty of power and it revs freely right through the range. This is not surprising since the car has hardly been used since the engine was rebuilt 20 something years ago. The manual gearbox is precise and the gear changes are smooth both up and down the box. Out on the open road this car just glides along. The hydraulic suspension absorbs most of the bumps without any problem and even a speed bump is a ‘non event’ for an SM. It’s amazing how quickly you forget that you are driving a 48 year old car.
This Citroen SM’s current owner lives west of Brisbane and the car was driven around 150 km on its journey to our showroom where it did not miss a beat.
The car is probably suffering a little from lack of use and it is likely that its new owner will have to attend to a few minor issues to ensure it becomes a reliable classic.
A change in direction has resulted in the current owner now reluctantly offering this car for sale.
The last right hand drive Citroen SM sold in Australia was at Shannons’ 2021 Spring Auction held in Melbourne. This car was a Peter McLeod conversion and not one of the original Chappell Engineering converted car cars and that sold for $146,000!
As such, we think our right hand drive 1974 Citroen SM offers exceptional value for money.
- Converted new to right hand drive by Chappell Engineering in Melbourne.
- Desirable example with swivelling headlights, manual gearbox and fuel injection
- Good history file going back to the 1990’s.
- Finished in the most STUNNING colour combination.
- Citroen SM
- 28,566 miles