If any automaker in history proved that avant-garde cars could sell to the general public, it was Citroen. From the elegant simplicity of the 2CV to the advanced DS, Citroens have a reputation for incredibly creative engineering paired with artistic design with a certain flair that only the French can achieve.
The SM was borne of a desire for a sporty car based on the DS to compete with the Porsche 911. Several prototypes were built, based on shortened DS platforms but over time, the project morphed into something totally different than originally intended. What was supposed to be a lightweight sports car became a long, low and loaded GT car. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing. In 1968, Citroen had acquired the ailing Maserati with an eye toward using their engines in the SM. The bosses in Paris requested a new engine from Maserati for their project and they were shown a compact, 90 degree V6 that was basically an older Maserati V8 with two cylinders lopped off. But this engine was just a one-off to see how the V6 concept would be perceived. When the green light was given, Giulio Alfieri started with a clean sheet of paper to design the new V6. When the SM debuted in 1970 it was no longer a lithe sports car, but a full-fledged grand touring car with an exotic, 2.7L V6 and either a 5-speed manual or automatic gearbox and front wheel drive. In typical Citroen fashion, the styling appeared to be inspired by science fiction. The long sweeping body featured wheel spats at the rear and actually tapered like a teardrop when viewed from above. Headlamps encased in glass were hydraulically adjustable and swiveled with the front wheels on European models. The chassis was equally space-age with fully adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension, load sensitive brakes and fully powered, self-centering steering that allowed the car to be set up with zero caster, thereby keeping the tires in full contact with the road at all times. The avant-garde feeling carries on inside when you sit in the rakish seats. Chrome and metallic detailing abounds and even the dash panel is graced with magical oval dials. The SM is truly a car like none other, before or since.
This 1973 SM is from the final year of US production and is in the most desirable specification with the enlarged 3.0L V6 and 5-speed manual gearbox. Anyone well-versed in these machines will tell you this is the ideal spec. This car is in very nice restored condition, and has been carefully modified to be reliable and usable on a regular basis. It has been extensively sorted by one of the foremost experts in the SM world at Excelsior Motors. The troublesome York piston-type A/C compressor has been replaced with a modern Sanden rotary unit, and the alternator has been upgraded to a reliable GM-style one-wire type. In the process, new pulleys were custom machined to convert the car to modern ribbed belts, making for easy service and much more reliable running. All of the specialized hydraulics and electrics are sorted and function properly. A brand new stainless steel exhaust system has been fitted giving the lovely Maserati V6 a proper vocal outlet. Even the correct angled exhaust tips are present – an ultra-rare and important detail. Inside the spectacular cabin, you find tobacco brown leather in beautiful condition. Many of the original panels and the dash have been covered in finely stitched suede, and the seats have been updated to mimic the style of the very late cars, adding a further degree of refinement to the already spectacular interior. The Citroen SM is simply one of the most advanced and unique cars in history. It is unusual to find one so carefully maintained and sensibly upgraded, making it one of the best performing SMs available today.