1971 Citroen SM

  • 1971 Citroen SM
  • Finished in Vert Argenté
  • Recent engine rebuild and new suspension spheres
  • Imported from France in 2019

Presented in the striking shade of Vert Argenté, this Citroën SM was imported to the UK from France in 2019. At that time, it had just been treated to a programme of restoration and recommissioning for its Paris-based owner.

The work was carried out by specialists in Brittany in north-west France and included bodywork repairs ahead of a respray. The hydraulic system was overhauled and electrical components such as the front window operating mechanisms were stripped and repaired.

The quad-cam Maserati V6 engine was removed and rebuilt, with new con-rod bearings being fitted. The primary and secondary chains were replaced, along with their tensioners, the coolant hoses were replaced, and a new clutch was fitted. The carburettors were ultrasonic cleaned and rebuilt, with all-new seals, while electronic ignition and a stainless-steel exhaust were also fitted.

The spheres for the hydropneumatic suspension were replaced and a new accumulator fitted, and all of the work is detailed in the history file.

Since being imported into the UK and registered EKH 426J, this Citroën SM has been looked after and serviced by marque specialist Tony Weston. Now being offered for sale at The Classic Motor Hub, it is a fine example of this stylish and highly individual Grand Tourer.

The suspension rises on command and offers that unique ‘magic carpet’ ride quality, while the Maserati engine gives the SM a level of performance well above that of its DS sibling – and all to the accompaniment of a cultured exhaust note.

Model history

From the pre-war Traction Avant to the CX of the 1970s and ’80s, Citroen enjoyed a golden period of highly individual, brilliantly engineered and flamboyantly designed cars. When it was launched at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, the SM was the latest example of that original thinking.

Citroën had bought Maserati in 1968 and powered its new flagship – which had been designed by Robert Opron – with the Italian company’s quad-cam, 2670cc, 90-degree V6 engine. It ran on Weber carburettors or fuel injection and produced 170bhp – enough to give the SM a top speed in excess of 135mph.

Elsewhere, the new car benefitted from much of the technology and design wizardry that had gone into the ground-breaking DS – and then some. Suspension was independent all round and used Citroën’s famous hydropneumatic system, while the brakes were power-operated discs. There was a choice of transmission – a five-speed manual or a three-speed auto – and the Citroen SM was front-wheel drive.

The powered steering was incredibly direct and featured a variable level of assistance that made it very light when parking but more effort was needed as the speed increased. It also had a self-centring function, and a number of road-testers commented that it took them a little while to become accustomed to it – but that it worked brilliantly when they did.

One of those to be seduced by the SM was Motor Sport correspondent Denis Jenkinson. ‘I can recall the first time I saw one parked by the roadside,’ he wrote in 1972. ‘I stopped and went back to enjoy being in the presence of such a beautiful-looking piece of machinery.’

When he finally got to drive one, ‘Jenks’ wrote: ‘To say that the SM lived up to all my expectations, and more, is to understate the case. It rates at the very top of my list of desirable cars, even above the Dino Ferrari, which I rated as the ultimate in sports cars. The SM is even more than that, it is the ultimate in serious motoring.’

Just under 13,000 SMs were built before production came to an end in 1975, but its blend of style, innovation and performance means that it remains a high-water mark in Citroën’s history – and without doubt one of the coolest cars ever made.

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