Citroen has always been know for its often quirky but forward-thinking design and when they released the model DS in 1955 is certainly shook up the automotive world. With its futuristic design and groundbreaking technology, it set new standards for what was capable of a road-going passenger vehicle. Work began on a sporting version of the DS as early as 1961. Titled “Project S”, development took almost 9 years and in the end, Citroen wound up designing an entirely new vehicle that would come to be known as the “SM”. The all-new SM was a front-engine, front-wheel drive, high-performance coupe, which was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1970. Designed in-house by Citroens own Robert Opron, the SM was powered by a Maserati built 2.7-liter V-6 engine, producing a respectable 170 horsepower and mated to either a 3-speed automatic transmission or a much more rare and desirable 5-speed manual transmission. Citroen packed numerous technical innovations into the SM, some of which were borrowed from the DS series including hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension and swiveling self-leveling lights, which were unfortunately omitted from US cars due to legal issues. The SM was fitted with Citroens all-new variable-assist power steering called DIRAVI, which was self-centering and fully powered, providing for feather-light steering inputs. Although the technology was controversial at the time, the basic principles of the DIRAVI system would later find their way into automotive production across the board. Additional interesting technology housed in the SM included a wiper mechanism that was “rain sensitive,” fully adjustable steering column, disc brakes on all four corners with self-adjusting front to rear balance, and optional (later becoming standard equipment) carbon-reinforced glass fiber resin “plastic” wheels on later cars. The US was the main export market for the SM and given its unique styling and innovative technology it made quite an impact in America. In 1972 it was awarded Motor Trend magazine Car of the Year award, which until this time was unheard of for a non-US vehicle. Certain modifications were necessary to import the SM cars, including the removal of the 6 headlight setup of the European version, as well as the removal of the glass covers which sat over top of the headlights. Despite strong initial sales in the US market, the SM was dealt a death blow in 1974 when it did not receive an exception to the 5mph bumper regulation which was put in place by NHTSA. The trick variable height suspension, which had been a key selling point of the car made compliance all but impossible. The final 134 cars which were to be destined for the United States were instead shipped to Japan and sold there. In total, approximately only 2400 Citroen SM made their way stateside between 1972 and 1973, making US-spec models quite rare. The SM however was ultimately a success for Citroen, beautifully showcasing not only their unique and interesting design work but also pushing the boundaries of current automotive technology of the time.
This example on offer here is a rare U.S. specification 1972 Citroen SM, chassis number 00SB6469. It is a very well preserved model which is largely unrestored and finished in the same beautifully contrasting Orient Blue exterior with Light Brown interior that it left the factory with. This SM is also equipped with a rare and desirable 5-speed manual transmission. Originally sold on 1/23/1973 and delivered new to Marina Del Rey California, this particular SM was later a long term resident of Arizona, aiding in the overall dry and well-preserved nature of the car. Extensive service records, dating all the way back to 1973 are included with the car, further supporting the originality of this SM. In more recent times, a full engine rebuild was carried out in 2006, completed by Dorman’s Vintage Car Garage in LaPorte Indiana. The hydraulic suspension was serviced and rebuilt in 2009 and on the interior, the seats were redone in 2014. In March of 2015, this SM was treated to a thorough sorting by Sports and Collector Car Center of Tempe, Arizona amounting to almost $11,000 in billing. This thorough sorting included new exhaust, brake service, fuel system service, clutch service, fluid change, chassis lube, carburetor service, and a new set of Michelin XWX tires amongst a few other things. Receipts for all recent servicing as well as service work dating back to 1973 are available and included with the car. Thanks to its years of careful service and ownership, this SM remains in fantastic original condition and is very strong mechanically. It runs and drives very nicely and currently needs nothing but a new home.
Included with the sale of this vehicle are the factory jack and spare wheel, radio manual, and a copy of the owner’s manual.
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