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Citroen SM: Just looking

The magnificent Citroen SM combines unique styling, exotic Maserati engine and advanced suspension system. What’s not to like?


Just look at it. The Citroen SM occupies the road like absolutely no other car ever produced, and nice examples are still affordable. I know styling is a subjective subject, and the SM is something you either love it or hate it – but I squarely fall into the first category.

Citroen launched its revolutionary grand tourer in 1970, after buying a failing Maserati in 1968, drawing on the firm’s high-performance engine-building expertise. Under the skin it utilised the same hydraulic suspension system as the revolutionary DS, with a newly developed 2.7-litre V6 engine from Maserati under the long bonnet. Citroen championed the front-wheel drive layout, so anything else would have been unacceptable.

One of the Citroen SM’s major technical achievements was the use of a fully-hydraulic steering system, called DIRAVI, which offered variable assistance and a hyper-quick rack (as well as a strong self centring action). Just two turns from lock to lock in fact. That’s still quick by today’s standards, but in 1970 people didn’t really know what to make of it.

All of this came at a price though. The SM cost Citroen a fortune to develop, and thanks to similar standards of technology on the subsequent GS and CX models, as well as the 1973 energy crisis almost bankrupted the company. The French government forced Peugeot to step in, and the rest is history…

Although values for nice examples have been gently rising for the last few years, the SM still represents great value when considered against its contemporary rivals. A surprising number of SMs were sold in the USA, which perhaps explains why prices are still sensible. The only problem is, these US-spec Citroens looked significantly different, with fixed quad headlights up front (losing the brilliant swiveling driving lights and glass coverings) side rubbing strips and running lights. It is possible, although not cheap, to convert them back to their correct specification.

Buying a UK or European specification car (the SM was only offered in LHD form, even in the UK) is the easier option, and although there are a good number of cars to choose from, it’s important to buy a good example – as repairs to that Maserati engine are not cheap. London-based dealer, DD Classics, is currently offering one good example of the breed.

First registered in 1971 to an owner in Liechtenstein, this Gold SM was specced with a desirable tan leather interior. It stayed with the original owner until 1994, and has subsequently been exported to the UK from Switzerland in 2013.

As you might expect, there is a comprehensive folder of history, and DD Classics describe the car as being in ‘astonishing condition’ as well as ‘on the button’ and ready to drive.

>> Take a look at the Citroen SM advert offered by DD Classics here

Citroen SM Classifieds

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