Citroën SM (1970-75): prices, weak points, history

Citroën SM (1970-75) prices, weaknesses, history
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The birth of the Citroen S M goes back to 1970. But years before that, Citroen began to think about a front-wheel drive car that should crack the 180 km /h mark. That is why the French decided to build their own sporty car with the project designation 'S' based on the DS.

The Maserati engine was preferred for cost reasons

Kai Klauder
The engine is installed far back, the gearbox is in front of it like the Traction Avant.

The rumor that Citroën would have did not have a suitable motor of its own for this project, that's not true. V6 and V8 engines have been tested, but for cost reasons, Citroën director Pierre Bercot decided to work with Maserati. The first discussions between Maserati engineer Giulio Alfieri and Citroen are said to have taken place as early as 1963. In the autumn of the same year, the first 90-degree V6 engines are said to have been put to the test. It was not until 1966 that Citroen and Maserati officially announced their collaboration.

A short time later, the first prototypes of the SM could be seen on the highways at 220 km /h. At that time, the futuristic-looking car was the fastest front-wheel drive car and, with its abbreviation SM, stood for “Sa Majesté”. For cost reasons, the body was not manufactured by Citroën, but by Chausson. The Citroën SM with 170 DIN-PS its premiere. In autumn, sales of the top Citroën model designed by Robert Opron finally began.

In 1975 the last Citroën SM left the assembly line

Only three years later, the Citroën SM ran into trouble. The vulnerable engine with the insufficiently dimensioned chain tensioner, as well as the first oil crisis, caused the sales figures to plummet. Only 2,619 units were sold. In 1975 the last 114 cars were built by the small-series manufacturer Ligier, to whom Citroën had transferred production. A total of 12,920 Citroën SMs were built.

Oldtimer Galerie
The SM wasn't easy to categorize.

What the quirks As far as the Citroën SM is concerned, it started with the classification into a vehicle category. Because of the two doors it was not a sedan, but also not a sports car because of its heavy weight. The statement from Citroën in the press release at the time: 'Rather, it already combines the wishes of its future drivers, which were previously an unattainable dream of many car connoisseurs: safety, comfort and driving performance.'

Technical innovations such as adaptive headlights

The six headlights behind the glass front of the Citroën SM also caused confusion. There were already problems with the DS because the headlights did not meet the requirements of the authorities. That continued with the SM. The six headlights, which did not have cables inside but could be swiveled via hydraulic cylinders, caused problems for the officers. By the end of 71 the swivel headlights had to be covered and the electrical connection removed. This regulation was only changed by the Federal Motor Transport Authority in November 1971. Before that, the Federal Minister of Transport himself had to give his permission. The subject of adaptive headlights was taken up again years later by various manufacturers, but touted as a novelty. With the license plate behind the glass there are still problems from time to time.

Headlights and license plates behind glass confused the German TÜV.

Another specialty on the Citroën SM was the speed-dependent power steering that automatically returned to the straight-ahead position. It caused problems for some drivers because it had an extremely direct translation and was unfamiliar to some drivers. The hypnopneumatic suspension had its origins in the DS, but on the SM the swing arm supports were mounted in front of the front axle.

The Citroën SM is still a popular car today

Today that applies Citroën SM as an extremely desirable car among its fans. The SM particularly stands for its design, such as the shape that tapers towards the rear and its sophisticated aerodynamics.


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