Snag this head-turning Citroën land-speed racing combo up for grabs at Gooding Scottsdale
There are some cars you can always count on seeing at any decent-sized land-speed racing event at the dry lakebed of El Mirage or the salt flats of Bonneville Speedway. Prewar Ford coupes and roadsters are a given. Sleek Studebakers and third-gen GM F-bodies are also safe bets. A Citroën SM? That’s not your ordinary race car. In the U.S., that’s not even an ordinary collector car. Yet for most of the 1980s, Jerry and Sylvia Hathaway’s SM was a staple of the land-speed racing scene, a racer made even more notable by its custom hauler.
Jerry and Sylvia Hathaway were drawn to the SM when the Buick dealership where Jerry worked added Citroëns to its showroom in 1972. Jerry eventually purchased one and a friend convinced him it would make for a great land-speed car thanks to its low-drag body. With a roll cage and racing seat installed in the stripped interior, and after some some hot-rodding of the rebuilt Maserati V-6, Jerry headed to the notoriously silty El Mirage dry lake in 1979 to see how the car would slice through the air. He managed to set a class record of 151.249 mph on the lake bed’s short, slippery course.
The racing bug bit Jerry hard and he brought the SM to Bonneville and EL Mirage whenever he could, racking up the miles. When the race car’s tow rig and trailer were stolen, Jerry took the opportunity to construct a custom SM to tote the race car, converting the rear to an open bed to accept a trailer hitch. As if that transformation weren’t enough, Jerry built a custom gooseneck trailer—with matching Citroën suspension, of course.
After records in the Altered class while using the factory engine displacement, the Citroën got a new, larger engine and a pair of turbochargers to compete in the Blown Classic Gas Coupe class. This new engine put the car in the D engine class, for vehicles competing with a 261–305.99 cubic-inch engine. There it set the D/BCGC record at 200.002, just barely enough to get Jerry into the 200-mph Club in 1985.
In case you didn’t know, running 200 mph isn’t enough to get your place in the “Two Club.” Not only does your two-run average have to exceed 200 mph, but a record has to be set in the process. That means that running 290 mph in a class in which the record is 291 mph isn’t good enough.
In 1987, Sylvia got behind the Citroën’s wheel and ran a two-way average of 202.301 mph, getting into both the Two Club and the record book. (You can learn more about the car in our article from 2018.) The SM didn’t rest on its ’80s laurels, either; in case you were thinking of snapping this car up and campaigning it yourself, you’d be facing a 217.1705-mph record in the D/BCGC class that was set back in 2017.
After spending time at a few museums, including a stint at the Franco-centric Mullin Museum, this racing combo is headed to Gooding’s Scottsdale sale with no reserve. The presale estimate for this strange trio is $100,000–$200,000. It would surely take more than $200K to replicate these three builds, but the number of bidders for a lot like this has to be small. How many well-heeled land-speed racing fans yearn for a Citroën and also have enough room for a tow rig, a race car, and a trailer? It would only take two to make bidding exciting.