History of the 1970-1975 Citroen SM
In the late 1960s, Citroen acquired Maserati, in part due to a desire to create a high-performance halo car, The result was the Citroen SM, which debuted in 1970. The SM used a Maserati four-cam V-6 (later used in the Merak), which was placed in a front-wheel-drive coupe. The result was a four-seat GT capable of 140 mph and 0-60 times of 8.6 seconds.
Keeping in tune with the Citroen DS, the SM was packed with cutting edge technology. Most notable were the precise variable assist power steering, a slippery profile, rain-sensing wipers, and all manner of hydro-pneumatic driven systems: self-leveling suspension and headlights (advanced features despite being used on the DS in 1955), and inboard front disc brakes. The engine was initially an all-alloy 2.7-liter V-6 that produced 170 hp. A 180-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 was also available for a time during the model’s production run. Both 5-speed manual (later used in the Lotus Esprit) and 3-speed automatic transmissions were available.
Inside, the car was an exercise in French high style of the day. Thickly bolstered leather seats, a single-spoke steering wheel, and stylized gauges and other accoutrements stand out from other cars of the day. Fewer than 13,000 were built during its 5-year run, and the SM had to hastily exit the U.S. market in 1974 as the car could not be modified to meet crash mandates. Citroen later declared bankruptcy a year later, at which point the SM was axed.
For a long while the Citroen SM was dogged by a reputation for poor reliability and expensive fixes. Lately, however, the cars have become more popular among discerning buyers who appreciate a well-maintained car’s abilities. The well-maintained aspect is key here, as these aren’t cars that will stay on the road long when left to the care of unfamiliar mechanics or careless owners. The Citroen SM still feels advanced when driven today, and it can provide comfortable, high-speed, long-distance cruising for prices far below what similarly capable cars trade at. Euro cars tend to be at the top of the list as they carry the trick turning headlights (six of them).