Ultra Rare and Highly Desired European Delivery Fuel Injected Example with Turning Headlights. Nearly $50,000 in Recent Mechanical Restoration and Detailed Sorting. Everything Works, Needs Nothing.
1973 Citroen SM
Gold with Brown and Tan Leather
The Citroen SM is one of the most breathtaking automobiles ever conceived. Even when considering the year of launch, now almost half a century ago, the remarkable design still impresses today. In 1970 Citroen could very well have rested on their extensive cadre of design innovation and mechanical engineering pioneered in the Traction Avant, the thrifty 2CV, the ground breaking DS, or any number of firsts including the use of mass production disc brakes and adjustable height oleopneumatic suspension. Instead, when revealed at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, Citroen delivered a shockingly amazing car, the unmistakable SM.
Having recently purchased Maserati, Citroen asked their engineering team to develop a six-cylinder engine, which would serve their use in the Merak, and be available for the new Citroen. While the rare French-Italian partnership might seem an odd pairing, the effort produced surprisingly unified results. The 90 degree quad cam V6 was coupled either to a 5-speed manual or an automatic transmission, both of which delivered power smoothly and effectively. The remarkably fluid body design was very efficient and visually striking, employing a tall Kamm tail, smooth roofline and large rear glass, covered rear wheels, and a wide front track which narrowed at the rear, giving the car a tapered plan. All of these features resulted in a coefficient of drag of just .26, an astonishingly low number for a production car of any era. Other mechanical features included disc brakes all round (inboard at the front to reduce unsprung weight), automatically adjusted hydraulic brake bias using weight distribution sensors, adjustable oleopneumatic suspension, and variable assist power steering, to name just a few innovations.
Upon release, the automotive press unanimously praised the Citroen SM as one of the most technically advanced automobiles of the century. Not only was the SM fast, it was phenomenally well balanced and comfortable in high speed situations, and nimble on mountain roads. In 1971 Road & Track declared it one of the 10 Best Cars in the World. In 1972 it was awarded the Motor Trend Car of the Year. On the road, the SM could achieve 140mph with confidence, making it the fastest front wheel drive car in the world. In every respect the Citroen SM lived up to the praise and accolades so rightfully deserved, but is perhaps best defined by automotive journalist Ken Purdy who wrote a 1971 Playboy article raving about the then new Citroen SM:
“The French like to call a fast car a Bolide, a thunderbolt, but the SM is more than that, really a sports/limousine, a motor carriage that makes one think of the characterization commonly tagged to the great 320hp SJ Duesenberg of the Thirties: either the fastest luxury car or the most luxurious fast car that money can buy.”
This particular example comes from a dedicated Citroen specialist and fastidious collector. Having owned seven Citroens, he specifically sought out a 1973 SM with a fuel-injected 2.7 liter engine as it was the more robust and reliable version, favored over the 3.0 liter as sold in the US. The European series SM was built without the visually distracting side marker lights and featured the more dynamic six-headlight front end. This novel array of covered headlights housed a central pair that turned with the steering under hydraulic power. The rare combination of fuel-injection and rotating headlights make this particular Citroen SM an exceptionally rare car, particularly in North America.
Originally sold new in France to a former Shell Oil Company Director, the car was very well preserved under his ownership before it was sold to a Citroen collector in Bordeaux, France who also carefully maintained the car until the current owner purchased it in 2016. After his purchase, the current owner drove the car briefly before shipping it to David Hume’s Excelsior Motors in Kentucky. Hume was instructed to go over every aspect of the car in order to ensure that it would drive as though it were new, being reliable but also to exacting Citroen standards. Invoices accompanying the car attest to this mutual agreement, totaling in excess of $48,000.00.
Among the many detailed items tended to while under Hume’s care, the exhaust system was replaced with a stainless steel dual exhaust, the oleopneumatic suspension was rebuilt and all spheres recharged with Nitrogen. All new rubber boots and seals were also installed to prevent and leaking. The power steering rack was rebuilt also with new seals and boots. The entire engine and transmission were removed, disassembled and inspected. New Maserati cylinder sleeves, piston rings, and bearings were installed. A new old stock EFI distributor was purchased ($1,500.00), fuel injectors sent out for flow and metering, and all correct gaskets sourced for the engine rebuild. The heads were fortified with stainless steel exhaust valves and new seals, and a new, stronger Reynolds Synergy cam chain and tensioners were installed. While the engine and transmission were out of the car, the clutch and clutch master cylinder was replaced, and the flywheel resurfaced.
Continuing the mechanical efforts on the engine compartment, the engine and all systems were correctly restored and refinished to a very high standard. A new Rotary air conditioning compressor was installed and all A/C lines replaced. The front brake calipers were rebuilt and the brake system serviced as needed. The correct and original hydraulic headlight unit was adjusted for proper steering operation, brass window motor gears installed (improving on the original Delrin types), weather stripping for the doors and rear hatch were replaced, a new Pilkington windshield installed, and a pair of retractable seatbelts fitted to the front seats. The car was detailed cosmetically including polishing the bumpers and tending to various finishes as needed. A set of Michelin XWX tires were installed and the car road tested. In May 2019, after approximately 750 miles had been driven the engine was compression tested yielding 165 psi in all cylinders. The present owner desired a miles per hour speedometer, so Hume sourced and installed the current speedometer/odometer unit which shows 53,860 miles, removing the original kilometer speedo which showed 68,726kms (or 42,704 miles) at the time. Therefore, the total mileage from new is actually in the range of 43,700, with less than 1,000 miles have been driven since the extensive mechanical restoration work was completed.
Today this rare and beautiful Citroen SM presents in excellent condition, displaying a combination of superb restoration and originality. The overall care from current and previous owners is immediately evident in many aspects of the car. Having been repainted sometime ago, the finish presents well with high gloss throughout showing smooth surface transitions and properly polished trim. The paint appears to have been applied with the door handles and glass in place, showing minor evidence of masking when viewed closely. There are some paint areas that have been touched up and a few minor chips evident on closer examination, but none of these items detract from the look of the car. The panel fit is excellent particularly with crisp shutting doors, the expansive hood, and rear glass, all of which open and close smoothly. The factory correct wheels are properly finished and shod with correct Michelin XWX tires. The glass, body trim, emblems, lenses and glass headlight covers, with correct etched lines, are in exceptionally nice condition. The polished trim and various chrome remain in good to very good condition. Fit and finish is cohesive throughout, given the complex nature of the components in an SM. The visual condition of the car is very satisfying with great stance, dynamic presence, working suspension, and rotating headlights – revealing excellence that only marque experts can so faithfully prepare.
The interior features a beautifully finished dash with a near perfect top surface, handsome instrumentation, impeccably detailed knobs, and switches, and a factory Blaupunkt Coburg Tri-Band radio. While some of the original interior chrome is showing mild signs of age, the overall impression of the interior is delightful. The leather seats are original and in excellent condition, in signature Citroen factory “tabac” leather with proper foam padding and correct stitching, offering firm front seat support. The rear seating appears to have been only minimally used and is also in excellent condition. The headliner, visors, and all accompanying interior surfaces, believed to be original, are nicely presented with careful attention to detail. The only interior aspect showing evidence of use is the original carpeting which exhibits some minor discoloration in the driver’s footwell and entry threshold. In all, the wonderfully futuristic interior is both visually delightful and comfortable when driving.
Lifting the streamlined hood and gazing past the distinctive covered headlight cluster, the factory correct Maserati engine and engine compartment are beautifully revealed. The engine bay, the cast fuel-injection plenum, all systems, and the original engine have been restored to what must be the finest level of cosmetic and mechanical finish one will ever see in an SM. The complex network of componentry and detailed finishes are correctly lined and positioned using correct factory hoses, hardware, proper factory decals and labels, all affixed in their original locations, including a nicely finished hood insulation pad. And while the restoration work in the engine compartment is comprehensive, the general impression is one of very high-quality restoration combined with original surfaces. The undercarriage is further remarkable in every respect with clean surfaces, stainless steel exhaust, elegantly designed and purposeful suspension and brake components, and no visible evidence of structural compromise. The undercarriage not only presents a fine example of a rare SM, it further impresses, revealing the unique suspension and chassis engineering found only in a Citroen.
Driving the Citroen SM one is reminded of the exceptional performance these cars delivered when new and still offer when mechanically prepared to this level. The car starts with ease, benefiting from new ignition and fuel-injection. The sound is both quiet and throaty, almost humming as though matching the spaceship-like design of the overall car. Slipping into the leather seat and gripping the distinctive Citroen steering wheel the car takes off smoothly and easily. The gearbox is smooth and effortless having benefited from comprehensive rebuild and sorting by marque experts. Throttle response is quite surprising as the smooth torque curve gradually brings on power as high speeds surprisingly build. Handling is legendary and deceptively comfortable, easing into hard corners with responsive steering, and acceleration coming out of the apex much like a sports car. Once underway at highway speeds, the ride is superlative in every respect. The A/C blows cold, the road noise is minimal, and mystifyingly more power remains on tap for rapid passing as the aerodynamic body slips through the air, hunkering down under the remarkable suspension. Driving the SM, even the most conservative drivers need reminding that 140mph speeds were achieved in period testing.
Having benefited from precise engine, suspension, and brake work recently performed on the car, it would be challenging to find another SM of such fine distinction. This rare European fuel-injected, steering headlight example combining exceptional mechanical traits and fine cosmetics will truly delight onlookers and drivers with every mile behind the wheel. The car comes with tools, a factory support mount for raising the suspension to change a tire, an owner’s manual, a complete set of spare keys, and records supporting the restoration work completed in June 2019.
An absolute legend of iconic beauty and remarkable GT performance, this Citroen SM lives up to the ambitious performance objectives achieved under the unique partnership with Maserati. The resulting engineering achievement is further heralded by the premier expertise and collector care given to create such a fine example. Ready to be driven with pride and joy, or exhibited at any Concours field, this Citroen SM will continue to inspire enthusiasts around the world with its incomparable design, dramatic features, and remarkable road manners.
Currently titled and registered in Pennsylvania , this European delivery SM is available to out of State residents or licensed California dealers.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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