We all know the success of the Citroën DS, but the French giant wanted a sporty version from the start. In the summer of 1961, six years after the DS appeared in production, Citroën finally took the first step and began work on a vehicle with the designation Project S, which was to be the sports version of the Citroën DS.
Citroën acquired Maserati in 1968 and decided to use its technology in the production of GT cars, as well as the Citroën suspension and the Maserati V6 engine. The result is a Citroën SM, presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970, and appeared six months later.
To this day, it is not known why the SM was so named. The S probably comes from Project S, and the M from Maserati, and the version also mentions that SM stands for Sports Maserati. One of the stories is that SM stands for “His Majesty”.
Regardless of the history of the name, SM was Citroen’s best model and competed with other big GM names like Jaguar, Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Porsche. Journalists particularly appreciated the vehicle’s control, both during parking maneuvers and on the highway. Customers were even more enthusiastic and appreciated the combination of comfort, stability and high performance that no other car had at that time.
From the design point of view, the SM looked like the car of the future, but Citroën’s designer, Robert Opron, did not hide that he wanted a car with a design similar to the DS. Many details of the car show that the designer was American, especially with a stern that was a trademark of American cars of the time. The car was also very aerodynamic and had a fairly large tank (90 liters) for its class. The interior was also forward-looking with quality materials.
The choice of the latest technologies was also huge, such as directional lights, cornering stability and brakes. For the first two years, SM offered a 2.7L V6 engine with 170 hp and later increased its power to 178 hp. The slightly larger 3.0L V6 with 180 hp was available from 1971 to 1975. In the first year of production (1970), the SM was the fastest front-wheel drive production car in the world and Citroen claimed to have a top speed of 220 km / h, although some tests have shown that it is actually faster and capable of developing 235 km / h.
Peugeot took over ownership of the company and in May 1975 got rid of Maserati and decided to stop production of the SM, which had minimal sales that year. Although the fuel crisis of 1973 played a role in stopping the production of the SM, it should also be mentioned that competition such as the Mercedes 450SEL 6.0 and the Peugeot 604 played a big role. Although the SM failed, the legend of this car lived on in cars such as the Maserati Merak (engine and transmission) and the Lotus Esprit (transmission), while Nissan had three small cars in the 1970s that were very similar in design to the SM. The highly successful Citroën CX was marketed at a time when the SM was counting its last days and was mechanically breaking up a lot.
This example, acquired in France in 2019, has a perfectly healthy and well maintained engine! Its metal gray color is not its original color which must be brown. Its interior is well preserved and is still original.