Citroën had long plotted a genuine flagship model mixing the DS’s hightech logic with two extra facets: performance and prestige. Therefore, the opportunity to buy Italy’s Maserati in 1968 proved ideal for adding supercar experience to Citroën’s renowned design ideals.
Citroën SM 1970
- YEAR REVEALED 1970
- PLACE OF ORIGIN Paris, France, and Modena, Italy
- HISTORICAL STATUS production car
- ENGINE V6-cylinder, 163–181ci (2,670–2,974cc)
- MAXIMUM POWER 180bhp
- LAYOUT front-mounted engine driving the front wheels
- BODYWORK two-door, four-seater sedan
- TOP SPEED 142mph (229kph)
- NUMBER BUILT 12,920
The result, in 1970, was the fabulous Citroën SM, a stunning combination of French ingenuity and Italian panache. At its heart was a tidy 90 degree V6 Maserati engine, derived from the marque’s V8. At 163ci (2,670cc), it put the car just inside the acceptable bracket for taxation in France. Unlike a Maserati, however, the SM was front-wheel drive, with the transmission and driveshafts mounted ahead of the set-back engine.
This superb weight distribution promoted stable road manners, but Citroën’s hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension, plus four-wheel disc brakes, were excellent features, too. The headlamps could swivel with the self-centring, power steering, allowing an SM to “see around corners.” But the body design topped that. With a frontal glass fairing and aircraft-grade aluminum hood, the SM tapered to a sleek finish with a glass tailgate.
The huge windshield and sheathed rear wheels had a space-age aura. The cabin brimmed with futuristic touches, such as oval dials and a single-spoke steering wheel. The seats, with broad, sculptural rolls, looked amazing despite being unsupportive. But sadly, the 1973 global fuel crisis meant demand for 18mpg (6.4km/l) cars evaporated overnight.