1972 Citroen SM ($74,500)
Written by Andrew Golseth
1972 Citroen SM
- Location: Emeryville, CA
- Chassis #: 005B9860
- Engine: 2.7-liter six-cylinder
- Mileage: 97,489
- Transmission: Five-speed manual
- Color: Black / Black leather
The Best of France and Italy
An orchestra is the work of consummate skill. With so many intricate inputs played from individual bodies, conquering a masterpiece is a tedious process of complete harmonious unity. As if normal automobiles weren’t complex enough, setting out to deliberately build a vehicle stuffed with unorthodox technological complexities requires a talented mechanical maestro. Luckily for us, the French madmen of Citroen were able to compose the ultimate flagship GT, known simply as: the SM.
By the time Citroen debuted the SM at the Geneva Auto Show in 1970, the French marque had been mastering unconventional vehicle technology for decades. With the Traction Avant, 2CV, DS, and other models pocketed in their portfolio, Citroen had already proven to be innovated motoring pioneers. By packing the SM with more ingenuity than any Citroen before it, or any vehicle produced for that matter, it’s no wonder the model is still revered today.
The SM was essentially meant to be a Grand Touring version of the four door DS while doubling as a platform for Citroen’s newest advancements. Penned by Citroen’s own head of design, Robert Opron, the overall profile closely mirrors the DS’s teardrop canopy with quarter panels covering the rear wheels, but features a Kamm tail assisting in a drag coefficient of just .26—compare that to, say, the Ferrari 458 Italia’s .33 rating. Love it or hate it, the design is as fresh and striking as it was when new.
Like the DS, the SM suspension offered cloud-like comfort thanks to its hydropneumatic (oleo pneumatic) independent fully adjustable self-leveling suspension. The euro-spec SM headlights self-plane in relation to the desired ride height and also swivel in accordance to steering input.
The SM was an early mass-produced vehicle to offer four-wheel disc brakes. To reduce unsprung mass, the front disc brakes were mounted inboard and cooled by integrated underbody air channels. One of the more intriguing mechanical characteristics is the automated hydraulic pressure bias brake system that self-adjusts to cabin weight distribution to ensure the car doesn’t bow under braking, keeping the car level while stopping—all orchestrated through a highly sensitive brake bulb in place of a traditional pedal. The SM also introduced variable assist power steering with only two turns lock-to-lock—like the brakes, steering input is a delicate operation.
A timeless automobile of mid-to-late century design, the Citroen SM continues to be a prime example of function blended with form. Hosting a number of mechanical and technological breakthroughs, the SM is the past’s fantasized prediction of the future’s automobile—though, in many ways, it seems modern vehicles still can’t match the SM.
Having acquired Maserati in 1968, Citroen put in an order to the Italian engineers for an appropriate powertrain for the all-around groundbreaking SM—they did not disappoint. Tucked far behind the front axles is an aluminum 2.7-liter 90-degree six-cylinder engine that produces a moderate, but adequate, 170 horsepower—enough for a 140 mph top speed. Fitted with a stainless steel constructed exhaust system, the SM carols a quiet but sophisticated Italian exhaust note. The transmission is mounted in front of the engine and was offered in a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic.
This beautiful black on black 1972 Citroen SM is a polished design score. The SM is a complicated machine and aging technology tends to require maintenance from specialists with honed knowhow. Finding a properly maintained vehicle of such automotive grandeur isn’t easy nor does it come inexpensively. Which is why this example warrants piece of mind for interested parties thanks to a recent no-expense spared servicing.
- High quality non-metallic paint retains deep shine
- Original brightwork in very good condition
- Headlamp covers are in pristine condition
- All green house glass have correct etching
- Minor paint imperfections from mild use
- Select trim pieces showing slight wear
- Bumpers have light swirl etching
- Taut original headliner
- Tear free leather seats and door cards
- Carpets and floor mats appear stain and fade free
- Single spoke steering wheel rewrapped in matching leather
- Crack free original dashboard with fully functional instrumentation
- Light creases on front seat covers
- Trunk carpeting shows slight discoloration
- Floor mats show little aging
- Retains original 2.7-liter V6 and 5-speed manual transmission
- Recently underwent a no-expense spared maintenance regiment totaling $27,000
- None stated/known
- Engine compartment isn’t restored but rather original and upkept
How does it drive?
Overall, the experience of driving the SM is very unique and engaging when all components are considered: a unique suspension, Maserati motor, and a 5-speed gearbox gets you a really intriguing drive.
Engine: The motor starts right up, idles well, and it’s well tuned. The Maserati exhaust note is excellent!
Shifting: Shifting is pleasurable since the transmission shifts extremely well, with perfect synchromesh and smooth action.
Suspension: The adjustable suspension is responds immediately and adjusts to all heights including “on the deck” to “Paris Dakar”.
Braking: The brakes take some getting used to and initially seem touchy initially like most period Citroens, but are very effective and work correctly.
Handling: The steering is very responsive with exactly two turns lock to lock combined with the suspension provides for a very sooth ride.
The car completed a multi-day road trip from SM World to Fantasy Junction just before being listed for sale, proving its mechanicals are in top condition.
An original U.S. market spec model, this SM was equipped with the much desired Cibié glass headlamp and front license plate covers—a tasteful, arguably required, modification to the USDM models.
- Includes non-original, but desirable Cibié glass headlamp and front license plate covers from Euro models
- Resprayed in factory non-metallic
- All original interior except for rewrapped leather steering wheel
- Original motor
The previous owner carried out a complete cosmetic restoration of the highest standard, which has held up exceptionally. Experts in the Citroen craft, SM World of Los Angeles was hired to carry out a thorough overhaul that totaled $27,000 in order to ensure every aspect of this SM is fully operational.
The SM World tune-up included the following:
- Replace water pump seal and cover o-ring, resurface impeller
- Replace thermostat
- Replace throttle cable
- Replace water manifold gaskets
- Replace radiator cap
- Replace spark plugs and adjust carburetors
- Service and adjust distributor
- Inspect timing chains
- Change engine oil and filter
- Check compression: All Six cylinders between 110-130lbs.
- Replace fuel filter
- Test alternator output
- Replace select hydraulic lines
- Replace clutch slave cylinder
- Change transmission oil
- Adjust shift cables
- Service wipers and motors, replace wiper rheostat
- Re-torque driveshaft nuts
- Rebuilt hydraulic pump
- Test Brake accumulator
- Replace right rear suspension boot
- Replace left and right front suspension boots
- Recharge all four suspension spheres
- Adjust steering linkage
- Adjust toe-in and center steering centering valve
- Replace A/C radiator fan relay and fan speed sensor
- Replace A/C hoses and Charge A/C
- Replace right rear tail light housing
- Replace left and right rear radio speakers
- Troubleshoot and correct wiring harness
- Service electric windows
- Replace voltage regulator
- Install new seatbelts
- All invoices from the recent work at SM World are available
Esoteric: The individual design cues are unusual but amount to a stunning shape and iconic shape.
Feel like a million bucks: Maserati motor, Citroen design – just an ultra tasteful combination. You’ll be cooler, we promise.
If you’re searching for an SM that carries a good bill of health and in preserved highly original conditional that you won’t feel guilty about logging wheel time in, this car deserves your consideration.
Meet The Seller
This car is for sale by Bruce and Spencer Trenery at Fantasy Junction. You can learn more about them here.