I Saw A Citroën SM In Person For The First Time

I went to London on Friday to see the Motor Expo, which was less substantial than I'd anticipated. But no matter, as my dad directed me to this wonderful Citroën SM he sees regularly, just outside Waterloo Station! Apparently there's normally a DS Safari (wagon) there too, but when I went there it was just the SM. It's the first one I've seen in person!

If you don't know what an SM is, it was conceived after Citroën bought Maserati in the late 1960s, combining the hydropneumatic suspension and front-wheel-drive of the famous DS luxury car with a new 2.7L Maserati V6 and an extremely sleek 2-door coupé body. The clever engine was designed in a hurry, making it unreliable, and the suspension is hugely complex and unusual, but it had a higher top speed than a Porsche 911 and was oh-so smooth for a performance car, also proving that front-wheel-drive has a place in this category. These days a Grand Tourer (Jaguar XK, Maserati GT, Aston Martin DB9, etc.) is essentially just an oversized sports car with small rear seats added in, but Citroën's "Série Maserati" was one designed primarily to be fast and comfortable over long distances, the original definition of a GT. A low drag Cd of 0.26 - roughly that of a new Prius - helped vastly improve fuel economy at high speed.


The SM was on sale from 1970-75 and became popular with the rich and famous for a while for being so stylish. It features speed-sensitive power steering, adjustable ride height, rain-sensitive wipers, self-leveling suspension, optional composite wheels that weighed half as much as steel ones, and swiveling headlights to help you see round corners.

12,920 SMs were made, all in left-hand-drive (although some have been converted to RHD). This one is a 1972/3 car in a typical '70s "gold" hue, but sports a rare [I assume] 5-speed manual gearbox. It looked immaculate and I was slightly surprised by how low it sits. Oleopneumatic suspension for you, I guess.

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