The dramatic and futuristic Citroen SM was a revolutionary car and its recent anniversary is a significant milestone.
France has always had a history of producing strange, quirky little cars that were loved by its people. More than a few times, those cars changed the auto industry. Citroen cars like the Traction Avante, the 2CV, and the Citroen DS changed the way cars were made. When the DS was unveiled in 1955 it was like a spaceship. 743 cars were sold in the first 15 minutes and 12,000 by the end of the first day.
The car chosen to replace the legendary DS was the Citroen SM. Fast and refined with excellent handling, the SM was a Grand Tourer with arguably the best ride in automotive history, thanks to its hydophneumatic self-leveling suspension. The car came with a smaller V-six version of Maserati’s long-lived quad-cam V-eight engine, front wheel drive, and several unusual features. These included six headlights, two of which swiveled with the steering, self centering and fully powered steering that got tighter as the car went faster, rain sensitive wipers, a cool selector switch on the driver’s side rail that allowed you to raise or lower the suspension, and a rubber button on the floor in lieu of a brake pedal.
Many different versions were made, including a lovely convertible called the Mylord which was designed by the great Henri Chapron of coachbuilding fame. In addition, Chapron also designed an open 4-door limousine called the SM présidentielle, which was used by French Presidents and heads of state. Many celebrities owned SM’s, including Idi Amin, The Shah of Iran, Leonid Brezhnev, John Williams, Charlie Watts, Jay Leno and Carlos Santana.
The Citroen SM was the fastest front-wheel drive car made at the time and in the 70’s it looked futuristic. When lowered, the lines of the car hid the rear wheels and tapered back to make the car look like a boat. This was a “personal” coupe in the same spirit as a 1970 Cadillac Eldorado, but the SM retains its good looks even today. It is one of my personal favorites, as are all Citroens. Quirky and strange can also be very cool.
Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond