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    On track in SM - sadly not mine... #1973-Citroen-SM / #1973 / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen

    1973 CITROEN SM

    DAVID LILLYWHITE @Drive-My David

    The Caterham has been returned to the factory, now the Academy season is over. The MGB and Saab are reunited in a barn down the road. And the SM is back, awaiting my attentions after BL Autos made such a nice job of realigning the front chassis legs, repairing a previously hidden rust spot further back on the engine bay chassis members, and refitting engine, gearbox, brakes, steering and suspension.

    In case you’ve missed a couple of episodes, I had done all that before the chassis problems were spotted, so I asked BL Autos to strip and rebuild the engine bay. It cost me £1000 but I really couldn’t face doing all that work again.
    Inevitably, my enthusiasm for the project was beginning to wane, roughly in parallel with the emptying of my bank account. But along came SM guru Andrew Brodie with his well-campaigned SM, fresh from a fourth place on the Mini Britannia, to the Drive-My track day at Goodwood, and he let me out to play in it.

    On a wet and shockingly slippery track, the long, heavy Citroen appeared to have no grip at the rear, slipping and sliding this way and that. But as the track began to dry, the SM demonstrated handling and poise worthy of much smaller, sportier cars. It rolled about, the rear wheels skittered; but when it did let go it was easy to catch, and it just flew round the track, prompting smiles, amazement and perhaps just a little fear from other drivers.

    I loved it. Balancing the weight of the big SM on its hydropneumatic suspension was as satisfying (perhaps more so) as driving a more obviously track-orientated car around the fast Goodwood circuit. I went home feeling inspired. It’s SM time again!
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    SM provides sniff of affordability / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen / #1971-Citroen-SM / #1971 / #Citroen-Maserati / #Citroen-Maserati-SM / #Maserati-V6

    There seems to have been a recent easing of Citroën SM values, which has to be excellent news for those of us who still harbour semi-realistic dreams of owning one some day in the future. Classified asking prices have yet to budge, but several have struggled at auction lately on both sides of the Channel.

    Most significant was the #French-registered car recently sold by #Historics-at-Brooklands . Billed as one of the best SM’s available, it looked indecently good in a Flat grey with an even Finish and good panel it, and came with an encouragingly full history folder. Our guide price supported Historics’ £38,000-£44,000 estimate, but the bidding only made it to £34,000 – an amount the seller proved willing to take.

    Keep an eye on these – there are limited numbers of good ones about and it is hard to imagine them ever looking other than futuristic.
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    ‘Assistant editor Keith Adams was tempted but bailed out and suddenly it seemed crazy not to buy it'

    CAR: #1973-Citroen-SM / #1973 / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen /

    CAR: David Lillywhite Editor American beauty?

    I sometimes wonder if we unwittingly try to out-idiot each other on car magazines. I was chatting to another editor recently and he said I've just bought two Jensen Interceptors for £1000'. I was impressed, but was able to counter with I've just bought a Citroen SM project unseen in the States'. From the embarrassed silence around the table, it seemed I'd won. It was all assistant editor Keith Adams' fault. He'd been chatting with SM guru Andrew Brodie about how good it would be for one of the Drive-My team to own an SM. Before we knew it. Andrew had sourced a project car and was metaphorically dangling it in front of us. Keith was tempted but bailed out, the others just smiled politely, and suddenly it seemed crazy not to buy it.

    The car was one of several project SMs owned by classic Citroen specialist land ice racing champion) Dave Burnham in New York state, an old friend of Andrew's. In fact, Andrew had already bought it from Dave for a few thousand dollars, without knowing what he was going to do with it - at least until I agreed to buy it at cost. Admittedly, I'd loudly proclaimed that I was never going to buy another rusty classic ever again, and I had a £15,000 budget to spend on, well, something. It was going to be a 911, but after spending months looking I had to admit that I can't afford a decent pre-1973 and that I don't really like the later cars enough. And there's no room for my increasingly lanky daughter to sit in the back. An SM for £15,000 might be OK or it might need an engine overhaul, new suspension spheres, a transmission rebuild, body repairs... You get the idea. So I've convinced myself that yet another project is the way to get the car I want. The car I've bought has a dented rear wheelarch, scruffy paint, a few patches of light surface rust, but no serious corrosion except in the boot.

    The gearbox is good, the suspension has already been overhauled, the seats are presentable except for a couple of areas of loose stitching and there's nothing missing. The engine runs well - there's a video on the Drive-My website - but to be safe it needs to be stripped and rebuilt, which Andrew has offered to do for a fixed price. He also has a European front end available, to replace the ugly US-spec headlights, and an uncracked dashboard top. The body, minus engine, will go off to the local paintshop who painted the MGB (twice, after its fall from a workshop's ramps). We reckon that the project will cost around £15,000, including shipping from the US. And while it's on the boat I'm going to try and get the MGB finished (the blown engine is being rebuilt) and the historic race kart back together II relented and had the chassis blast-cleaned, and it's now resplendent in sparkling red). An idiotic plan? Maybe.

    Above One scruffy Citroen SM, waiting for shipment to the UK; interior is as wacky as the overall driving experience.
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    An SM shines in Paris, Market indicators

    / #1972-Citroen-SM £100,212 / #1972 / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen /

    Artcurial, Paris, February 9 This was an exceptional result for an SM, even given this was an exceptional example. With only 4000km covered since a €150,000 restoration in 2014 this still looked like a new car, in the stunning colour combo of Orient Blue with blue leather interior. Even then, it raised eyebrows with the bullish upper end of its £53,000- £80,000 estimate, but you can’t argue with this kind of quality. We’ll be watching SMs carefully.
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    Double the work?

    CAR: #1973-Citroen-SM / #1973 / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen

    OWNER: David Lillywhite

    One of the golden rules of restoration has to be not to lose momentum. Of course I’ve broken that rule many, many times over the years, and most recently with the Citron SM.

    It all started well over a year ago when the semi-complete SM had to be dismantled to fix a bent chassis leg and fractured suspension mount that had gone unnoticed. A little bit of enthusiasm died temporarily, a few new projects (a house restoration, Caterham racing, MGB tweaks, the usual nonsense) gained priority, and suddenly the Citroen project had slipped a few months.

    SM super-guru Andrew Brodie and the guys at BL Autos came to the rescue, and we got the rebuilt engine reinstalled and running. I was so proud I even posted a video of the first start-up on YouTube - but that was last spring! Since then, with more house upheaval, an effort to attend even more classic events, and an apparent acceleration of the space-time continuum, I don’t seem to have made much progress over the last few months.

    I think what really stalled me was my attempt to fit the mechanisms of the swivelling and tilting front lights. My car had a fixed-light US-spec front end. Andrew found me a European front end and all the crazy mechanical and hydraulic linkages that go with it. But can I work out how they fit? No I can’t - and that's where I left off.

    Now, of course, I've got several hours of work ahead of me just trying to fathom out what I was up to when I abandoned ship. Why is the steering column binnacle stripped down, when I clearly remember assembling it last year? How far did I get rebinding the engine bay wiring harness? What the hell are all these bits of rubber trim doing everywhere! I feel like I’ve doubled the amount of work needed.

    I know it sounds like a nightmare but actually it’s all part of the fun. I enjoy the total immersion of fiddling around with what was one of the most complicated cars in its day, and the highs of discovering how something bolts together. I love how good the car is beginning to look and the stunned expressions it prompts from friends and neighbours - six-year-old Connor next door has apparently memorised SM specifications. That I’m a full year behind schedule isn’t worth worrying about because this is a hobby, it’s meant to be fun and, when it stops being fun, it’s only sensible to drop it for a while.

    Now, though, it’s time to get back on it, and I’m making a list of what's left to be done. In many ways the car looks much worse than it is, because in less than half-an-hour the wings and bonnet will bolt back into place and it will look complete.

    So, first job is to route the tilting light mechanism control system from the rear suspension, along the passenger side inner sill, to the front end. Then the swivelling lights need to connect to the steering rack, which I’m still confused about, but Andrew has promised to enlighten me.

    The thin alloy outer sills need straightening and repainting and the lower front valance needs to be fitted. At the other end, the repaired stainless steel rear bumper has to be picked up from BL Autos in Welwyn Garden City and refitted.

    The interior is more or less finished but one electric window switch has packed up, and one window motor is a bit slow and needs a rebuild. The refurbished (now complete with iPod connection) original radio needs to go in, while the brand new footwell carpet needs to be unstuck to access the overlooked interior light switch wires, which are currently lost somewhere in the A-pillars.

    In the boot, I need to cut some more carpet, retrim the parcel shelf and somehow remake the rear window interior trim surround.

    And that's it. If I say it quickly, it seems like nothing at all.
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    Spot the difference…

    CAR: #1973-Citroen-SM / #1973 / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen

    OWNER: David Lillywhite

    Progress has been made! I’ve spent several happy evenings in the garage now that temperatures aren’t quite so low (and I’m not feeling quite so lazy), and have moved closer to the point at which we’ll be able to fire up the SM’s Maserati V6 for the first time. When I say ‘we’, I mean myself and friendly guru Andrew Brodie, who has been gently nagging me to get on with things for several weeks now. He’s about to return from holiday, so I’m hoping he’ll be pleasantly surprised, even if the picture below doesn’t look very different from last month’s view.

    I started by cleaning the triple carburettors and bolting them into place, connecting up the linkages and cables. Then it was on to the cooling system, cleaning the hoses, working out how to thread them through the labyrinth of pipes and fittings, and connecting up the repainted radiator. The electrics seem, so far, relatively simple, although I was lucky that BL Autos had kindly wired up the twin Lumenition ignition conversion when the car was in for chassis work. I need to re-bind the engine loom, though.

    The pictures I took on stripdown have bailed me out of a world of pain: just working out how to route the oil cooler hoses, determining which way round a hose fits, and so much more would have been impossible without them. My laptop is looking a bit shabby after all the hours it has spent in the garage, but that’s a small price to pay for access to hundreds of images.
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    Taking stock – and moving forward #1973 / #Citroen-SM David Lillywhite / #Citroen /

    When I was a kid, the Citroën SM was reckoned to be the most complicated car in production. I knew that, and I’m sure that should have stopped me from wanting to restore one. But it didn’t.

    Every now and again, though, I hit panic mode. The bulk of the restoration is now complete, but it’s the detail that takes so much time. Which way a cable routes through the engine bay. Which screw in the bag of 20 that I so conscientiously marked up over a year ago is the right one for a particular fitting. What the hell the smudged label says on the bag of unidentifiable brackets.

    And then there’s the mess I seem to make, and the lack of space in my double garage, especially when at least half of the available space was taken up by parts removed from the car. At least that situation is improving as I refit more bits.

    Anyway, what I’m building up to is that this project was temporarily overwhelming me. A visit from deputy editor Mark Dixon helped; we pushed the car out of the garage to give it a good look over, and I made a full list of all the jobs that need doing.

    Some of the jobs on the list are ridiculous. Fitting the fuel filler flap! And the badges on the C-pillars! They should be easy to cross off the list, and that will make the last stretch a lot less daunting. Others will be tougher to achieve.

    The next big step is still to start the engine, for which I need the expertise of SM man Andrew Brodie. First there’s Octane deadline week to get through, and then I’m hoping I can drag him here to help.

    Meantime, I’m still to finish the engine bay wiring, and then I’m going to concentrate on clearing space in the garage. If I make the final adjustments to the door window frames, then I can fit the interior door trims and handles. If I climb inside the boot to fit the small lever that’s part of the self-levelling headlight mechanism onto the rear suspension then I’ll be able to refit the many sections of boot carpet, which I’ve freshened up with black aerosol paint.

    That leaves the European-spec nosecone, which I need to dismantle, clean up and paint in Citroën Gris Nacré silver, which Autopaint Rochdale (www.autopaintrochdale. com) mixed up for me a while back. I’ll carry on crossing bits off the list...
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    To be rediscovered urgently! Citroën SM Nobility obliges by Vincent Desmonts. Photos Laurent Villaron.
    She had everything for her: sumptuously innovative lines, unparalleled comfort, uncompromising handling and even an engine to the nobility all Italian. And yet, the SM was a bitter failure for Citroën and, beyond, for the high-end French. Regrets eternal...

    At the turn of the 1970s, France had dreams of grandeur. The laborious reconstruction is coming to an end, and the country is resolutely moving towards a radiant future where technology will triumph. Two dates particularly symbolize this conquering optimism: on 2 March 1969, the supersonic Concorde made its first flight to Toulouse; On 11 March 1970, the Citroën SM was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

    In the air and on earth, the domination of engineering tricolor is total. The Concorde as the SM represents a sort of absolute summit of sophistication and push the limits of physics, the first carrying a hundred passengers to Mach 2, the second combining absolute comfort and total road efficiency. Technological perfections, stinging commercial failures. Greatness and decadence. In the absence of being able to take the orders of the late Concorde, let us install ourselves at the wheel of the "Concorde of the road"!

    The car, which is kindly lent to me by Jean-Marc, is an injection model of 1972, one of the first of its kind, the SM initially benefited from a feeding by three carburettors Weber body notoriously complex to regulate. For Jean-Marc, this car has a special flavour: "My father was a great fan of Citroën, he had almost all models ... except the SM! At the time, with two big teenagers and a dog, it was not really the ideal car, so he preferred a CX. "The" citroenism "being a contagious disease, the son will inherit the virus of his papa ... and will eventually acquire the SM that was missing in the dynasty! "I bought it twenty-six years ago. My father thought it was a funny idea to choose this old thing, that I should have taken a youngster's case, like a Peugeot 309 GTI! But I wanted to give him this pleasure. It was my first old car. Jean-Marc immediately attacked a complete renovation project to restore the car in perfect condition. Much more recently, engine and box have been reconditioned. Now, the beautiful starts in a quarter turn, hot and cold. A real beast of burden!


    Should we return to the emblematic lines of the SM? Everything in it fascinates, starting with its proportions: interminable hood, remote cockpit, truncated rear, uneven tracks. And then there are, of course, a host of details that are not to be found anywhere else, as this ramp of headlights (those in the center rotate at the same time as the steering wheel) under a canopy, registration. Or this air intake on the hood, adorned with rafters. Or these very low tail lights and connected by an orange headband ...

    She deserves her surname

    This Citroen leaves no one indifferent: we adore it, we hate it ... or change. Younger, I was baffled by this atypical physique. Today, I am admiring. Incredibly modern in 1970, it remains fascinating almost half a century later. The cockpit is a concentrate of the time, with its curved seats (totally devoid of lateral support!), Steering wheel and oval counters, or its many touches of chrome.

    Behind this apparent frivolity hides a rather rigorous conception. The ergonomics are particularly elaborate, with a driver's seat with multiple adjustments and a steering wheel adjustable in height and depth, a refinement very rare at the time. So the driving position is excellent. There are however some false notes, like the instrumentation little readable, or the famous car radio installed ... between the seats.

    But do not complain too much: the air conditioning was (already) standard! Our trial takes place in the beautiful region of the French Vexin, hilly, wooded and game. A small paradise for lovers of nature, but a real torture for cars seen the state of dilapidation of the secondary network. But the SM has it magical that it seems to hover over the road. Holes, bumps, speed bumps and other nest-drops are literally rubbed out. It is no longer a car, it is an iron! More surprising, despite its balloon tires and its fascinating softness, the SM does not "lay" at the first turn: its hydropneumatic suspensions also act as an anti-roll, so that the lack of maintenance of the seats is no longer really a problem ... at least for the driver.

    In general, beyond her comfort, the SM amply deserves her surname of "Her Majesty". Its track record is

    Incredibly serene, its wide front lanes ensure a great stability in curve and its road behaviour is still perfectly current. Even braking has not (too) aged ... once you get used to this tiny mushroom it is better to brush than to sink. So imagine in 1970! What car could have held such a high pace, so long, in the hands of just about any driver?

    It's simple: none. It is not I who said it, it is José Rosinski, obviously very impressed by the SM Injection during his test for Sport Auto in 1972 (see previous page)! It is necessary to make an aside about the direction, the famous Diravi which caused a lot of ink to flow. This "reminding direction" was the first to offer variable speed-dependent assistance. The system used the hydraulic system pressure and a centrifugal governor connected to the output shaft of the gearbox to adjust the assistance in terms of the appearance: very gentle manoeuvres, firmer highway. On paper, it's great. In fact, it's ... disturbing! The Diravi filters all the sensations that could rise from the front axle, leaving only the centering force, which remains active at all speeds.

    Practical when maneuvers, where it is enough to release the steering wheel so that it returns to the point zero. More disturbing on the road, where the recall is too marked in the great curves. And in the tightest corners, it's the ultimate acceleration (only two turns from stop to stop) that surprises: one tends to overbrack! Some will see intolerable defects, others, simple peculiarities which are just the attraction and originality of the SM.


    What about the block? It is of course a #Maserati-V6 , designed by Giulio Alfieri from an 8-cylinder, which explains its opening at 90° and its idle an irregular strand. But this 2.7-liter engine is quite modern for its time, with a block and alloy cylinder heads (but cast iron liners), four camshafts head and two valves per cylinder. It is lightweight (140 kg) and of remarkable compactness, so that it has been possible to install it very backwards with respect to the front axle for a better distribution of the masses. It offers performances which were certainly not extraordinary, but which are still very correct today. José Rosinski clocked the SM at 30.5 s on the stopped start kilometer, the excellent aerodynamics allowing a maximum speed of more than 220 kmh.

    In terms of character, the Maserati V6 is distinguished more by its roundness than by its sound, finally quite enough. The 5-speed gearbox (installed in front of the engine), with the control well guided, is a pleasure to handle. The commercial failure of DM, which has many reasons, has been widely discussed. First, Citroën dealers were reluctant to take over the costly Porsche or Mercedes from the wealthy clientele attracted by the SM. Then the incredible technical complexity of this auto disarmed the mechanics. As for its high consumption (20 litres - 100 km according to Jean-Marc!), It could no longer fall badly, in full oil shock. Finally, if the American market first welcomed DM, absorbing one third of production, a sudden change in regulation will ban purely and simply hydropneumatic suspension cars. In 1975, Michelin sold Citroën to Peugeot, which quickly disposed of #Maserati (sold to de Tomaso). Sacrificed on the altar of industrial rationalization, the SM will preserve forever a taste of lost paradise.

    True, the Citroen SM is full of defects. Its rear seats are symbolic, its chest is monopolized by the enormous spare wheel, its engine lacked character and its direction has what to baffle the most impassive driver. But his ability to swallow the miles at great speed, serenely and in a princely comfort fascinates forty-seven years after his appearance. She has cast a spell on me: I am in love!

    Technical data #Citroen-SM / #Citroen / #Citroen-SM-2.7IE / #Citroen-SM-ie / #1972

    Engine 6-cylinder #V6 at 90°
    Cylinder capacity 2670cc
    Distribution 4 overhead camshafts, 12-valve
    Maximum power 178bhp at 5500 rpm DIN
    Maximum torque 232 Nm at 4000 rpm DIN
    Power supply #Bosch electronic fuel injection
    Transmission Manual transmission, 5-speed
    Suspension front / rear Independent wheels, Hydropneumatic spheres
    Brakes 4-disc front / rear
    Wheels Front / Rear tires 205 VR 15
    Dimensions 4.89 x 1.84 x 1.32 m
    Weight 1490 kg
    Tank 90 liters
    Price in France 1972 58,200F
    Price EU 2017 18,000 € approximately
    Performance Max speed: 228 kph / 0-62 MPH (0 to 100 kph) 8.9 s
    Fuel consumption average / 29MPG / 11.2 litres 100 km
    THE OPINION OF ... VINCENT DESMONT What Sport Sport said ... August 1972


    Driving a SM remains a source of wonder. It is not that it is perfect, of course, but it retains in some respects - not least - such an advance on everything that is being constructed at present, it demonstrates such a personality, and it dispenses Such satisfactions that it continues to stand quite apart. Undoubtedly, for road use made long journeys, it is difficult to find a competitor in terms of performance-comfort-safety synthesis. Certainly there are cars that are brighter, more manageable, more amusing, but, it seems to us, none that can surpass the SM in the set of qualities that it offers. Criticism, we have always to oppose it: the ratio of external bulkiness / habitability is ridiculous, the visibility towards the front is mediocre, the braking control ensured by the absurd DS type button lack of progressivity, the accelerations are far from The capacity of the luggage compartment is devoured by the voluminous spare wheel which throne there... But, in the end, all this does not count in front of the extraordinary balance of efficiency of road that reaches the SM thanks to Its exceptional steering with progressive assistance and its unparalleled suspension, serving excellent mechanics. It is necessary to have conducted a SM on a secondary national in mediocre state to realize the absolutely astounding level that this efficiency achieves.



    "Like the Concorde, SM represents a sort of absolute summit of sophistication"


    One of the distinguishing features of the SM style is the ventilation grille hitting the rafters on the hood.
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