The Details

Citroen SM

£42,495

A00001

Specification

  • Mileage: 73,873
  • Year: 1971
  • MOT Expiry: Exempt
  • Exterior Colour: Platinum Blue Metallic
  • Interior Colour: Black Leather
  • Top speed: 135
  • 0-60mph: 8.9
  • BHP: 168
  • Transmission: 5-Speed Manual
  • Engine Capacity: 2670cc
  • Engine Configuration: Maserati V6

Model History

The Citroën SM was launched in 1970 as a direct result of the marriage of Citroën and Maserati. This took place in 1968 and in two short years the SM had been created, which was quite a feat in the days before computer aided design or manufacture. The body styling was classic idiosyncratic Citroën, and under the bonnet lay a 2.7-litre V6 that Maserati designed especially for the car. No existing Maserati engine could be used because it would have fallen foul of France’s excessive taxes.

The SM featured numerous technological innovations, many based around its central hydraulic system. These include self-levelling suspension and headlamps, rain-sensitive wipers, fierce in-board brakes, and DIRAVI steering; the latter is a self-centering system with speed-sensitive assistance. With two turns lock-to-lock it is a precise system after a little practice.

When the SM was launched is was not a success. There was an initial problem with the engine chain tensioning system, which could cause spectacular issues. In most cases the problems were exacerbated by over revving the engine when it was cold. Being similarly priced to a Porsche 911 (and a semi-detached house) also didn’t help! Unfortunately the onset of the Oil Crisis shortly after its launch only speeded the car’s demise, and in 1975 production halted after just 13,290 examples had been produced.

Despite the limited production run SMs were popular with the rich and famous. The late, great Mike Hailwood drove his SM to every European GP when he raced for John Surtees; he thought it the finest Gran Turismo available at that time. Leonid Brezhnev, Johan Cruyff, Bill Wyman, and author Graham Greene were converts, along with Idi Amin who actually owned two.

Just 237 SMs were sold new in the UK, this example being one of the very first imported.

Equipment

Leather upholstery, Five-speed manual transmission, Self-leveling hydro-pneumatic suspension, Power-assisted and speed-sensitive steering, Dual circuit four-wheel disc brakes, Self-leveling headlamps, Directional headlamps, Rain-sensitive wipers, Electric windows, Radio, Height adjustable front seats, Front head restraints, Front seat belts, Rear armrest, Spare wheel, Spare headlamp covers, Indoor car cover, Spare key.

Exterior

The SM’s charismatic body styling looks particularly striking in its original colour of Bleu Platine. The paintwork presents to a great standard all round with a lovely shine to every panel. On close inspection there are a handful of minor blemishes to report, but nothing unexpected for the vintage. All the brightwork is original and for the most part remains in excellent condition. The delicate glass headlamp covers are showing no signs of age – although spares are included with the sale – and irreplaceable features like the rear reflector panel are undamaged. Early ‘carburettor’ examples such as this can be easily distinguished from the later fuel-injection cars by the stylised SM badge on the rear pillar.

Interior

The cabin is wonderfully Seventies in its design while also boasting modern comforts such as power-assisted steering, electric windows, air conditioning, and height-adjustable front seats. Period features like the single-spoke steering wheel and gold embellishment really add to the sense of occasion, and all the switchgear still operates just as it should. Looking closer, the original leather upholstery retains a nice level of patina, perfectly in keeping with the age. The headlining is also in excellent original condition and the carpets throughout appear as new having been professionally replaced in 2017; various other trim pieces around the windows etc. were skillfully re-covered at the same time.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Powered by a Maserati V6 unique to the model, the SM was one of the fastest front-wheel drive cars of its day, with a top speed in excess of 137mph. The 2.7-litre powerplant sports dual overhead camshafts, cross-flow cylinder heads with hemispherical combustion chambers, and a trio of two-throat Weber carburettors.

With an intricate mix of French and Italian engineering, the engine bay of this example presents well without appearing overly dressed. The car has always been in general service throughout its life and has been maintained accordingly. A full engine rebuild was carried out nine thousand miles ago; the work was undertaken by the late Andrew Brodie, a leading expert on the SM and its engine. The V6 was suitably uprated with ‘solid’ valves, new chains and the latest style of tensioning system - the original tensioning system and sodium-filled valves are known weaknesses for the SM.

WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES

The 15-inch steel wheels are shod in a matching set of original tread pattern Michelin 195/70 XWX tyres, which were developed specifically for the SM. Some age-related wear is visible but there is plenty of tread remaining. The wheels are finished with the correct stainless steel covers that present in excellent original condition.

History File

In Citroën’s centenary year this is an ideal opportunity to acquire the marque’s only true Grand Tourer and a vehicle with an interesting history in the UK. This example was built in March 1971 and was first registered in the UK on 6th August that year. The vehicle was part of Citroën UK’s own fleet of cars, which explains the French specification of yellow headlamps, the streamlined wing mirror and km speedo. It may also explain how this car – APP 664K – found its way into the popular Seventies television show, The Protectors. The car featured in a number of episodes and was driven by Nyree Dawn Porter’s character Contessa di Contini. In reality, Nyree couldn’t get to grips with the car and so all the driving shots were actually driven by Citroën UK’s Graham Rafael wearing a wig.

After its television success Citroën sold the car and it quickly acquired a personal plate under its new owner, who went on to keep the SM for over twenty-five years. In 1998 it passed to the current owner who duly registered it with the Citroën Car Club. Included in the documentation was a single tax disc with the original registration number APP 664K. The club soon realised that this was indeed ‘The Protectors’ car that had been missing all those years.

Under its current ownership of over twenty years the car has seen regular use and maintenance. At 64k miles a precautionary engine rebuild was carried out. The work was conducted by a leading SM expert who ensured that certain ‘problem’ parts commonly prone to failure were not only replaced but also upgraded, thus prolonging the life of the engine and preventing against future issues. Since that time the car has driven just 9k miles, remaining carefully stored in when not in use.


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