The French are very proud of the Citroën SM despite its relative commercial failure. Over its short 6 year production run, only 12 920 units were produced. Its breathtaking design by Robert Opron, with its hydraulic suspension, its Maserati V6 engine by the masterful Giorgio Alfieri, all this came together in one automobile for all to love. If it had not been for the closure of the US market due to new safety and emission standards requiring a rethinking of the vessel, the huge financial losses encountered by the misadventure into the development of the rotary engine (with the Comotor, the M35 and the GS Birotor), and Michelin’s willingness to stop the bleeding and to let go of their awful investment, not to mention the oil embargo of 1973, no doubt the future of the SM might have otherwise been different.
With the acquisition of Citroën by Peugeot in 1974, the SM’s faith was sealed, to the point even of having its production outsourced to Ligier until the end of its run in 1975. The Maserati brand was then relegated unscrupulously to the Italian State. The idea of a range sketched around proposals made by Chapron (the Opera sedan, the Mylord cabriolet) was eventually abandoned in favour of the CX released in 1974, produced in relatively good volumes, and the introduction of the high-end 604, which became the flag-bearer of the new PSA group.
Despite this, the SM has remained in the minds of the French. Not only because of its design but also because of its presence for more than 50 years in the garage of the Elysée Palace where, as a ceremonial car thanks to the two presidential SM commissioned by Georges Pompidou, it continued for decades to embody the 70s. Despite a reputation for technical complexity, the SM is not the monster that many mechanics might have wanted to make us believe. A long time ago it has been « made reliable », and even improved as evidenced by the work of Georges Regembeau on the V6, even gaining in additional horsepower (not to mention the amazing diesel versions prepared by RG).
Plunge into the atmosphere of the 70s as if you were at the original 1970 launch of the Citroën SM thanks to our video report: return to your childhood and who knows, let yourself be tempted by Her Majesty.
(The film is in French but English subtitles are available)