CITROEN’S high performance coupé, the SM, is celebrating its 40th birthday.
The luxury sports tourer, an alliance between Citroën and Maserati, was first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on March 11, 1970 – 40 years ago.
Technically innovative, with a dynamic, yet supremely comfortable ride experience, the Citroën SM was highly regarded for its futuristic styling, prestigious quality, ‘magic-carpet’ suspension and outstanding performance – a unique combination of characteristics not available in any other car at the time.
Officially recognised as a truly exceptional vehicle in the early 1970’s, the SM placed third in the European Car of the Year Awards in 1971 – the winner was Citroën’s GS. The SM also received the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award in the US in 1972.
Powered by a Maserati V6 engine, the SM was one of the fastest front-wheel drive cars of its day, with a top speed in excess of 220km/h (137mph). A competitive performer in motorsport, the SM won its first race at the Morocco Rally in 1971.
Pioneering innovative technology, the SM introduced a new type of variable assist power-steering, which made it easier to manoeuvre at lower speeds and provided greater resistance at higher speeds for improved control and handling.
The car also featured hydro-pneumatic suspension with automatic height correction and six headlamps with automatic levelling. Four power-assisted disc brakes, with independent front and rear circuits, automatically adjusted brake power according to vehicle load and weight distribution.
Renowned SM owners have included US comedian Jay Leno, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, author Graham Greene and actor Lee Majors. French Presidents from Georges Pompidou to Jacques Chirac used two specially modified 4-door convertible ‘présidentielle’ models, created by coach builder Henri Chapron.