Although a French manufacturer, Citroen acquired a controlling interest in the Italian sportscar manufacturer Maserati in the late 1960s. As a result of this acquisition the Citroen SM, introduced in 1970, was derived from the best features of both brands. The SM was a prestige car using a small V6 engine adapted from Maserati’s quad-cam V8 engine.
Because of French tax laws which punished cars with a capacity above 2.8 litres, the capacity of the SM engine was kept at 2.7 litres.
Citroen has always been noted for its innovative design and features and the SM was no exception. Like the earlier model DS, the SM had front-wheel drive and also carbon fibre sports wheels. The gearbox/transaxle at unit was mounted ahead of the compact engine which developed 127kW.
Both five-speed manual and three-speed automatic transmissions were offered. The five-speed manual SM had a top speed of 225 km/h although its weight restricted fast acceleration times. Also, Citroen’s well tried and tested hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension interconnected with the four-wheel disc brakes and power steering was used.
The SM had a stunning profile which was extremely aerodynamic and reminiscent of the DS model. It was a four seater built as a practical hatchback. Inside the large sweeping dashboard was as futuristic as the body and it was steered by a single spoke steering wheel. Unfussed high-speed cruising was the car’s greatest strength.
Like the DS, the SM offered an extremely comfortable ride and, being a long distance GT model, proved superbly stable at high speed. It did however suffer in the fuel consumption department which had a strong impact on sales. In an effort to overcome this Citroen improved the car with the addition of fuel injection and a bigger 3.0-litre version, but by 1970 sales dropped to the point where the model was discontinued. In all, just short of 13,000 SMs were produced.