Citroen’s stellar SM may have been the last French “grand routier”, conceived and built in the same vein as Delage, Delahaye, and certain Buagttis. It deftly combined suave French suspension, otherworldly styling, and a snarling Italian motor. What could go wrong?
A lot, if you had to wrench on the green-blooded bastard. But with the benefit of hindsight, all of the car’s mechanical issues seem small beer. Damn thing still looks bang up to date in spite of having been introduced during the Nixon administration. Robert Opron knew what he was doing! The SM (Serie Maserati) cost a mint back in the day. Not many punters took the plunge and in the entire 5-year production run they managed to shift all of 12,920 units (according to the infallible Wikipedia). Toyota could lose that many Camrys in an hour and not miss them!
Unsurprisingly a combination of low initial production figures and mechanical volatility means that there aren’t too many SM’s about in 2017. Imagine then my surprise whilst dropping off some scrap at a local recycling center to see the remains of an SM sitting amongst the detritus ready to be crushed. It was resting on its belly sans wheels, looking like the decimated carcass of a Thanksgiving turkey. Even in the indignity of its current state the car hadn’t lost the otherworldly aura of its youth.
Being harder to come by than a virgin at a hooker convention means that even the shell of an SM is too rare to crush. I posted pictures in Citroen’s of Cascadia as well as Malaise Motors and a Citroen specialist took notice.
I was able to put them in touch with the wrecking yard where the car sat on the precipice of being turned into security doors or worse. They were on it like you wouldn’t believe and before you could say “traction avant” they had their trailer in Clovis California and hauled away the car for scrap price.
Of course, this particular Citroen SM was well beyond being restored. It had no engine, no interior, and no back glass. But those remaining panels and trim bits are the purest gold to someone wishing to resurrect a more complete car or repair theirs after a shunt. The moral of the story here is, the treasures you’re seeking can reveal themselves in the unlikeliest of places, so by all means, keep searching. Perhaps more importantly, you may well find that rare something that will keep a cherished car on the road for future generations of gearheads to enjoy.