Affordable Exotica: 1972 Citroen SM

The Citroen SM has become quite popular among collectors of exotics and fans of French automobiles alike, which has priced them out of reach for many hobbyists. Despite their superior driving dynamics, complex equipment and a propensity for rust make them projects only for the truly committed, but when they’re downright affordable like this example here on craigslist, it begins to make sense for enthusiasts of every stripe and budget. 

The body appears relatively straight, and the seller doesn’t hide the fact that there are several areas where surface rust is bubbling through. You can see the rear quarters have suffered from both paint scrapes and the occasional dent, but glass and chrome still seem presentable. Not seen here but also mentioned is that the sunroof panel is hiding some rust as well.

The interior does seem quite tired; perhaps the one downside to this being a California car since new. The aforementioned sunroof is claimed to be a rare aftermarket conversion performed by ASC; water leaks seem likely yet aren’t mentioned, but the pictures show a ominous sign pointing otherwise: the carpet has been removed. Given the panel is both aftermarket and rusty, it seems likely some water intrusion may have occurred. 

The familiar US-spec nose with the ensconced round headlights isn’t the prettiest face you’ll ever see, but it is different. The engine is said to have been open “for some time” due to a previous owner tearing down the motor once a cracked cylinder liner was discovered. The road to recovery is a long one, but if you were to negotiate the price downwards ever so slightly, this could be an entryway to exotic classic ownership without the immediately steep price tag; however, once restoration commences, the cost will be all the same.

Fast Finds


  1. JYA!

    The hydraulic lift/lower system would also be an area of concern. The Rolling Stones bass player collected these, but he probably could afford the repair work on them.

  2. Sam

    I remember seeing one these on the used car lot at the local Buick dealer in the late 70’s…thought it was the coolest car.

    Can anyone say Burt Reynolds/Longest Yard….gave it a Viking funeral.

  3. Steve

    One of these was featured on a recent episode of “My Classic Car”. If I remember correctly, these cars featured an engine manufactured by Maserati. While it seems to be a “cool” car, i would be hesitant to tackle something so complex as adjustable height suspension and a non operational Maserati engine. It seems these cars would require rock star sized income for restoration or upkeep…

    • drake

      Minimum 10k to redo the engine maybe higher. The Pneumatic system needs totally replaced,say up to 8k,body work/paint easy 10-15k,interior say 6-8k and probably higher, the ride on the car is amazing when correct,like riding on a cloud, the Maserati engine is a delight,the real problem is the complexity of all these systems working together.

  4. Mark

    Looks like a very heavy car, what engine inside , looks like fwd too but too old I think.

  5. Mvm

    #Maserati engine ?

  6. Larry Brantingham

    @Mvm Yes, it’s type C114 and it’s the reason Citroen bought Maserati. They needed a more powerful, prestige engine for this car, so Giulio Alfieri produced this four cam 2.7L V6. An enlarged version was later used in the Maserati Merak. Too bad this car is an automatic.

  7. Cj

    I have a complete dealer marketing kit for an SM I would be happy to sell for a reasonable price.

    • HeadMaster1

      Cj, what’s reasonable?

  8. Cj

    I’ve got one complete in good condition for $50 and a partial in fair condition for $25. Both include color brochures.

  9. Joe Muzy

    I never owned a Citroën but wondering if they are as expensive as a Mercedes to maintain or service?

    • drake

      should be the Maserati 4.7

  10. Old Car Guy

    More so.

  11. Greg Member

    When I was a kid in the 70’s, my dream car was a MB 300SL gullwing, and my best friends was this Citroen SM. It does have a Maserati engine, and top of the line features. But it would cost a fortune to restore this one! Interesting cars though.

  12. jackthemailman

    “Surface rust” bubbling through? Man, that’s body rot, not surface rust.

  13. Rex Kahrs Member

    How to become a millionaire…start with 2 million and a Citroen SM!

  14. John T

    1972 US model with automatic transmission – the least desirable of all SMs. The transmission is a BW type 35 transaxle manufactured by Citroen under license from Borg Warner. The gearing was set so low that it shifted out of first gear at 5 mph unless you had your foot to the floor. The engine screamed at highway speeds. In 1973 they got the gearing for the automatics right, but then got the stall speed for the converter set too low. I have restored several of these cars. Figure minimums of $15,000 to rebuild the engine, $5,000 plus shipping to Kentucky to rebuild the automatic transmission, $8,000 to have the interior redone and $10,000 for paint. You will be under water in no time.

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