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Barn Find 5-Speed: 1972 Citroen SM

The Citroen SM is a wild and wonderful combination of design and features that few cars have matched since. With numerous engineering accomplishments and a lovely Maserati-derived 2.7L engine under the hood, it offers a list of achievements that makes it seem like a rolling science project. Today. they are sought after by collectors but also very risky cars to purchase in project-grade form, yet the seller of this claimed barn find 1972 Citroen SM says he has worked out the bugs and turned it into a driver. The SM is listed here on eBay with the preferred manual transmission gearbox and offered with no reserve under a starting bid of $6,000.

From its hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension to its clever DIRAVI steering system, the SM was loaded with equipment that yielded unheard of ride and steering qualities,. not to mention very respectable handling capabilities right out of the box. The braking system utilizes four-wheel discs with inboard front brakes. Though this feature didn’t make it to the U.S., even the headlights were packed with whiz-bang gadgetry, swiveling as the car turned to ensure the lights were always pointed the direction the car was going on (of course, the U.S. didn’t allow this feature to come stateside, since we apparently take issues with European lighting systems for sport.) As you can see, the paint and rear bumper will require some love.

Inside, your comfort was practically guaranteed between the ridiculously comfortable seats and the outstanding ride quality afforded by the pneumatic suspension. The Mint Green paint looks sharp against the black interior, but my favorite feature is the manual gearbox. While a lot of SMs did come with three pedals, they still strike me as an elusive car to find. The combination of a stick with a free-revving Maserati engine is a winning combination no matter the vehicle it comes in, but the fact that such a drivetrain was found in a wonky car like the SM just makes me love it even more. The interior is in fair shape but will obviously require some restoration work to ensure seat foam doesn’t get stuck to your clothes.

The engine kicked out a respectable 170 horsepower and could nip at 140 miles per hour with enough open road. The seller claims this SM runs and drives and that all hydraulics work as they should, so it sounds like a car you can use like a driver while the rest of the necessary mechanical re-commissioning work is carried out. As a California and Arizona car since new, rust appears to be a non-issue, so perhaps the seller isn’t kidding when hs says this will be a “straightforward restoration.” To be fair, nothing is straightforward about an SM. but starting with a non-rusty runner is the right play if you’re looking for a project.


  1. Avatar photo dlc

    OH, my goodness gracious.

    Like 5
  2. Avatar photo Derek

    Quick! Replace the valves before they break…

    Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Gavin Elster

    Use to see Dinah Shore driving one in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, an upgrade over her GM gratis 50’s “See The USA In Your Chevrolet.” Or…….was it? Rare, expensive, complicated and difficult to maintain and service even when new. How many Citroën (or Maserati?) dealers were ever around? I think they cost $19 grand, circa 1972? Better find a French-Italian witch to conjure up any worn or missing parts? They turn-up on 70’s TV, usually an eccentric, rich criminal has one. See “Columbo.”

    Like 13
  4. Avatar photo TRUTH

    Interesting, but can it even be fixed up? For a reasonable price.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo DLO

      The TRUTH nowadays is that nothing can be fixed up for a reasonable price.

      Like 15
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      The usual adage for classic cars applies even more emphatically here:

      Buy the very best example you can possibly find and afford, or you’ll spend even more to bring a lesser example up to the same standard, and (with exceedingly rare exceptions) you’ll never get out of it what you put into it.

      The only sound rationale for buying a basket case to restore is for cost-be-damned preservation of the marque/model for its own sake, and either love of doing the work yourself or having a bottomless wallet to pay an experienced specialist to do it all for you properly (RIP Jerry Hathaway).

      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo matthew grant

    I had the same car, same color in 1974 when my brother overhauled my 1750 duetto and loaned me his for six mos. AMAZING car (for a 21 yr old to drive). but to buy one that is in this condition? uh, no way. the parts are difficult at best to procure, the complications of the junk under the hood are numerous. I wouldn’t touch this car with a $6000 pole. OVERPRICED.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Troy

    I was never a fan of the Citroen cars of these years I always thought they looked funny, fans of them say they were ahead of their time, I guess when you kinda compare them to today’s cars they are at least on the outside similar in design for more aerodynamics. If you can find a world book encyclopedia from 1968 (yes now I’m showing how old I am) the section on cars of the future some of the sketches or drawings look similar to the late 80s and early 90s Ford Taurus. Now with today’s cars you park them side by side and cover the emblems and they all look the same.

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Larrry G

    Burt Reynolds outran the cops with on in the Longest Yard. Then he dumped it in the river. Said he couldn’t find a car wash.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo tompdx

      Great movie. Too bad killing the SM landed him in prison, but I guess if it hadn’t there’d be no inmates vs’ guards game, and thus no movie.

      Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Neil R Norris

    They’re an acquired taste … that I never acquired.

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Doug A Braik

    I have 2 of these in Lincoln, California.
    In the barn, Project/parts cars at best.
    Free ! come and get them

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Jesse Staff

      Send them in and we will auction them for you!

      Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Frank Barrett Member

    If you want a Citroen, start with a 2CV: very simple, relatively inexpensive. Or then a DS, more stylish and luxurious but more complicated. Starting out with an SM would be Sado-Masochism!

    Like 3
  11. Avatar photo Bob Morris

    I owned a Citroen ID19 in the 1960’s and it was a great car. I always wanted an SM with the Maserati engine and manual shift. See Jay Leno’s video on his Citroen SM, his opinion is it’s near the top of the list of great cars. The engineering was way beyond most cars. There are few mechanics with the technical knowledge to work on them. Check out the Los Angeles Citroen Car Club website, you will learn a lot!

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo matthew grant

      I have owned around 50 cars. although the SM I had was my brother’s car, at 21 I so appreciated the way it drove, it’s sheer capacity and elegance was by far that of a spectacular car. I worked for Mercedes Benz and have driven nearly everything made except a Ferrari (though I have been in several) and nothing is more refined than the SM. a few more ponies and it would have been the perfect car. even a Rolls Royce is not as refined.

      Like 8
  12. Avatar photo Bob Morris

    Matthew thank you for your positive input. We are in agreement!

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo Claudio

    A no reserve auction starts a 1cent , any starting bid is a reserve so a $6000 starting bid , is a reserve auction
    It has nothing to do with the max selling price as anyone would accept top dollar for anything that they put up for sale …

    Like 0

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