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Low Miles! 1973 Citroen SM Coupe

Citroen’s DS – covered here at Barn Finds a number of times – was a tour de force in the world of automotive history. In 1961, Citroen began working on its encore, originally intended as simply a high-performance version of the DS. But two factors intervened in the car’s development: a proliferation of models in the “personal luxury car” segment, and Citroen’s purchase of Maserati in 1968. The luxury-but-sporty niche was defined by Ford’s Thunderbird, and soon, every car maker needed an entry in this blossoming segment. Meanwhile, along with the purchase of Maserati came Giulio Alfieri, a master at engine design. The concept for Citroen’s new car shifted toward a sporty grand touring vehicle. The SM was launched in 1970. With a teardrop shape conceived in-house by Robert Opron, a small, lightweight powerplant contributed by Maserati, and Citroen’s existing hydro-pneumatic suspension, the new car collected effusive kudos from automotive journalists for its performance. It even won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award in 1972 – the first non-American car to do so. Here on craigslist is a 1973 Citroen SM 3.0 Automatique, with an asking price of $28,000. This car is located in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. It is a three-owner car with an odometer reading of just 53,554 miles. Thanks to PRA4SNW for spotting this French luxury car for us!

The engine is a 3.0-liter 90-degree aluminum V6 breathing through three Weber carburetors which were recently rebuilt. Output is 178 bhp. Thanks to the Borg Warner three-speed automatic, top speed is held to about 130 mph, whereas the slightly lighter-weight manual version could sprint to 140 mph. Stopping power is via four-wheel disc brakes. The self-leveling suspension system has been serviced with new parts. An expanded description of the mechanical condition of the car can be seen here, where the car failed to sell on a high bid of $21,000. A few faults noted are warped rotors, worn pads, a non-op fuel gauge, various leaks, and a missing air compressor for the AC system.

The interior is very slightly worn, but obviously well-cared for. A couple of seam separations are evident in the seats, but the trim is exceptionally well preserved. The rear seats have the usual “barely used” look. While not featured in the craigslist ad, we know from the auction listing that the car comes with a virtual library of literature, including a workshop manual.

Aside from Citroen’s quirky DS technology and the wonderful Maserati motor, the SM introduced variable-assisted steering, tightening the handling response at higher speeds. Euro-delivery cars had headlights that swiveled in the direction of the steering input, but this feature was deemed illegal in America; these are fixed headlights. This car has had one repaint in its factory color, and certainly, the cosmetics are sharp. The SM was sold in America for only three years in small numbers, Citroen having failed to attain an exemption from US bumper regulations in 1974. In fact, fewer than 13,000 SMs were made, since the price – about 10% more than a comparable Mercedes, more than 50% more than a Jaguar, and comparing similarly unfavorably with other peers – repelled buyers. This car’s few mechanical faults are preventing it from achieving the more typical $30k for a ’73 Automatique.

Comments

  1. Fred W

    “Can your shop do service work on a ’73 Citroen? Hello? Why are you laughing?”

    Like 8
    • Rw

      Paul “wreaking” Crewe .

      Like 3
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      A friend of mine has a DS that needs work on its hydro’s. We are in the suburbs of Portland. The only resource he found was a mechanic in the Seattle area, and that gentleman is retiring due to health issues. This car being the same general area, I do wonder if that is prompting this sale.

      Like 3
      • alphasud Member

        If he is unable to find anyone I would help but I’m in north Idaho.

        Like 2
      • Michelle Rand Staff

        I contacted Paul and he is willing to ship the car to you if you’re serious! Let me know how I can put the two of you in touch….

        Like 1
  2. Rw

    Paul “wreaking” Crewe .

    Like 1
    • Sam61

      Burt Reynolds gave it a Viking funeral. I would consider it a mercy killing…kill it before it craps out on the next owner. Still one of the coolest cars ever!

      Like 2
  3. Kurt Member

    Very nice. No idea if price is too high or not however. Would love to hear that Maserati engine run. Being a 1974 car Cali emissions req. are not a problem.

    Like 5
  4. Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

    A tangible/visual definition of “eclectic” with a French accent.

    Like 1
  5. TheOldRanger

    Citroen is one car I wouldn’t take if they gave it to me.
    Well, the same is true for VW too.

    Like 2
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely car. I’ve only seen one in person, and that was in Seattle Washington. I’d buy one if there were places to service it and maintain its parts. I used to find it more attractive than the DS. I still find the front of the SM quite attractive.

    Like 4
    • John Eder

      Parts availability isn’t a problem- these things are in Pick and Pull yards everywhere…

      Like 1
  7. Sam61

    I remember one these sitting on the used car “back row” at Len Pollock Buick in Portage/Gary Indiana (US 20) for anyone else familiar with the area. It was 1977 when I got my driver’s license…I drove by there all the time. I ended up with a $500 1953 Imperial 4 Dr with a 331 hemi and fluid torque drive…”slush o matic”. Ugly car but it was my ugly car. I eventually got a new/cheap dark green respray and 4 inch white walls from Sears.

    Like 1
  8. Shallow Minded Reader

    Car Nut,
    SM World near San Diego has everything you might need. For Service, try a maserati mechanic, there are several in the seattle area. MIE corp is one of the biggest in the country with service in Seattle. The SM shared engine and hydraulics with 70 era V6 Maseratis

    Like 4
  9. FrankD Member

    My first siting was in the pits of Watkins Glen GP back in 73. Cool car with great aero for the era. It was so quiet moving threw the air the owner installed those plastic horn shaped convergent divergent whistle so the deer would know a car was coming.

    Like 1
  10. Harry

    The French Riviera yes… Citroen no.

    Like 1
  11. alphasud Member

    I watched this car on BaT. I would think the market has spoken at 21K. Probably because lack of documentation specifically with the engine. Timing chains and exhaust valves can be a costly mistake. If there was a way I could afford this right now I would ring the owner.

    Like 3
  12. WaltL

    IMHO, these are one of the best looking, best handling/braking, and “ahead of their time” cars ever made. I’d love to own one in manual trim and almost bought one real cheap, but then I did some research. Unfortunately, the power plant was a rushed to market, purpose built V6 (lopped off 2 cyl. from the Maserati V8) that has more than it’s share of “issues” (rear timing chain, oil pump, ignition, etc, etc, etc… I’ve read that if you have endless amounts of cash to throw at these on a regular basis (or don’t drive them a lot), they’re wonderful rides. As has been said many times: “Why do you think they named it SM?”

    Like 3

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