One Owner Exotic: 1973 Citroen SM

The Citroen SM is a car that often stokes prime car guy emotion, as it’s a slice of Italian pedigree that rarely comes up for grabs at such a low price point. Of course, there’s a good reason for that, and it’s because this is a vehicle that requires a serious financial commitment to rebuild properly, without the same upside as a Ferrari from the same era. Still, if fooling a few of us into thinking we can save it is the way a car like this escapes the years of neglect it’s suffered from, well – I’m OK with that. This example is supposedly a one-owner car, bought and sold new in Arizona, where it’s currently listed here on Facebook Marketplace for $10,900.

The SM lived long enough to see a few iterations, and this is the one that can command big bucks in restored form thanks to having the guts of a Maserati under the hood. The rest of the car is pure Citroen, from the avant-garde design to the highly advanced suspension to the ultra slippery body. There’s no doubt that the engineering genius on display was out of this world for the era in which it was built, but this also translates to being a somewhat bottomless pit to restore back to its original glory. Even with its one-owner history, it seems likely years have passed since the suspension or Maserati internals have fired up.

While the desert states are excellent places to find vintage tin that hasn’t rusted away, the downside is the interiors are usually wastelands if the cars have spent any amount of time outside. As we can see here, time has not been kind to the cabin of the Citroen, so there’s a boatload of work to address even once the mechanicals are sorted out. The car pulls on my emotional side, as the photos show owners manuals, road test reports, the original selling dealer info, and the clear Arizona title. When documentation like that stays with a car for so many years, it sometimes can mean the owner was careful not to misplace those items, and likely had the best of intentions for preserving the Citroen for the long-term.

The listing claims the original owner got up in his years and parked the car, never to turn a wheel again. Given how many older drives turn to simpler cars as they get up in their years, a Citroen SM is one of the harder vehicles to fathom owning when your back is hurting or you don’t have the ability to perform your own maintenance. Perhaps there’s a good car still under all this neglect, a vehicle that was maintained religiously until it was too much work to keep up with. This SM certainly deserves to ride again, but I’m not sure it will find a new owner at the current asking price, as most Citroen enthusiasts know exactly what they’re getting into with a project like this.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Poor thing! I too have a soft spot for these. I guess it’s fortunate that I don’t have the funds to own one. Could be the beginnings of a love hate relationship
    These engines did have their timing chain woes I believe. I wonder if that caused it to sit or was it the hydraulics that let the car down? Pun intended😂

    Like 4
  2. Luxor

    $10.9k is way overpriced for an SM in that condition. $4-5k, tops. One owner adds no value when that owner let it rot.

    Like 4
  3. DLegeai

    As a Citroen aficionado I would love to one day see this SM in running condition again, but I ain’t gonna be the one to achieve this “tour de force”….run Dominique run…..

    Like 3
  4. dave

    Holey Batman – I’ll take the ’55!

    Like 2
  5. luki

    It’s a well known fact that it costs more to restore one of these than they are worth.

    Run!!!!!!

    Like 2
    • Robert Morris

      You are wrong in your projection. I’d put a good restoration cost about $50-60 K. I have seen well restored SM’s selling for $100-120 K.

      Like 1
      • Luki

        $60k to fully restore an SM? 🤣

        Like 1
  6. Sanityfactor@outlook.com

    Theyre weird looking like all citrones….french thing….unattractictive like ùnshaved legs….

    Like 6
  7. R Soul

    I’d rather have the Corvair 95 van.

    Like 5
  8. Big_Fun Member

    As many on this site have commented on American rides and their desire to “put an LS motor in it “, would this be a candidate for not an LS, but a modern drive train in place for affordability reasons? Or, does that defeat the whole point? I understand charm and heritage, and I am trying to be respectful…
    My first exposure to these? Dark Caramel colored Matchbox version. I thought it was out of perportion with the narrow rear…then I saw one. It’s like nothing else, like squeazing out a dab of paint onto an Artist’s Palette 🎨 and ever so slightly shaping it into what you see here…with glass added on, of course. Very powerful in it’s own way.

    Like 9
    • local_sheriff

      That’s a very good point you have there. While I’m personally not one of the SM guys (don’t get me wrong here), a friend of mine owns one of these ‘magic carpets’. But then again he’s into real estate so he has the means to leave any mechanical work to professionals.

      If I understand you right you’re thinking towards some way of simplifying or restomodding it but still make it look like the real deal on the surface. An easier to come by V6/tranny package and modified air suspension would probably give it similar characteristics without the massive OE parts tag. I’m pretty sure some SM purists would call that blasphemy and have you spanked with baguettes for doing so, however if the alternative is parting it out or let it return to nature I’d say why not?

      It’s like stuffing a SBC into everything and anything- while it’s not correct it’s not that bad either…?

      Like 7
      • Big_Fun Member

        That is exactly my point; don’t throw away the drive train, just replace it so it can be driven like they all should. At least get price quotes on the majors, and join all the Citroën groups and boards you can.
        Also.. I’ll bet the interior can look better with a weekend of TLC. No, the rip and cracks will still be there, but it will look better than it does now, and probably smell better, too. Those seats don’t have a specific pattern, but an a Citroën SM expert can tell us.
        After the big clean up, this car, if taken out of the holding yard, and put in an environment complimentary to it, might sell better.
        As proven here, right now there is interest in the ’55 and the ’95’. Not good if you want to sell a forlorn SM.

        Like 3
  9. SDJames

    “The listing claims the original owner got up in his years and parked the car, never to turn a wheel again.” – By the looks of the interior, he may have not left the vehicle…

    Like 5
  10. Jerry Hansen

    Slap a turboed LS under the hood and head for the Bonneville
    salt flats, these things are slippery!

  11. Dickie F.

    I had the exact same thought Dave !
    Why not the 55 ?

    Like 1
  12. Jasper

    Ouch. Not nearly as nasty as the one on Copart in Louisville a while back, but what a sad mess. Definitely need to drop a decimal point. Would be cool painted with a little tint on the glass to hide the rotten interior. Then hang in an atrium or mount to a wall as an architectural accent. They really are unusually striking in a way that just a handful of cars are. Sadder to me is the lack of balls and the rampant unoriginality in automotive design today.

  13. Dick Nepon

    In 73 I was a Citroën mechanic in Waltham Mass. we sold Datson & International pickups, too at Ed St Germain’s dealership. I got to drive SM’s when new and used. Both multi carb ( easily flooded) and later fuel injected. We required new owners to take a driving class before they left with their purchase. The mushroom brake button was the most unique feature, and it readily stopped the car. The steering wheel felt odd at first. The leveling system just took a bit to adjust to. But what a great vehicle.

    Like 7
  14. Robert Morris

    I think you are wrong in your projection. I’d put a good restoration cost about $50-60 K. I have seen well restored SM’s selling for $100-120 K. Take a look at J Leno’s garage on You Tube and listen to him rave about the Citroen SM. Engineered way beyond what American automotive engineers could think. I owned a Citroen in the early 60’s and it was a fabulous car.

    Like 2
  15. Steve Member

    The interior will cost at least $7,500 to restore, if the foam inserts for the seats are still in decent shape. This appears to be the less desirable 2.7 liter engine, but it is a 5-speed, which is plus. All the parts are there and the glass all appears to be in good shape. Fully restored, this will not be a $60,000 car because of the engine.

    Like 1
  16. j.phillip bandy

    et al

    Gasp!! I have had 5 (five) SM’s From five speeds to automatic’s…Also am a die hard Francophile (Three DS/2CV/Salmson/ Had Delahaye/Talbot) Only people I know that get “into” these cars at prices out of sight…are yes, SM owners…..this car on a good day….$2500.00…..I recently sold tow to AZ..both nice cars….driving, no problems, etc,etc….$10,000 each and was happy to move on.
    Vive La Panhard

    Like 4
  17. bone

    This one looks like it was pulled out of the water after Burt Reynolds drove into the ocean in The Longest Yard

  18. chrlsful

    the ‘no rust in out west cars’ comment can be matched by ‘but no sun tans creating melanoma’ from us east of the Mississip. Any time U neglect a vehicle (any stopped running) you get “the worse” that can happen.

    Really like these, only car that can run on 3 wheels, etc, etc. Some of the French are just so different (like Czechoslovakians) but our reneaults & simcas were pretty run of the mill (mid 60s to late 70s econo boxes). Love to have one if I didn’t have to wrench it (but I would due to poverty, so I wont) the green plastic balls all around, lotsa hydraulics, etc…

    Hope it gets back to its glory daze (& has the better looking ‘1 spoke’ installed)…

  19. Geoff

    A rare quirky car that deserves restoration but it will be a tall order. Our desert climate is great at preserving metal but thing like vacuum pumps and hoses, actuators and servos (which this car is loaded with) tend to dry out and disappear into the desert wind. Add in the scarce availability of parts and people who know how to work on a car in which virtually every system was designed to be as complex and idiosyncratic as possible and one would have their work cut out for them. The things best chance would probably be for someone on the other side of the pond to buy her and ship it back to France for restoration. I hope someone does as this is a historically significant car.

  20. Robert Morris

    Somebody, who like you and I, who recognize the engineering achievements this car represents will pick it up and restore it.

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