Parts Car and Stash: 1973 Citroën SM

The Citroën SM was a high-performance coupé produced by French manufacturer Citroën from 1970-75. Citroën was known for being an innovator and this product was no exception. It included things like hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension and self-leveling headlights that swiveled with the steering (except in the U.S. as they weren’t legal yet). The SM placed 3rd in the 1971 European Car of the Year competition and won the 1972 U.S Motor Trend Car of the Year Award. You didn’t see a lot of these cars on the road here and seldom now. The seller has described this as a parts car and it comes with more than 200 pieces to fit other SM coupes. It can be found in Los Gatos, California, and here on craigslist for $5,000 (the seller has just cut the price in half).

This series of automobiles became a favorite of automotive journalists. It was unlike anything else they had experienced before. The SM combined comfort, handling, and amazing braking not seen in other cars of the day. Popular Science reported that the SM had the shortest stopping distance of any automobile they had tested. The SM could cruise at 125 mph for hours on the Autobahn. The car’s V6 engine produced 174 hp and with reasonable fuel economy could go forever with its 24-gallon U.S. gas tank. So why didn’t a car like this stick around longer? Well, Citroën got into financial trouble, and they suffered through a bad economy and the 1973 oil crisis, so bankruptcy wasn’t far behind.

We don’t know much about this car and the seller spends most of the listing identifying parts, yet it’s the car the photos are of. The parts trove includes hoods, fenders, trunk lids, doors, glass, seats, engines,  pistons, carburetors, air cleaners, interior trim panels, and the list goes on. The seller estimates the whole package is worth $10,000, but he’ll let it go for half that. An acquisition like this is going to have to appeal to just the right individual.

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Comments

  1. That Guy

    The seller might have a bit more luck if he spelled Citroen correctly. Probably a lot fewer people searching for Citrone parts.

    If I had adequate storage I’d consider this as it’s right down the road from me.

    Like 5
  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow. That’s a junkyard car if I’ve ever seen one. 5k for that is pretty steep. I mean it’s not a long hood 911 for crying out loud

    Like 1
    • Rick in Oregon

      I have to agree, these are difficult cars to restore and this is a frame restoration. Now buying it and waiting 10 years would probably net you a tidy profit, restoring it and waiting years even more I suspect but wow what an undertaking! Nice original examples are still fairly priced but these can be a nightmare to maintain and if the sodium filled valves are still present, major head aches await……

      Like 1
      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        Well I might have been a little quick in beating this up. I still think it’s overpriced given the condition of the car but a quick look at values have these mid 5 figures for nice ones.

        Maybe 5k with the parts stash is marketable for collectors of the model

  3. Doug

    In a 73 episode of Columbo the killer used this very car to get around and Columbo was so impressed by this brand new car !!! Maybe the same one ??

    Like 1
    • Richard Kirschenbaum

      That would have been Patrick McGoohan. Earlier in the episode he murders Leslie Nielsen. He encounters Columbo at a gas station. Columbo is predictably out of money and the killer foots his petrol bill.

      Like 3
      • Doug

        Ya that was the one !!! Maybe the same car ? California ?

  4. Steve Clinton

    Ugly new, ugly now.

    Like 1
  5. Richard Kirschenbaum

    I remember at the ’72 Chicago Auto Show Citroen was displayed across the walkway from Rolls Royce.
    A gum cracking girl with a huge pink wad in her mouth and colossal comb half out the back of her denims inquiring about the SM.

    “Hey! How much you get for one o’ dem?”

    “Fourteen thousand dollars responded” the rep in a subdued French accent.

    “Yeah? That Rolls is twenty five and this looks shaaaahper.”

    I almost wished her good luck on her GED but that might have implied she’d made it thorough the 8th grade. You don’t want to make assumptions like that.

    Like 2
  6. Gary R Nugent

    In the original “Longest Yard”, Burt Reynolds shoves one of these into Drive from the outside and watches it sail off a dock (Santa Monica?) after a long drunken police chase. I will never forget how it looked bobbing in the ocean.

  7. Eric

    Engines are almost completely distroyed, because the distribution chain should be replaced after 80000km, but you had to remove the whole engine to remove the distribution chain cover, so nobody did it, until the chain broke, and the engine became total-loss!

  8. Shervin

    I have a story about this car.

    In December of 2010, I had just finished my first semester of community college, and I was driving aimlessly around the suburbs of Cupertino, CA. Normally, driveways there are filled with boring beige Camrys and silver Odysseys. Nothing ever stands out… except on this fine day.

    I turned a corner, and there it was: a Citröen SM, just casually sitting on someone’s driveway like a daily driver. I literally stopped my car to take a better look, because I had never seen one in person before. Besides the paint (it looked like it had recently been primered in grey), it looked like it was in really great shape. So I took a photo: https://i.imgur.com/8OTRFk4.jpg

    I’ve driven by that house many times since that day, but I never saw it again. I always wondered what happened to it, until I saw this post. I looked at my photo, and back at the listing. It’s the same car. The blue California plate “728 LCT” gave it away.

    I’m not sure what has happened to it since that day 11 years ago, but it certainly looks a lot worse. Back then, it actually looked 100% complete. Now it looks like a junkyard find. I hope someone does save it and restore it to its former glory. There aren’t enough of these out there.

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