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Vive La France Take #2: 1972 Citroen SM


Imagine my surprise at finding this barn find Citroen for sale here on my local craigslist in Raleigh, North Carolina for $4,000 only a day after we featured this great ID19. Unfortunately, this one looks a little the worse for wear, despite having a claimed 39,000 miles.


As I’m sure most of you know, the SM built upon Citroen’s hydropneumatic expertise gained over the years with the DS series and added a Maserati V-6 engine and an even swoopier body. In the US versions, we didn’t get the really cool covered and directional headlights that turned with the steering wheel, and were left with the four federally-mandated sealed beams. Many folks have later retrofitted the European lamps but they are quite expensive. You can see what the US version should look like from this one that Jesse profiled a while back. This car has some real paint issues, although it’s hard to tell exactly how much rust there is from these pictures.


Even the shabby paint can’t hide the clean lines of the SM. It’s nice to see original wheel covers still in place, what I think is rust above the bumper on the fender doesn’t fill me with optimism. These are highly sophisticated cars and from what I have heard really require either fanatical owners or specialist attention when they are in this type of condition. As the ad says, …great


No mention is made of interior condition, but the picture is self explanatory. I believe this is a manual transmission car based on the shifter; like almost everything else about the SM, it’s unusual.


Nothing is said about the engine condition either, and naturally, being a Maserati item parts and service will not come cheaply. That being said, from everything I have heard, driving a good SM is a sublime experience. Is the hill worth the climb to take this potential basket case on? Let us know your thoughts below.


  1. Avatar photo sparkster

    Burt Reynolds called and wants his Citroen back . Great movie ! Love the two cops at the bar. Semi – automatic transmission ? Can’t remember who the chick he pissed off was ?

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    • Avatar photo Jim

      Anitra Ford

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  2. Avatar photo Luke Fitzgerald

    oh dear –

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    • Avatar photo Jason Houston

      Run, fast, before it eats us!

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  3. Avatar photo greggol

    The cost to put this right will be staggering. This was a supercar when new, one of the finest ways to cover long distances at speed in complete comfort. It takes some time to get used to driving one. The brake pedal is a switch, and super fast speed weighted self-centering steering. I’m also in NC, not sure who will have the knowledge and specialist tools to work on this. If you must have one, buy one already sorted out.

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  4. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Good heavens. If you walked away from the DS, I’d sprint away from this. Again, 39K,,, why would you even make light of that? I saw a Youtube video on driving a SM, that is a stick shift. ( that center “barrel” thing, moves forward and back). While I like the styling more, I wouldn’t know the 1st thing about them, mechanically. 39K,,,unbelievable. Again, what’s with the 1 spoke steering wheel? What was the advantage there?

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    • Avatar photo Chris

      The theory behind the one spoke wheel was that an as an unrestrained human body was flung forward in a crash, they’d hit the wheel. It would deform, and the body would be directed forward & to the vehicle center line.
      That’s assuming the crash happened with the wheel in the straight ahead position.
      The spoke is in the 8 o’clock postion for LHD, and 4 o’clock for RHD.
      Me? I’d rather wear a lap sash seat belt.

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      • Avatar photo Howard A Member

        Thanks Chris. I figured it was something like that. Sounds a little silly, but considering the car itself is pretty far out there, it doesn’t surprise me. And of all engines, why a Maserati engine? Sounds like trouble right from the get go.

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      • Avatar photo Jamie Staff

        Chris, that’s interesting. As a lover of symmetry, it would drive me nuts that the spoke wasn’t in the 6 (or I suppose 12) o’clock position!

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  5. Avatar photo Jason Houston

    Hey, this would make a great RESTOMOD!

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  6. Avatar photo skloon

    Sacre merde ! just say non

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  7. Avatar photo Matt C

    With drivers still in the $12-15k range, it would be insane to even consider restoring this one. How do I know – I’ve got one, a gendarme blue ’72. This car is worth $1,000 – $1,500 maximum as a parts car, of which there are plenty around the country, parked and neglected when something went wrong (usually early, which explains the low mileage). Excelsior Motors, a marque specialist in KY, has at least a dozen just like this one parked outside around the perimeter of his shop. Once you start looking, you’ll find that cars in this condition aren’t that hard to find – just hard to sell.

    Mine is an “automatique,” and I originally looked at cars like this to swap the transmissions, only to find out that it is not a simple bolt on switch but requires a lot of work.

    As noted, they are beautiful cars and it’s always sad (for me) to see one in this condition. They are GT cars rather than sports cars, but the ride is very smooth with the Citroen suspension and the Maserati V6 pulls the heavy car along quite nicely. They are also quirky, complicated, and French/Italian, so ownership is not an inexpensive or painless endeavor. My favorite analogy (borrowed) is to a stunningly beautiful, but dramatic and demanding mistress. The SM requires constant attention, high maintenance, lavish spending, and rewards you (occasionally) with a driving experience that is so sublime that when you pull back into the garage you feel like you’ve been to heaven and back.

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    • Avatar photo Simon B

      I am looking for a Project for the next couple of years, so if you know of any, please let me know, even better if its a low price.

      Many thanks.


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  8. Avatar photo piper62j

    No.. .Not another one.. Aren’t they extinct????

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  9. Avatar photo Mark S

    I like its quirky look but I’m not sure I’d want it. The only way I’d take on a car like this would be to do a total mechanical refit to much more common domestic technology. That is the only way I see this being affordable to rebuild and operate. I know that the sacrifice that many of you have talked about would be the ride.i Would opt for an a much simpler air ride on existing suspension parts coupled with conventional brakes a modest domestic engine and auto trans of similar size and power to what’s in the car now. I’d want to keep stock wheel if possible. Do a fresh repaint in original colour and leave the interior as stock as possible. The fact is that this should be in the hands of a citron expert some one that knows how to deal with this unique car.

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