Retromobile Paris 2023 – Citroën SM Prototype (1973)
The Rétromobile at Versailles is one of the most exciting European events when it comes to the love of classic vehicles. The French nation's great automotive past is beginning to shine once more for a brief period, and brands like DS are using the momentum to carry something from then into the present.
Before the Rétromobile starts on February 1st, we are showing two milestones of French car culture, which will be on display alongside the modern vehicles on the DS Automobiles stand. For DS, the Parisian car brand, Versailles is a home game that shouldn't be disappointed. An exciting Citroën SM prototype was therefore drawn from the well-filled magazines of automotive artefacts.
Citroën SM Prototype (1973)
When I was young, the SM was the most exciting car ever built in France. An SM, it was gold-colored, could be seen again and again in my hometown. In the provinces, an SM, at that time already an old used car, was still good for a spectacle. Because, under the outrageously long bonnet, lurked a Maserati engine.
A prototype from 1973 rolls DS Automobiles in the headlights of Rétromobile. What, 1973, the older readers will now say, and they'll start to do the math. That's right, the SM came onto the market in the summer of 1970 and only 5 years later the dream was over.
What was Citroën planning with the SM prototype?
The vehicle shown served as a test car to examine the driving behavior of the Citroën SM and the hydropneumatics at particularly high speeds. Acceleration, traction and directional stability should be tested and improved. On board the prototype there was an opportunity to modify the chassis parameters even while driving. The load distribution and rigidity of the hydropneumatics could be changed. The SM served as the basis for Citroën racing models, which should not only be based on the SM.
SM prototype with 340 hp and 285 km/h
Anyone who has dealt with the subject of hydropneumatics and Maserati will now swallow hard. The SM was actually an impossible combination of (soft) hydropneumatics and a fairly robust running Maserati V6. In fact, there are even said to be people who classify the Maserati machine as uncultivated and not suitable for the SM.
However, the SM drew some of its magic from the allure of contrasts. The fact that Citroën seriously wanted to be more sporty is demonstrated by the data from the prototype. The 340 liter engine with the three Weber double carburetors delivers an impressive 3 hp, its top speed is 285 km/h. The driving performance must have been breathtaking back then, because the prototype weighs only 1.169 kilograms.
SM prototype at the Rétromobile
In fact, the SM from the series in the highest expansion version achieves a maximum of 180 (and 178) PS. In 1972, that was sufficient for a top speed of more than 220 km/h, making the SM one of the fastest in the country.
The prototype remained in use at Citroën after the end of production of the SM. Pictures from the company archives come from 1977. At that time the SM was presented to a larger audience. The public exhibition at the historic headquarters on the Quai de Javel in Paris was appropriately titled "The Secrets of Citroën". A full 46 years later, the SM is back on the big stage. From February 1st to 5th it can be seen during the Rétromobile.
With images from DS Automobiles
6 thoughts on "Retromobile Paris 2023 – Citroën SM Prototype (1973)"
Already a great, dangerous things, this SM. But it's pretty sure she won't win a prize for beauty 🙂
What an SM machine... breathtaking and not even 1,2 tons. "easy" :-). Thanks for this great report!
Thanks also to the two previous blog actors for the Schmunzette ;-), wonderful.
In my confirmation age, I was only able/allowed to experience a few SM “live”. I think my place of life was too provincial for the SM...
If so, then gold-colored. Very noble.
I only know the SM live in gold, only from childhood. From films or here as a model but also in dark blue. Bumpers and other chrome really come into their own. I also like it a lot - especially since on classics and because chrome bumpers were already threatened with extinction before 1975, and soon afterwards they will be too.
Looks quite adventurous and dangerous. 285 km/h is crazy fast, and that without ABS, airbags and such? A crazy brave time! Class!
And is that what you're saying? You delivered the three double carburetors, Herr Weber.
Do you maybe have three 45 Webers in stock for me? Just would be enough for me. This is said to bring a Volvo 164 E up to 240 hp. Also looks nicer in the engine compartment than the standard injection (160 hp). Too much and too small. Alone 12 openly laid cables for the 6 injectors ...
Funny that the first comment under a car with basically 6 (!) Weber carburetors (3 double) comes from a Weber of all people 😉
Different times back then, definitely! Missing ABS doesn't even come to mind first. With my 164, which has the year of construction in common with the appearance of the SM (another parallel would be the end of production in 1974/1975 depending on the sales market), it is mainly the steering & chassis. Did it 180 once for a few minutes and never went out. It felt like 240 for an hour.
Also, today one no longer wants to know how much a naturally aspirated engine with so many carburetors and 340 hp might have swallowed. Nevertheless, a hot device, this test vehicle. And yes, definitely a child of its time.
Thanks, delicious! It was probably my grandfather who was responsible for the carburettor battery!