Monday Money: Citroën SM

Produced between 1970-1975
£17,200 – 54,800 evaluation by Hagerty .

The Citroën SM is an evolution of the DS. It retains a lot of the innovations of its predecessor. A classic example of over-engineering that adheres to the form follows function attitude to car design. It is clear to see that the deign team at Citroën had little in the way of design constraints. For 1970, this car was a window into the future of modern luxury cars.

Futuristic features

One of the stand out qualities of this car, derived from its predecessor, is the incredibly comfortable ride which was likened to “Riding on a cloud”. This level of comfort is achieved using a Hydro-pneumatic suspension which is not too different from the air suspension systems found on modern cars. It has a bonus function of raising the cars height to change a tyre. With that suspension combined with the 2-turn lock-to-lock steering system, this car becomes effortless to drive.

Turning headlights: Want to look round the bend? This car can. The headlamps turn in the direction of the steering up to 90 degrees. A very practical feature that only a handful of cars have today. The lamps auto-level themselves when the car is raised or lowered.


The shape of the car is heavily influenced by nature’s most aerodynamic shape, the tear drop. Citroën really followed through with that design principle when they decided to made the front track width wider than the rear. They also reduced side flowing air resistance by integrating the rear wheels inside the quarter left body panel. Even the licence plate is housed in the headlight cluster shield to reduce drag.  All of this amounted to a 0.26 drag coefficient which is low even by modern standards.




Powered by a Maserati V6 engine, the SM was one of the fastest production vehicles of its time while also having an industry leading short braking distance. Contrary to these standout performance characteristics, the SM was not a performance vehicle but rather a grand tourer.

Why we would buy the car

The SM is a testament to how far ahead Citroën’s designers and engineers were thinking. Its impressive enough that they nailed the innovative features that modern cars are now starting to adopt, let alone being done in a completely mechanical fashion. For those that appreciate the the duality of  mechanical and practical design, like us, will feel like a child in a sweet shop around this mechanical marvel.


By Jamil Jafri

Editor at The Mechanists