Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
CitroŽn purchased Maserati in 1968 with the intention of harnessing Maserati's high performance engine technology to produce a true Gran Turismo car, combining sophisticated CitroŽn suspension with a Maserati power unit. The result was the SM (Sport Maserati), first shown at the Geneva Salon of March 1970 and first launched in France in August of the same year.
The SM was also CitroŽn's way of demonstrating just how much power and performance could be accommodated in a front wheel drive design.
Designed in-house by CitroŽn's chief designer Robert Opron the SM is very much a CitroŽn in design and execution, particularly with its wider track at the front and emphasis on the front wheels and 'glasshouse' of lights. In addition, many of the details reflect M. Opron's American background, notably the truncated 'fins' at the rear.
The SM combined many unusual features - lights that swivelled with the steering, unique self centering and fully powered steering, self levelling headlamps, wiper mechanism that is 'sensitive' to rain, and many other features that are now common place on cars of today. In fact, sitting in an SM today (apart from the '70s interior styling) there is nothing that makes you feel that the car is old or out of date, and interestingly the car was used in 1999 in a televison advertisement where 'a futuristic car was required'.
Much of the technology of the SM was carried forward to the CX - the DIRAVI steering being the most obvious example. The engine in enlarged 3.0 L form was used in Maserati's own Merak which, together with the Khamsin , used CitroŽn's high pressure hydraulics.
The SM was never produced in right hand drive although a few prototypes were constructed by Hertfordshire CitroŽn dealer, Middleton Motors. One of these still survives in the UK.
In 1970 it was a car of the future, the fastest front wheel drive car to be made. It was an example of the car as a symbol of optimism and progressive technology, before the fuel crises of the middle seventies and more recent problems of congestion and awareness of the environment caused the large, powerful motor car to fall from favour.
In the USA (one of the main markets for the car), the SM's six headlamp set up was illegal and US specification cars were fitted with four fixed round exposed lamps. There is a story that the first SM imported for a motor show was sent by air freight and on landing during the customs inspection a light exploded due to the changes in air pressure thus the shrouded lights were banned.
The SM was sold in three different versions:
- 2.7 L with Weber 42 DCNF carburettors (170 bhp)
- 2.7 L with Bosch D-Jetronic injection (178 bhp)
- 3.0 L with Weber 42 DCNF carburettors (180 bhp) only available with automatic gear box
Production totalled 12,920 cars and the year by year production figures were as follows:
- 1970 868
- 1971 4988
- 1972 4036
- 1973 2619
- 1974 294
- 1975 115
Coachbuilder Henri Chapron produced a handful of convertibles (SM Mylord) and sedans (SM Opťra). The French President has been known to use long after the end of the distribution two CitroŽn SM prťsidentielle also converted by Chapron .
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