In the realm of affordable and innovative automobiles, Citroen is renowned for iconic models like the Traction Avant and DS. However, amidst their lineup, there’s a gem that stands out—the Citroen SM, a luxury grand tourer born two years after Citroen’s acquisition of Maserati.

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Project S and Maserati Collaboration

The roots of the SM can be traced back to 1961 when Citroen initiated “Project S,” originally envisioned as a sportier version of the DS. Over time, this project evolved into a completely new car with enhanced luxury features. However, Citroen faced a challenge—an absence of a high-performance engine. This led to the acquisition of Maserati, with the Italians developing a V6 powerplant for the SM.

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The Maserati-developed V6 for the SM had a displacement of only 2.7 liters, smaller than typical Maserati engines of the time. This downsizing was necessitated by France’s horsepower tax regulations, restricting the engine size of high-performance vehicles.

 Innovative Features of the SM

Beyond its Maserati engine, the SM introduced groundbreaking features for its era. Notable innovations included hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension, self-leveling headlamps, variable-assist power steering, and disc brakes on all four corners. Its aerodynamic design further set it apart in the automotive landscape.

Originally produced as a two-door fastback-style coupe, the SM’s design inspired independent coachbuilders. Henri Chapron crafted variations like a four-door convertible, used by French dignitaries, a four-door sedan named the SM Opera, and a two-door drop-top. Heuliez, a specialist in convertibles, presented a unique pillarless targa top version—the SM Espace.

The Unfulfilled Destiny of the SM Espace

While Citroen briefly considered production of the SM Espace, it remained a concept. Heuliez, undeterred, created a second model—the only “production” version, alongside the concept. In 2023, the SM Espace emerged from storage, showcasing its distinctive features at the Villa d’Este.

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The regular SM, produced for only six years, was discontinued in 1975 after approximately 13,000 units. However, its technological legacy endured, with many innovations finding their way into the successful Citroen CX. Maserati, too, utilized the SM’s V6 engine in subsequent models like the Merak and integrated high-pressure hydraulics in the Khamsin and Bora.

## FAQs: Unraveling the Citroen SM

**Q1: How did the collaboration with Maserati come about?**
A1: Citroen’s pursuit of a high-performance engine led to the acquisition of Maserati, resulting in the development of the V6 powerplant for the SM.

**Q2: Why did the SM have a smaller engine compared to other Maseratis?**
A2: Due to France’s horsepower tax regulations, Citroen opted for a smaller 2.7-liter engine to comply with restrictions on high-performance vehicle engine size.

**Q3: What were the standout features of the SM?**
A3: The SM introduced innovative features, including hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension, self-leveling headlamps, variable-assist power steering, and aerodynamic design.

**Q4: Were there alternative designs for the SM?**
A4: Yes, independent coachbuilders like Henri Chapron and Heuliez created variations, including a four-door convertible, sedan, and the unique SM Espace pillarless targa top.

**Q5: Why was the SM Espace not produced despite being showcased in 2023?**
A5: Although briefly considered for production, the SM Espace remained a concept. Heuliez produced a single “production” model alongside the concept.

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