The SM was Citroën’s flagship vehicle, competing with other high-performance GTs of the time from manufacturers such as Jaguar, Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Porsche. France had not had a production vehicle in this segment after World War II, except for the export oriented Chrysler V8 engine Facel Vega in the late 1950s.
The thriving French luxury car industry was decimated by post-World War II puissance fiscale regulation, which has hamstrung French manufacturers for decades.
The SM was Citroën’s way of demonstrating just how much power and performance could be accommodated in a front-wheel drive design.
This was novel, and many technical issues needed to be overcome, especially related to torque steer, where excessive steering feedback impacts control of the vehicle.
This new type of variable assist power steering has since spread throughout the vehicle population, allowed great assistance to the motorist while parking, but little assistance at motorway speeds.
Citroën SM Coupe
Designed in-house by Citroën’s chief designer Robert Opron, the SM bears a vague family resemblance to both the DS and the Maserati Mistral. Like the DS, the SM retains the rear-wheel spats, and seen from above, the SM resembles a teardrop, with a wide front track tapering to a narrower rear track.
After the 1974 bankruptcy of Citroën, Peugeot took ownership of the company and in May 1975, divested Maserati. Peugeot decided to stop building the SM, as sales were just 115 units that year.