Myth Buster

Citroën SM

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

1 ITS NAME STANDS FOR ‘SERIE MASERATI’

The truth is, no­body re­ally knows what ‘SM’ means. ‘Série Maserati’ is a rea­son­able enough as­sump­tion be­cause of the car’s Maserati V6 engine, but ‘Sys­tème Maserati’, ‘Spe­cial Maserati’ and ‘Sports Maserati’ have also been sug­gested. Given that, when the model was be­ing de­vel­oped it was dubbed ‘Project S’, it could also be de­rived from that, with the name of Citroën’s Ital­ian ac­qui­si­tion tacked on the end. How­ever, thanks to Citroën’s love of word­play and the DS’ nick­name of ‘ The God­dess’ (‘La Déesse’ in French), ‘Sa Ma­jesté’ (‘Her Majesty’) has also been pitched as a pos­si­ble. Of course, own­ing one was of­ten an ex­pe­ri­ence akin to sado-masochism, so per­haps…

2 THE ENGINE WAS A TRUN­CATED MASERATI V8

There’s a per­sis­tent ru­mour that the SM’s 2.7-litre V6 was just Maserati’s ex­ist­ing V8 with two cylin­ders lopped off. Not so, ac­cord­ing to its en­gi­neer, Gi­ulio Al­fieri of Maserati. While its un­usual 90-de­gree bank an­gle was the same as on the V8, he al­ways claimed his 1963 de­sign for the C114-V6 unit was new and ex­clu­sive, es­pe­cially as it had to be suit­able for fron­twheel drive and be un­der 2700cc be­cause of France’s fis­cal laws. The engine lived on in the Merak, the Bi­turbo and the 1990s Ghi­bli af­ter the SM’s demise.

3 IT WAS A VERY PRAC­TI­CAL SU­PER­CAR

The SM might be just un­der five me­tres long but its low roofline – six inches less than a DS – lim­its in­te­rior ac­com­mo­da­tion. And the boot is dom­i­nated by the spare wheel. ‘Play­boy lovers of tour­ing in the grand man­ner will have to re­strict their birds to the top­less bikini and tooth­brush sort of lug­gage – the spare gets most of your boot space,’ wrote one critic. Richard Gunn

CITROËN SM

Spa­cious ap­pear­ance is an il­lu­sion – low roof means it’s quite cramped.

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