Anomalies

UPDATED
6/2022

On this website we have spent a lot of effort comparing the differences between European SM’s and those that were federalized for North America (USA and Canada). But there were some anomalies out there! 

 

EARLY SM’s FOR THE PRESS

Some of the early SM’s that Citroën sent over for the press in late 1971 or early 1972 were of an unusual configuration. Let’s look at these cars and then discuss what makes them unusual.

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Motor Trend Magazine, 1971

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Motor Trend Magazine, 1971

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Motor Trend Magazine, 1972

MOTOR TREND MAGAZINE

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Road Test Magazine, 1972

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Road Test Magazine, 1972,

provided by Vlad Gladkov

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Road Test Magazine, 1972,

provided by Vlad Gladkov

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Road Test Magazine, 1972,

provided by Vlad Gladkov

ROAD TEST MAGAZINE, APRIL 1972

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CITROEN PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS

The above photos show four different cars, all of a strange configuration.

 

What makes these cars unusual? If you look closely, you might notice that they are NOT North American models, despite the USA headlights. It is our speculation that full North American models were not available in time to support the factory’s desired rollout of the SM to the American press and so they hastily equipped several Euro models with USA headlights and sent them over to the USA for the media. The different color headlight buckets on the second Motor Trend car tends to support this theory. 

 

See if you can spot any other clues, but here is what we see….

 

  • All North American SM’s have side marker lights – these four cars have none.

  • All North American SM’s have orange front turn signal lenses. But these cars have the two-color front turn signal lenses (orange/white) typically found on French cars. 

  • All North American SM’s have ugly plastic rear license plate lamps installed on either side of the rear license plate. These cars have the European rear license plate bar.

  • All North American SM’s have shoulder harnesses for the front seat belts, with the anchor high on the B-post. But these cars do not have these North American-style shoulder harnesses.  

  • All North American SM’s have smog equipment in the engine compartment (evaporative system and the secondary air-injection system) but these cars have none of these systems. 

  • North American cars have white back-up light lenses but these cars have yellow back-up light lenses that were found only on French cars. 

  • All North American cars have a metal warning plate on the hydraulic reservoir that warns users not to use Brake Fluid. These cars do not have this warning plate. 

 

Did we miss anything? Does anyone out there know more about these cars?

JACQUES NE's PERSONAL SM

Jacques Né can be considered the father of the SM. He worked at Citroën from 1948 and remained there through the era of the SM until his retirement in 1984. He started off as a draftsman in the the famous Bureau d'Etudes, the office from which all of the wonderful Citroën technologies emerged. 

In an article about Jacques Né written by the late automotive journalist Roger Brioult, Jacques Né describes how throughout the 1960's, Citroën wanted to explore how much horsepower could be applied to a front wheel drive car. The first Traction Avant had about 50 hp. Initial DS's had roughly 75 hp. By 1966, horsepower in the DS had reached and crossed the 100 hp threshold, and the DS23 EFI had 130 hp.

 

Jacques Né indicates that there was a concern that there might be a practical limit to the horsepower that can work well with front wheel drive. Specifically, hard acceleration from a standstill causes a weight shift aft, thereby unloading the front wheels. As the front wheels unload, there is a possibility of excessive wheel spin. 

Jacques Né found that this concern was somewhat unfounded. By testing DS's with alternative higher performance engines, he found that much higher horsepower was possible with front wheel drive. This allowed the SM project to proceed. 

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JACQUES NE

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ROGER BRIOULT (LEFT) AND JACQUES NE (RIGHT) WITH JACQUE'S PERSONAL SM, PHOTO PROBABLY FROM ABOUT 1984

Jacques had a personal SM (a very early 1970, S/N 291) that started off life as a sort of a test-bed car, so it has some features not found on production cars. The black and white photo above shows Jacques and this SM (this photo is probably from about 1984 when he retired and acquired the car from Citroën). 

The car was restored and offered for sale in a 2022 auction in Paris. 

Notice anything odd about it? It has side marker lights! These lights can be seen in both the 1984 photo as well as the 2022 photo(s) and appear to be the same side marker lights that were used on North American models when they arrived on our shores over a year after this car was built. But why would Jacque Né's car have these lights installed well in advance of the release of a North American version? 

Note that USA Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) #108 mandated that passenger cars built after 01 January 1970 were required to have illuminated marker lights on the front and rear fenders. Clearly Citroën had been thinking about the North American market, probably from the very start of the "S" program. But still, why does this car have side marker lights? It doesn't seem to have any other North American features...

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Artcurial.com

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Artcurial.com

JACQUES NE's SM AS SEEN IN 2022