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Engine Compartment and Mechanical



All USA and Canadian SM's were carbureted. No fuel injected cars were officially imported to North America.



The parts books show that some SM’s had plastic (nylon) fuel tanks and some had metal fuel tanks. Fuel tank usage was as follows:


  • All carbureted Euro cars received the nylon fuel tank

  • All Fuel-injected Euro cars received the metal fuel tank

  • All USA/Canadian cars (which were all carbureted) received the metal fuel tank (same part number that was used on fuel-injected Euro cars). 


The fuel level sending unit (and other related hardware) were different to match the above tank usage. Fortunately, most of the fuel tank parts that were used on USA/Canadian cars were also used on other SM's, meaning that most parts are not unique to North American models. 


All SM’s have shielding in the trunk to protect fuel system parts from damage due to shifting cargo. Cars with the nylon tank had a small shield, but cars with the metal tank had a much larger shield that completely enclosed the fuel filler tube. Since all USA/Canadian cars had the metal fuel tank, they all had the more extensive shielding in the trunk. 

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Fuel filler area on a Euro car with a nylon fuel tank

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Fuel filler area on all USA/Canadian cars (metal fuel tank)



All USA and Canadian SM’s were equipped with an emission control system called secondary air injection. Secondary air injection used a belt-driven pump to inject air into exhaust, just downstream of the exhaust valves, with the intent to oxidize (burn) any remaining unburned fuel that would otherwise go out the tailpipe. Per the parts books, Swedish and German cars received the same system on later SM's (1973 and on).


The main component of this system was a belt-driven air pump that was mounted on the forward accessory tray next to the air conditioning compressor, with sheet metal bracketry that looks a bit Rube Goldberg. 

Secondary air injection also utilized something called a gulp valve which was there to prevent backfiring when the throttle was abruptly closed. The gulp valve was mounted on a metal pipe that straddled the accessory driveshaft. Check valves were installed on each exhaust manifold to prevent exhaust from backing-up into the air injection system. 


Typical USA/Canadian engine compartment showing smog pump and gulp valve

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Typical USA/Canadian engine compartment showing smog pump installation

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Close-up of the gulp valve

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Close-up of an air injection check valve and it's tubing


Unique exhaust manifolds and header pipes were used on USA/Canadian cars since the manifolds needed ports for the air injection. This caused the entire front half of the exhaust system to be substantially different than on Euro cars. These unique exhaust components caused the heat shields above the front exhaust elements to be shaped differently (items 7 and 8 from the part book snippet below). Rear exhaust components were the same as Euro cars. 

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Euro headers on left, USA/Canadian smoked headers on right

Smogged exhaust manifold as found on all US and Canadian SM's (right shown, left opposite)

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USA and Canadian cars had drip trays under each cam cover. They were held in place with two metal tabs that were rubberized to prevent rattles and chafing on the cam covers. We cannot find these drip trays in the parts book, but we believe that all USA/Canadian cars were originally equipped with them. Many however have been removed or lost at this point. 

There is a story floating around that the USA exhaust manifolds ran so hot that they caused the cam covers to leak and drip oil onto the hot manifolds. If true, the drip trays would have had a dual function; to act as a heat shield and to divert leaked oil away from the hot manifolds. 

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Drip tray for leaky cam cover seals

Drip trays




US and Canadian cars had two additional metal / asbestos heat shields in the aft, lower left corner of the engine bay. 


  • One was located just below the steering column and provided heat shielding for brake system hydraulic tubing (part number 5420083). This shield is illustrated in the parts book (see item 20 from the parts book snippet above).


  • The second heat shield (part number 5423374) was apparently designed to protect the steering column itself. This part is listed in the parts book but with no illustration. 


Heat shielding in aft, lower left corner of engine bay - unique to North American SM's


Heat shield for steering column - P/N 5423374


The intake manifold on USA/Canadian cars had a unique part number – they had a threaded port for the smog system on each of the six manifold branches. There was a U-shaped metal pipe that connected these ports (see photos). 

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Un-drilled ports in Euro intake manifold

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Drilled and threaded ports for exhaust emission system in the intake manifold for USA/Canadian cars (the ports were capped off by this car’s owner) 

U-shaped metal tube on intake manifold for the emission system

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Evaporative loss systems to capture fuel tank vapors became mandated in the USA in 1970 or 1971. The main component of an evaporative loss system is a charcoal canister. The charcoal canister's job was to absorb fuel vapor that would otherwise vent out to the atmosphere. The vapors trapped by the charcoal are then released back into the engine’s intake and burned. 


All US and Canadian SM’s were equipped with a charcoal canister and associated equipment. 


The cylindrical charcoal canister was mounted in the front left fender, adjacent to the hydraulic reservoir (the charcoal canister was the same part number that was used on the DS).  The rubber intake hose between the air filter and the black plastic air distribution plenum was different on USA/Canadian cars due to the addition of a hose spigot for the charcoal canister. The evaporative loss system also had a plastic vapor recovery tank mounted in the trunk, near the fuel filler hose (item 2 from the parts book snippet below). A plastic tube ran the the length of the car and connected the recovery tank to the charcoal canister. 

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Euro air intake hose without charcoal canister hose spigot

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USA/CAN air intake hose with port for charcoal canister hose


Charcoal canister in front left fender of an SM. This is the same unit that was used on the DS.

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Plastic Vapor Recovery Tank in Trunk

Parts book snippet of the evaporative loss system components

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The topic of the accessory driveshaft is a bit more confusing than it would initially seem. By the time SM's went out of production, there were three different shaft part numbers and as many different coupling designs. North American cars were originally delivered with the Euro shaft and couplings, but ended up with a completely unique arrangement.

Accessory driveshaft arrangement developed for North American cars

Based on the fact that Citroën had several redesign efforts in rapid succession, it seems that the bonded rubber couplings at either end of the accessory driveshaft were problematic from the start. There are reports that when one of the early coupling designs failed, it would sometimes allow the loose end of the shaft to flail wildly around the engine compartment, causing frightening damage.


The first SM's in North America were said to have been suffering unusually high failure rates of these couplings. Why were these bonded rubber couplings on North American cars failing faster than on European SM's? I don't know, but probably heavier use of air conditioning and perhaps the additional load of the smog pump?


The initial version on European cars was quickly followed by an improved version. But North American cars ended up with a third configuration that the European cars did not get. This North American solution included a metal flex-plate for the aft coupling, thereby eliminating the rubber parts altogether. On the forward end, they incorporated an off-the-shelf solution; a large rubber donut called a JUBOFLEX coupling. A JUBOFLEX coupling was a standard part available from a French company called Paulstra. JUBOFLEX couplings are still available today and are used for industrial/automotive applications where rotating machinery has unwanted torsional vibration and/or misalignment that would otherwise damage parts. These rubber donuts are sometimes called a Giubo, but a Giubo is a similar looking part made by an Italian company. 

We understand that a retrofit kit was provided to North American dealers for cars that were originally delivered with the Euro arrangement. We have a copy of the retrofit instructions HERE, courtesy of Jean-Francois Martin (MARRS). David Hume (Excelsior Motors) reports that most of the early North American cars were retrofitted quite early, but every-now-and-then a North American car still surfaces that did not get the upgrade.


We think that eventually, the North American shaft design was installed before SM's were delivered to North American customers, perhaps in late 1973. As a data point, Greg Long's stunningly low mileage and original SM that was built in March of 1973 was delivered by Kolars in Seattle with the second Euro configuration (which is still installed today). 


The parts book is confusing on this topic and does not show the configuration with the flex-plate and the JUBOFLEX. It is thought that the updated shaft arrangement may never have been installed in the factory, and was instead installed by North American dealers by retrofit or before new cars were delivered to customers.


The parts book does however indicate some changes in this area for US/Canadian cars as of 11/71 and more at 7/72, indicating that North American cars received some of the updated European parts earlier than Euro SM's. But these updated Euro parts seem to have only been used briefly in North America, until the flex-plate / JUBOFLEX design was available. The flex-plate / JUBOFLEX version was finally a reliable configuration. 

Below are a few photos of each of the configurations. 

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Bonded rubber coupling (the first version)


Bonded rubber coupling (the second version)


Shaft used with both bonded rubber versions. This shaft is labelled P/N 5435920 but P/N 5406468 was similar (slight length and diameter differences)


JUBOFLEX coupling on forward end of shaft, later North American SM's

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Metallic flex-plate on aft end of shaft, later North American SM's



Shaft used with the updated North American design

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John Titus

A view of the forward coupling with the JUBOFLEX donut. Note the JUBOFLEX coupling in this photo still has the metal band on it that is used to compress the donut during installation. Once installed, this metal band should be removed. Also notice the spherical ball at the end of the shaft that centers it in the end plate.



USA/Canadian cars received distributors with unique part numbers; one part number was for 2.7 liter engines, one for 3.0 liter engines. They apparently had different advance curves than Euro cars, as part of the exhaust emission compliance. 


USA/Canadian cars had different spark plug heat ranges.





All USA/CAN SM’s had a data plate riveted on the tray at the bottom of the windshield near the left wiper blade. This data plate certified that the car conformed to the applicable emission standards for that model year (1971, 1972, or 1973). 


This data plate was orange on 1972 cars with the 2.7 liter engine, and green on 1973 cars with the 3.0 liter engine. There were not many 1971's imported to North America, but we think that 1971's would likely have had a plate like the orange one, but with the year "1971" quoted. Anyone have a photo?

Emission data plate - Orange for 1972 with the 2.7 liter engine

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Emission data plate - Green for 1973 cars with the 3 liter engine

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Chris Dubuque

AC DATA PLATE. All west coast SM's in the USA had a small data plate installed in the engine compartment that showed the model year of the car. An example would be "AC73" which is for a model year 1973 car (see photo). ​Since these AC number plates were installed adjacent to the serial number, some local licensing agencies added the AC number to the serial number, sometimes not.​ So as an example, if a serial number plate of a 1973 SM had serial number 00SD0959, the car's title might show the VIN as 00SD0959 or AC7300SD0959. ​


These tags are a bit mysterious and were not installed on every SM sold in the USA. While nobody is 100% certain of the whole story, Richard Bonfond and the late Carter Willey helped us understand it, at least as well as possible. The story was that Citroën had two main headquarters to import cars; Los Angeles and New York. The Los Angeles office handled all cars shipped to the west coast ports of the USA (LA, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.) and the New York office handled all cars that arrived at the various east coast ports. All west coast SM's had the AC tag. So far, I have not been able to find out the reason why west coast cars had the tag and east coast cars did not. The most logical guess is that the state of California required it, so they were installed on all cars processed through the Los Angeles office. The AC tags were installed by Citroën personnel as a port-installed part, like the sealed-beam headlights and other parts. 

West coast DS's in the USA also had these plates, as of 1960. Canadian DS's and SM's did not get them. 


Chris Dubuque



When Citroën changed hydraulic fluid on North American DS’s from LHS2 (brake fluid) to LHM in the middle of model year 1969, it caused quite a bit of confusion. Owners and repair shops were inadvertently putting the wrong fluid in the LHM reservoir, such as using brake fluid or antifreeze (noting that the color of antifreeze is almost identical to LHM green). 


To help combat these serious mistakes, Citroën went to great lengths on the DS to warn owners and mechanics of the correct hydraulic fluids. These included warnings added to the owner’s manuals and various stickers and plates on the fluid reservoir itself. 


A few of these made their way onto SM's for the US/Canadian market including a metal plate on the reservoir cap advising of the correct fluid. 

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Chris Dubuque

Metal plate on reservoir cap to remind users of the correct hydraulic fluid



An extremely low mileage and original SM in Seattle has this cardboard tag taped onto the air distribution plenum. It is our understanding that all USA cars originally had a tag such as this attached to the engine, however nearly all have been lost by now.  


Greg Long


Greg Long



Per the parts books, North American SM's in 1973 had a different main accumulating sphere than their French counterparts. Specifically, the parts book shows that after 10/72, USA and Canadian SM's had main accumulator part number 5427820 instead of 5437354. Digging into these part numbers suggests that the only difference was that the nitrogen pre-charge was subtly different.


5427820: Nitrogen pre-charge = 65 bars (943 psi)

5437354: Nitrogen pre-charge = 62 bars (899 psi)

The P/N 5427820 sphere was also used on Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish SM's after 10/72. I have no idea what drove the different pre-charge value and in practice, it doesn't make any difference. 


Chris Dubuque


Chris Dubuque

Ever wonder what a pineapple sphere looks like inside?



According to the parts books, USA and Canadian SM's received unique front and rear brake rotors and brake pads. It is unclear exactly what is different, but a knowledgeable SM expert in the USA thinks that rotors and pads were of slightly different material and composition to comply with USA requirements for stopping performance. 


One difference that is identified in the parts book is that the rotors for North American SM's were supposedly marked with a minimum wear (or re-grind) thickness as follows:

  • Front Rotor: 0.36 inches minimum thickness

  • Rear Rotor: 0.16 inch minimum thickness

The parts book show these values in inches, with no metric equivalent.


We have looked at several SM rotors that we think were original to North American cars and we have not been able to see any minimum thickness markings (although some of the replacement rotors for DS/SM's now have a minimum thickness stamped in the outside periphery). 


Paul Burridge

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