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Exterior & Lighting




Sadly, all USA SM's had fixed sealed beam headlights in cast aluminum buckets with no glass covers. These US headlights drove significant changes to many parts in the front-end of the car.  These headlight changes were driven by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) #108, "Lamps, reflective device and associated equipment." 


Euro front lighting


USA front lighting

Cast aluminum headlight bucket for USA models.

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Canadian SM's had an interesting progression of exterior lighting. 

It was early 1971 when Canadians got their first glimpse of an SM when a lone demonstrator car was paraded across Canada by Citroën. This car was a full-Euro model. Photos and more information about this car can be found in the  1971 British Columbia section of this website. 


Almost a year after this demonstrator car made its appearance, the first batch of SM’s arrived in Canada to be sold to the public. These first Canadian market cars came in with Euro headlights but with the same side marker lights and rear license plate lights that USA cars had, thus making the first Canadian SM’s a hybrid between European and USA configurations. Gary Cullen’s famous photo from early 1972 in the Citroën Vancouver showroom shows this early Canadian configuration. 

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Gary Cullen's photo of the Vancouver BC showroom in early 1972 - Note USA-style side marker lights but Euro turning headlights

But later on, Canadian cars lost the amazing Euro headlights and instead received full USA lighting (front and rear). We believe that this change occurred for 1973 models. The parts books do not reflect any of this and suggest that all Canadian cars had full USA lighting from the start. Clearly, the parts books are wrong. 


Even though the Euro headlights on the earlier Canadian SM's appear to be full Euro parts, there was one part that was unique to Canadian cars. The headlight support structure (item 2 from the parts book snippet below) was unique to Canadian cars. It was almost exactly the same as the Euro version, but had four threaded M6 nuts welded on the back for securing a Canadian-sized license plate. Euro Cars we have looked at did not have these nuts.

So it appears that the factory made several headlight supports. The parts book only shows one part number (5408597), thus not reflecting these variances. 

Headlight support was unique to Canadian 1971 and 1972 SM's

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Threaded nuts in the headlight support for a Canadian license plate

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Several SM’s we have looked at have a data plate mounted in the trunk, on the right-hand side panel. This data plate does not appear on all SM's, just some. The data plate is a bit mysterious, but notice the “E2” symbol on the top of the plate. Does this look familiar? It is the same symbol that can be found on the glass headlight covers on Euro model SM’s and DS’s. 


It turns out that European countries approve exterior lighting to a standardized set of technical regulations called the ECE regulations (ECE = Economic Commission for Europe). ECE regulations for cars date back to the late 1950’s. Code “E2”, as seen on the data plate, is the exterior lighting approval code for France. Other countries have different E-numbers for lighting approval (for example, cars made in Germany have “E1”, Italian cars have “E3”, etc). The other numbers and letters on the headlight glasses adjacent to the “E2” symbol have specific meaning as well. For example, “HR” means, “halogen main beam”. 

The Hella lighting company has a list of these headlight codes HERE.

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Plate signifying government approval of the lighting system(s), located in the trunk

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E2 marking on an SM headlight cover, signifying compliance with ECE regulations. The E2 marking is on the optiques as well

So, it appears that ECE regulations resulted in this data plate. But is not clear why this plate is only on some SM's. It has been suggested that SM's exported to other European countries (such as Italy, Germany, etc) had the plates installed, thus signifying to other European countries that the French government had approved the lighting to ECE standards. This theory makes sense based on cars that seem to have the plate installed. But if this is the case, why this plate is not installed on any DS’s of the era….?


Even more unusual, we found that many (but not all) US and Canadian SM’s have this plate installed. 



Front turn signal lenses had three different color versions:


  • All USA and Canadian cars had orange lenses. 

  • All Italian cars had white lenses.

  • Other European countries had lenses with an orange segment and a white segmen​t.

It is noted that today, 50 years later, many SM's have had replacement lenses installed, so the colors found on a car now may or may not match the above delivery configuration. 

USA and Canadian cars

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Euro Configuration

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The tail light lens colors on SM’s are very confusing and the parts books are not particularly helpful to sort this out. However, the following generalizations seem true:


USA/Canadian cars:

  • Brake light lenses: RED

  • Tail light lenses: RED

  • Rear turn signal lenses: RED (1971 and 1972) or ORANGE (1973)

  • Back-up light lenses: WHITE

  • Central lens (non-illuminated): RED


Euro Cars:

  • Brake light lenses: RED

  • Tail light lenses: RED 

  • Rear turn signal lenses: ORANGE

  • Back-up light lenses: YELLOW for French cars up to 6/74, otherwise WHITE

  • Central lens (non-illuminated): ORANGE

Per the parts book, only French market cars up to 6/74 had yellow back-up light lenses. The rest of European countries had white back-up light lenses, same parts used on USA/Canadian cars. 

Typical USA/Canada rear end for 1971 and 1972 - red tail, turn and brake light lenses

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Typical USA/Canada rear end for 1973 - orange turn signal lenses, red tail and brake light lenses

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Typical rear end for a French car up to 6/74 with yellow back-up light lenses - After 6/74 French cars received white back-up lenses

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The central non-illuminated lens had a different part number for USA/Canadian cars (5410056). Supposedly, USA and Canadian cars had a red plastic lens and European cars had an orange lens. But for some reason, a fair number of European cars now seem to have the red one installed. 

Example of a Euro car with the orange central lens

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It is noted that today, 50 years later, many SM's have had replacement lenses installed, so the colors found on a car now may or may not match the above delivery configuration. 



All USA/Canadian cars had large, inelegant black plastic license plate lights on the rear hatch instead of the sleek stainless-steel license plate light bar found on French cars. The USA/Canadian lamps were made by Seima.

The USA-style license plate lamps were used on cars intended for a few other countries as well, (i.e.  Italy and Switzerland) but the location of the lights on the hatch was a bit different to accommodate local license plate sizes.


For example, the license plate lights on Italian cars are located about 50mm (2 inches) further apart, but are otherwise identical.  There is only one hatch part number listed in the parts book, so we presume that if one bought a replacement hatch, one had to locate and drill your own license plate and license plate light holes.

USA/Canadian style license plate lamps

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USA/Canadian spacing for license plate lamps

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Italian spacing for license plate lamps



US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) #108 required that cars built in 1970 (or after) have illuminated side marker lights. As such, all USA (and Canadian) SM’s have illuminated side marker lights made by Seima. Orange-colored lenses in the front, red in the rear.

This means that the front fenders and rear quarter panels were unique for all North American cars since they had cut-outs for the side marker lights. Also, the wiring harnesses were unique to accommodate the side marker lights (the wiring harnesses were different on USA/Canadian cars for many other reasons as well).

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USA/Canada side marker light - Amber for front

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USA/Canada side marker light - Red for rear


USA/Canada side marker light - Manufactured by Seima - Very similar to lamps used on USA/Canadian DS's of the era


Some USA SM's had exterior moulding that ran down each side of the car. This moulding was installed on a decent percentage of USA cars. Based on a (very unscientific) review of photos of North American SM's, it would appear that this moulding was on perhaps 1/2 of all SM's sold in the USA?

The moulding was a composite, with an aluminum strip and a plastic insert. The plastic insert seemed to be black most of the time, but sometimes an off-white insert showed up, usually on the white cars. Some versions had a small reflector embedded at the forward-most and aft-most ends of the trim. 


This trim was a standard aftermarket product and seems to still be available today from various automotive trim suppliers.

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Typical SM molding with off-white insert and reflectors at the end

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Typical SM molding with black insert

A few of the USA brochures list the side molding as an option, such as the various versions of the Harmony of Opposites brochure. Also, several readers found original SM window stickers that showed the door trim as a US $90 option. An example is shown below. 

The general consensus was that this trim was USA-sourced and was "port installed" by Citroën personnel, after the cars were in North America. 

Several Canadian cars have been found with this same trim. 


1973 SM window sticker showing the side trim option

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