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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

1972 Citroen SM - Introduction

When it comes to driving and maintaining classic cars, especially exotic and complicated ones like the Citroen SM, there are economies of scale. The major learning curve happens the first time you fix something. The first brake job is difficult, and the second job goes much faster. Since the 73 SM is still an ongoing project, having another car to mix and match parts with is not a bad thing. And hopefully, in the future at least one of these cars will be running at any one time!

Whenever an SM pops up for sale in proximity to Chicago, the antennae go up. In this case, a brown 1972 Model with a 2.7 liter engine and a 5 speed manual transmission popped up on Bring A Trailer in nearby Wisconsin. The above picture is how the car was presented by the seller. Like most, the car had been in long term storage and would need some reconditioning to bring back to life.

The real reason we were interested in this car was the Euro-spec front lights. Although this car originally had the four US-spec DOT round headlights, at some point it was converted to the more attractive Euro light setup. This includes six individual Marchal lights which stay level with the suspension. Additionally, the inner light on each side swivels with the steering to follow the road. Both of these systems are tied into the hydraulic system of the car. The slick glass covers create a more streamlined look to the car.

We removed the entire front light "clip" shortly after taking delivery of the car. The headlight housing unit is all metal. Although this unit was painted brown to match the rest of the car, we believe it came from the factory in grey. In this picture you can see the complicated hydraulic system for swiveling and leveling the lights. Pretty advanced for the early 70s.

Another unique feature of this car is the factory sunroof. According the BAT listing, there were only about 100 US cars with this sunroof option, which was installed at port of entry by ASC. It does fit flush and matches the lines of the car well, as opposed to the universal sun roofs that a lot of cars got in the 70s.

One of the coolest manual shifter bezels on Earth! Also nice to see that this car still retains the factory stereo in the center console. Together with the gold anodized treatment on the trim this is one very swanky interior.

Dashboard is uncracked, and the interior overall is clean and presentable. Seats are not quite the mint condition of the 73, but they should clean up nicely with a little leather conditioner.

Reconditioning on this car started immediately. It needed hydraulic spheres for the suspension, spark plugs, some carb rebuilding, and various other hoses and brake repairs. In this picture you can see the headlights are already removed.

In addition to the Euro lights, this car also came with a set of the US spec lights and bezels, which were swapped in with some new LED DOT size headlights. Repairs were also performed on the Air Conditioning system and the heater. From the looks of it, with a little work this 72 could be a runner in no time.

Remember those economies of scale? This car needed a new exhaust. We were able to grab the stainless back section from the 73 and add a new catalytic converter. Here is the system jigged up and ready to go back in the car.

Jim owned an SM in the 70s that was black. Now that he has two, the wheels started to turn. The blue 73 is a pretty color and was not a candidate for a color change. But what about this brown car...

Ta-da! The 72 visited the vinyl wrap shop and came back black. Surprisingly, Jim's original SM was brown also, and repainted black. Black was one of the rarest SM colors - a shame since it suits the gangster looks of this car so well.

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