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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

Two More SMs

Citroen SMs are a complicated car with exotic engineering for their time. Pretty much everyone we know that owns an SM currently owns or has owned multiple cars, whether they are running or just a parts car. When our friend and Citroen mechanic Andy Daley phoned us about TWO SMs rotting away in a field in Southern Illinois, we were interested. A quick call to the owner and a deal was negotiated. Our towing partner Scott was able to extract and transport the cars for us, and suddenly we had two more SM projects!

The first car was a 73 model. Unfortunately, during some severe weather, a tree branch fell on this car and caved in the roof. Unfortunately, the owner got depressed and parked the car out in the elements. It did not take long for severe rust to set in. It's too bad really, because this car would have made a cool roadster project! I named this car Pancake.

The second car, this 1972 model, was also parked outside, but the owner had the good sense to position it up off the ground in cinder blocks. SMs tend to sag and sit very low on their adjustable suspension when they are left to sit, which only speeds rust on the underpinnings. This car looks remarkably good, chassis wise. And would you look at that killer patina on the paint! One plan for this car is to get it running and leave the cosmetics scruffy for maximum barn-find effect at car shows. I named this car Beetlejuice.

Pancake was not in good shape, even for a parts car. We had to cut the roof off just to gain access to the interior, which was shot. When we tried to lift the car with jacks, the rusted frame bent right in half. We salvaged what parts we could, including the 3.0 liter engine and transmission as well as the front bumper clip and various interior bits and bobs. It was very sad to see an SM in this state!

Oh, the convertible that could have been! Plenty of creepy crawlys and crtters lived in this poor SM! Please, if you have a rare or exotic car that you can't care for, have the courage to sell it on or give it to someone who can do something with it before it becomes so ruined it isn't good for anything anymore.

The front clip of this SM has now become our new test rig. At least it will find some kind of purpose in the future. Unfortunately, this engine will need a rebuild to be of any use to anyone (other than spare parts).

Even though the interior of the 72 was sun-baked and crispy, the mechanicals had a lot of potential! Here, you can see a rebuilt set of carburetors fitted, as well as plugs and wires and some other spare parts from the other Citroen projects. Thankfully the engine turned freely.

Believe it or not, after 10+ years sitting in a field, IT RUNS! It is a little smoky, but it gets the job done, sort of. It drives too. Check out this video of the smoke machine in motion!

Unfortunately, the smoke from the engine (as well as oil consumption) only got worse with further running. Jim believes the oil control rings on the pistons might be full of gunk. At any rate, it will take some internal exploration to make this engine healthy enough to drive again. So what is in store for this project in the future? This might be an electric car project. Stay tuned for further updates from the electrified future of Beetlejuice.

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