The Citroën SM is a high-performance coupé produced by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1970 to 1975. The SM placed third in the 1971 European Car of the Year contest, trailing its stablemate Citroën GS, and won the 1972 Motor Trend Car of the Year award in the U.S. in 1972. The SM was Citroën's flagship vehicle, competing with other high-performance GTs of the time from manufacturers such as Jaguar, Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Porsche. France had not had a production vehicle in this segment after World War II, except for the export oriented Chrysler V8 engine Facel Vega in the late 1950s. The thriving French luxury car industry was decimated by post-World War II puissance fiscale regulation, which has hamstrung French manufacturers for decades.
The SM combines many unusual and innovative features, some of which are only just becoming commonplace on cars of today. It borrows heavily from the innovations introduced on the DS, by including hydro-pneumatic (oleopneumatic) self-leveling suspension, and self-leveling lights that swiveled with the steering (except in the USA where these were illegal at the time). With its distinctly modernist influence, the interior styling of the SM is as dramatic as the exterior. The small oval steering wheel is matched by oval gauges. The manual shift lever 'boot' is a highly stylized chrome gate. The seats are highly adjustable buckets with centre padding composed of many individual 'rolls'. High-quality materials are used throughout. The bonnet is aircraft grade aluminum, while the external bright work is stainless steel, rather than ‘cheaper’ chrome (except for "plastichrome" "SM" trim at the rear base of the rain gutter). In 1970, it was a car of the future and the fastest front-wheel-drive car, with a factory-quoted top speed of 220 km/h (140 mph), and independent tests achieving as much as 235 km/h (146 mph). It was an example of the car as a symbol of optimism and progressive technology, similar to the SM's contemporary, the Concorde aircraft. The SM's design placed eleventh on Automobile Magazine 's 2005 "100 Coolest Cars" listing.
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