LeMon of the Week III

citroen_smBack to France in just two short weeks? Is Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife double-barrel smoking hot? And why you ask? Because this week our LeMon is a rusty 1973 Citroen SM. According to some of those car cognesceti types (hi mom!), the Citroen SM is one of the very greatest cars ever made. If not the greatest. To more rational, reasonable and logic-based types, the Sport Maserati by Citroen is a five-alarm fire from which you must run, run, run! Maybe it’s one of the three timing chains that need to be tuned every 5,000 feet miles, or the fact that you’re getting a mix of French hydropneumatic suspension and late 60s Italian engine technology. But never mind any of that. Just think of all the advantages such a fine piece of machinery offers your LeMons team.

First of all, speaking for myself and fellow LeMons Supreme Court Justice Martin, the judges will love you. Like seriously fawn and coo as if little babies all over you. Showing up with a rollcage ready SM proves that not only do you “get it,” but that you’re one of us. In fact, we’d probably just look the other way rather than fret about this SM’s $750 purchase price. Why so pricey? Well, this baby doesn’t have the wimpy old 170 hp 2.7-liter 90-degree V6 shared with the Maserati Merek. No siree, Francois! This particular belle has a muscular 180 hp 3.0-liter 90-degree V6 shared with… uh… a Ligier JS2! One of very few downsides we can think of is the ad says the engine is seized. But that’s nothing that nine thousand lifetimes of going to Pick-n-Pull couldn’t remedy .

Also, the transmission is not currently in the car. What’s one more lifetime weekend? No big whoop. Just think of how that lightweight aircraft aluminum hood and self-centering DIRAVI steering will crush those boring old Fox Mustangs and whatever other dull, non-European Gran Turismo crap cars the lesser teams bring to the race. Makes your heart flutter, non? Now, in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that the tres beautiful mustard car pictured above at the 2007 France and Italy show should be thought of as a best case scenario after case. The actual car in question…needs a makeover. And there are one or two other issues that are plaguing this SM like locusts standing between you and eternal French racing glory:

  • The windshield is cracked.
  • It’s been stored outside since approximately Reagan’s first term.
  • France and Italy together in one car, connected by multiple timing chains and hydropneumatics.

But that’s it. Er, that’s it besides the hydraulic components, some of which (the tell-tale green spheres) seem to be absent. Can you taste the nickels yet?

Disclaimer: A mild mannered motoring journalist by day, Jonny Lieberman dons the robe and econo-barrister wig as Judge Jonny on the 24 Hours of LeMons racing circuit. Together with Justice Murilee Martin they comprise the LeMons Supreme Court.


  1. something_unique_and_descriptive says

    I’m thinking there needs to be a “badassedness factor” bonus that could, at least partially, negate any budgetary indiscretions on interesting cars.

    Similarly a “Seriously, another one?” penalty for under-themed E30s, Miatas, non-Lincoln Fox bodies, and Camaros.

  2. acarr260 says

    I assume that one successful lap in a Citroen SM would automatically result in winning the Index of Affluency award. Right? Because otherwise you would have to be a masochistic MF.

  3. Alan says

    Wow, my parents had one of those when I was a kid. Nice car when it was running but even the Maserati dealer wouldn’t touch it (“That’s the Merak engine, we don’t work on those!”). Kinda leisurely in the acceleration department too because it was geared for a top speed of 140. Not to mention it appeared to be engineered by space aliens (inboard disc brakes, 1.2 turns lock-to-lock steering and this little black mushroom on the floor that was the brake pedal). Could certainly be a hoot for LeMons but considering it’s taking all our wrenching talent just to get our 505 into something approaching racing condition (ie: getting to run for 5 minutes straight without throwing a fault code) I can’t imagine the superhuman efforts it would take to get that Citroen on the track. If someone does manage to do it I will salute them though!