Saturday, October 2, 2010

Just add V6 and stir

Motoring history loves its glorious failures, but for many Citroen fans the idea that their stunning, purring, sleek, growling Citroen SM is a member of the Glorious Failures Hall of Fame is a travesty. "What failure?" they ask. Well, failure to sell is one thing that propels any technically fascinating car straight into the infamous Hall of Fame, but whatever your opinion of the Citroen SM, few would disagree that it's a beautiful thing.

Wow. Love that body shape. Fortunately for me when I was developing an
interest in all automotive things French, there was an SM in the same suburb
as me, and so every now and then I'd get to see it purring along.
This is an IXO 1:43 model of it, and it'll do me.

Apart from the glorious body shape, the other main thing that everyone wants to talk about when they discuss the SM is its Maserati V6 engine. So, I went trawling through You Tube to find a video that gives a good sense of how the engine sounds, and how the car goes when you push it hard. So I found this nice video of a chap in an SM doing two laps of the Goodwood circuit in the UK. The owner says (in the comments section) that it has a standard air filter and silencer – so the SM sounds great then! And watch for his little diversion into the grass at the end of the first lap, when he fails to negotiate the chicane slowly enough. Rotten things, chicanes. My sympathies go to him, but no harm was done.

What the hell, let's have another SM video, a completely different one. This is the Rallye du Maroc, with lots of other French cars looking good on the dusty roads of Morocco. Don't worry if you can't understand the German language commentary, it doesn't matter. The second half of the video has some great footage of a Citroen SM negotiating rocky washouts, sand dunes and worse. Not a bad old rally car, either, the SM.

I thought I'd try to upgrade my diecast model photography with some tarmac below the cars (actually grey paper) and some cloudy blue skies behind (one of my wife's holiday snaps from the tropics). And for my first attempt I thought the beautiful Citroen SM would be the perfect subject.

First try. Lighting is a bit crude, but it's not bad for halogen desk lamps.
This IXO model is quite a nice one. It's actually doubly nice for me, because
this is the colour of Citroen SM I used to see on the streets back in the 70s.
A bronze SM is what I had my heart set on when I went model hunting for one.
Finally, I should finish off this little posting on the SM to say that apart from slow sales, there's no way this car could be considered a failure. It was a magnificent success of a car to drive, judging by the opinions of those who drove it at the time. And it did something that only the great cars manage to do – it inspired people.

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