1970, Paris, Palais de l’Elysée

Imagine for one moment you are Georges Pompidou, the newly elected president of France back in 1970.

You are the leader of a country with marvelous innovation;

  • The Concorde plane test flights just started, and soon you will be able to fly to New York at more than Mach 2.
  • The TGV fast train studies just started and 200 MPH on french rails are in reach.
  • Citroën just bought Maserati and the new SM grand touring 140 mph coupe is selling well.
  • You are also the leader, with Germany and Italy, of the European CEE, with plans to enlarge to the United Kingdom.
Georges Pompidou

Do you miss something?  Yes, indeed…  

Modern President’s Cars

The Elysée Palace garage is full of old fashioned parade vehicles inherited from the Général Charles de Gaulle — most of them built on Traction and DS platforms.

You think they do not represent the new France; fast ambitious, efficient…
And you are awaiting with impatience — a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II. You know it will be very important to attract the United Kingdom to join Europe.

You know everything has to be spot-on!  Even the very visible open car that both of you will be on display in through the streets of Paris.  

The 2 SM Présidentielle

The Elysée fleet manager has to solve a requisite:   He needs a fast powerful car, with four doors, a long wheelbase and an open top to parade in Paris.  And thanks to Citroën — the basis for this fast car exists in the SM, powered by a refined Maserati V6.

The “Grand Carrossier” Henri Chapron has already derived from the SM a wonderful modern long wheelbase saloon called Opera…  

So now at least, french industry has a basis for a Prestige automobile, very stylish, very french, with a nice European touch, and an Italian engine.  Now, could it be further transformed to be a grand convertible limousine and the ultimate parade vehicle?

Henri Chapron was thus entrusted with the study and assembly of 2 long wheelbase, 4-door cabrio SMs.

His team had to cope with many difficulties;

  • Long wheelbase with no roof
  • Very long soft top
  • Large comfortable rear seats, but still accommodating the said soft top in a well styled recess and cover
  • Jumps seats for aids or body guards
  • And all the mechanical consequences of this work; longer exhausts, brake lines and revised suspension

The 2 cars were ready on time for the state visit. 

Queen Elizabeth II state visit Paris – May 1972

(Since the 1920s, Mr Chapron and his teams were dealing with complex challenges from demanding clients. The most elegant and classical Delahaye, Delage, Talbot… went through the doors of the Levallois workshop, not far away from the major Citroën factory, and not far away either from the small factory which was assembling SM bodies, in a western Paris suburb.)

These 2 SM Présidentielle were used well into the ’90’s by France’s presidents and state guests.

French President Jacques Chirac in 1995.
Pope Jean-Paul II visit to Paris – May 1980.

  
They are now considered part of France’s national treasure collection, as is La Joconde or the Castle of Versailles.

A third car ?

Understanding he would never get one of these two cars, a Citroën enthusiast decided to have one made. To attempt such a feat, he spent a few years gathering essential Items;

  • Blueprints from Chapron
  • Body masters used for the original cars
  • A proper SM “donor” coupé…
  • French State symbolic items
  • And even a Chapron order number

Then he had the work started…

With the help of a prominent restorer, he had the project well underway when other complications leaded him to sell the car, still unfinished.  Fortunately this third SM 4-door cabrio, was bought by a wealthy and dedicated enthusiast from the south of France.

The car today is absolutely complete and ready to go, and after having enjoyed it for many years, he has decided to sell it due to his retirement from the transport industry.

This automobile is striking in many ways: 

  • The body lines are fluid
  • Paint is very bright
  • The interior is magnificent
  • All the brightwork, made from stainless steel, is highly polished
  • It has been well maintained since a full overhaul during the replication process, and the owner will have it serviced again before delivery.

It shows one main difference from the 2 cars from the Elysée fleet;  It was painted in a slightly lighter Citroën shade of grey, so nobody can pretend later it is one of the originals.   

This very special SM can be yours.  Price is, of course, apropos to its distinction. 

For those with a discerning desire to acquire it, a detailed picture file is available.  

View by appointment by contacting: mmb.sm@orange.fr

2 comments

  1. I know the car, it was sell by auction, that time I did not have the opportunity, may be now, what iOS the asking price ?

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