– by George Dyke
It was 1970 when the SM was introduced and sold in the North American market. Last year at Rendezvous, Dave Hume came up to me and said that he really wanted to do something special for SM’s 40th anniversary next year; – Perhaps a drive to New Jersey to the location where their east coast operations were based. Maybe meet there with a group of SM owners and then travel to Saratoga Springs, New York. I mentioned to Dave that a few months before we had been contacted by Jim Berry. His late father, James O. Berry Jr., had been the east coast dealer manager for Citroën in the 1960’s and early 70’s. Based in Buffalo, New York, James had not only delivered many new cars to Citroën dealers, but also amassed a considerable amount of marketing material. And he was instrumental in the organization of Citroën’s auto show presence in New York and Chicago. So much so that he enlisted his father’s (Jim’s grandfather’s) help to create plaques for the cars on display.
I organized an outing to Buffalo in November 2008 where we met Jim and browsed through much of the literature and signage his father had squirrelled away. We came across two hand-painted SM signs, the size of European license plates, with the SM logo (in gold) on a black plastic backing. These were used for the SM on display at the New York and Chicago auto shows. Jim also had the original Motor Trend “car of the Year” award that was bestowed on the SM in 1972. It was impressive and nicely framed. Another tidbit of information that came to light is that many of the promotional shots used in the North American SM literature were taken in the Buffalo area. The shot of the SM with the sailboats in the background was taken at the Buffalo Yacht Club, where James was a member. And the the shots of the SM on the beach with the two girls wearing bikinis and walking two horses were taken at Crystal Beach on the Canadian side of Lake Erie, just 15 minutes from downtown Buffalo. The story of the girls was amusing. James drove the cars over to the Canadian dock of the Buffalo Yacht Club, which was located near the beach. As usual, when he pulled up to get a photo, employees of the yacht club made quite a fuss over the car. He explained that he wanted to take a “sexy shot” of the car on the beach. Hearing that, two women who worked at the yacht club said that they had two nice looking daughters who could fill the bill as eye candy. A couple of phone calls later, two lovely bikini- clad lasses appeared. There was a local horse farm nearby so two horses were borrowed for the shot as well. Could James have been obsessed with tying the SM to the iconic Deux Cheveaux? (I like to think so.) The shot became one of the legendary photos of North American SM.
I said to Dave Hume that maybe the spot to meet would be in Buffalo. We could gather at the same spot on the Buffalo side where the initial marina photos were taken. And we could ask Jim to join us and bring along the Motor Trend Car of the Year award! And so it came to be that on the morning of June 17, 2010, we found ourselves standing amongst 11 Citroën SMs for a unique photo op at the Erie Basin Marina. Paul Bourse had travelled from North Carolina to be there. Others, like John Maddock, drove in the other direction from Rendezvous travelling from Rochester. The weather cooperated and we posed with great pride where 40 years prior, SM history was made. From there we took off along the New York State Thruway. A convoy of sleek SMs zipping in and out of mundane traffic and generating great interest. And all this adventure *before* the great activities organized by the driveshesaid group during three fun days of Rendezvous at Saratoga Springs!
View a full Photo Gallery of the event here.
Group photo – 40th Anniversary of the SM – Buffalo, NY – June 17, 2010
Front row (from left to right): Charlie Voit, George Klein, Jim Berry, John Maddock, Paul Bourse, Russ Theus, David Hume, Phil Devingt.
Back row (left to right): Peter Bandy, Angus MacDougald, Ed Grant, George Dyke