At the request of Georges Pompidou, President of France from 1969 to 1974, two convertible SM Limousines were built by Henri Chapron Coachworks and made their debut on September 15, 1972 for the official visit to Paris of Queen Elizabeth II.
The two Presidential SMs bear the registrations 2-PR-75 and 3-PR-75. The letters “PR” mean Presidency of the Republic and 75 the department of Paris. (Registration 1-PR-75 is that of the Presidential Citroën DS built for General Charles de Gaulle).
The two SM Presidentielles are property of the French State. As of May 24, 2023, one is kept in the garage of the Palais de l’Elysée (the 2-PR-75), the second is exhibited at The Citroën & DS Conservatory in Aulnay-Sous-Bois, near Paris. In May, Renaud Roubaudi of Petites Observations Automobiles, got a chance to drive in 3-PR-75 and examine its features with Denis Huille who manages The Citroën & DS Conservatory (aka Le Conservatoire Citroën).
The SM Presidential is a 5.60 meters in length and weighs 1780 kg. The exclusive colour is a metallic gray green called “Black Tudor”. The Presidential SM has a standard Maserati V6 2.7L engine but the gearbox has been fitted with a lower 1st gear ratio to enable it to drive at a “walking pace” during parades. The cooling system is reinforced in order to better evacuate heat at low speeds during such low-speed journeys.
The driver’s seat has reduced travel to leave more room for rear passengers and to accommodate the central jump seat at the rear. The modification also required the front seats to be pushed aside and the elbow room to be reduced. (Note that the two front seats do not have head restraints so as not to obscure the view of rear passengers). Compared to a “normal” SM, the handbrake is shifted from the centre console to the side of the driver’s seat and the same goes for the height adjustment of the suspension which switches from left to right of the driver. Windows are electric and the rear passengers benefit from a cigarette lighter and an ashtray in the door panels.
Facing the rear passengers, there is a jump seat in the centre which folds out to seat an interpreter if necessary. A clock is inserted above the folding seat. Two concealable document holders are placed in the backs of the front seats. On each side of the central grab bar which allows you to stand while driving, that is also fitted with a light on each side containing 5 bulbs. Under the rear seats, there is foot lighting on each side.
The lined soft top can be operated electrically with the help of the hydraulic system or manually. There is a large switch on the central console with the inscription: “Caution, unbuckle the cross member before ordering the opening of the cowling”. (Curiously, the inscription “hood and open” is in English).
The name of coachbuilder Henri Chapron is inscribed on the two front fenders. There is also the manufacturer’s plate on the left front door sill (front passenger seat) with the inscription: Henri Chapron – Paris – Levallois. (Henri Chapron Coachworks were located in Levallois near Paris).
In the center of the hubcap of each wheel, we find in a circle with blue, white and red colours. At the front and in the centre of the car there is a cockade which is fixed on the bumper. The cockade lights up from the inside, its ignition is controlled from the passenger compartment.
The SM Presidentielle is equipped with two flag holders at the front. The French flag is mounted on the right (driver’s side) and the left side receives the flag of the country of the guest personality. (Note that the French flag can only be used while driving only if the President of France is on board the car.
Watch the 27 minute video (in French) of Renaud’s drive and discussion with Denis Huille: