Robert McLeod wrote in to say that he had just watched the latest episode of “American Pickers”. They visited the home of the son of a former GM stylist, Henri de Ségur Lauve. The episode, aired April 24, 2017 on History Canada, has Henri’s son John Lauve showing a boxed large-scale model of an SM, which looked like a Citroën promo item. He states that “This is a model of one of the cars that my father designed”. But Bob thought that it was styled by Robert Opron while he worked for Citroën.
In fact, we interviewed Robert Opron at Rendezvous when he visited in 2004 and did an article in the Winter 2006 edition of Citroënthusiast where he spoke about his role in designing the SM, GS and CX. Opron spoke of is his work but did not mention Henri de Ségur Lauve.
Wanting a definitive answer, Bob did a Google search; the results from most sites saying that Robert Opron styled the car, in-house at Citroën. But a few other sites popped up counteracting that:
Here, on this reasonably accurate British web site, the shape of the SM is attributed to Henri de Ségur Lauve:: http://totallycars.info/citroen-sm/
This archived newspaper from Grosse Pointe (Detroit) in 1991 states that after de Ségur Lauve left GM in 1957, he: “became a consultant designer with Citroën-Maserati [sic], where he spent as many years as he had with GM. He became affiliated with the European automaker after he was asked by the French consul general to be an interpreter when the head of the car company visited the U.S.”
The article also says: “Last year , two of Lauve’s car designs – the 1948 Buick Roadmaster and the 1972 Citroën
SM – took top awards at the Eyes of the Classics [car show in Grosse Point].”
Another site maybe starts to explain the real story: https://driventowrite.com/2016/05/09/1973-citroen-sm/
“The car styling was by Head of Design, Robert Opron, working with independent design consultant Henri Lauve de Segur and, without any hint of retro, it shows itself a conceptual descendant to the pre-War French streamliners.”
On a Brazilian web site, talking about the GS, there is this paragraph: “Based on a sketch presented by Henri de Ségur-Lauve, in 1964, the technicians, with Robert Opron at the helm of the team, began to work at a dizzying pace, even in the famous French May 1968.”
And finally, there is this article in the Dutch SM Club newsletter reviewing a book called “Andre in Amerika”. Part of the review notes: “For example, a part is dedicated to American designer Henry de Ségur Lauve, who appears to have worked for Chapron and Citroën. Is there something interesting for SM lovers?”
Apparently there is! Though Robert Opron was in charge of Citroën’s styling in the era of the SM, GS and CX, there was outside influence from Henri de Ségur-Lauve who may well have contributed the genesis of the design of these vehicles to Opron and his in-house design team at Citroën .
Thank-you for shedding some light onto this Bob!