Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Silent Flaccidity

A pair of Franco-Italian relics from Citroen's hydro-pneumatic empire sit quietly awaiting their fate.
Citroen bought Maserati in 1968, hanging on to their Gallic independence until filing for bankruptcy in 1974.
Optimistic 1960's space-age elegance still apparent despite years of neglect.
I've been lucky enough to witness fully operational Citroen SM's in the wild, first in in N.Y.C. and then S.F., where the quirky and sophisticated SM seemed somewhat at home. Stumbling across these derelict  examples here in Toledo, I experienced the the same feelings of confused elation I imagine UFO-conspiracy kooks feel when they happen upon the remote scrap-pile of a residential bathroom remodel gone bad they're just sure is a UFO crash site.

The hydro-pneumatic suspension system that permits the SM to navigate crater-strewn streets and highways with such aplomb and neutrality also provides for the vehicle's variable ride-height capabilities, the bodywork often settling merely inches off the ground while at rest.

A total of 12,920 SM's were produced from 1970-'75, including 2,400 exported to North America in 1972-'73.

Where: Dorr St. near Holland Sylvania.
Best Case Scenario: These are simply parts cars, and a fully-functional Citroen SM is at this very moment plying the streets of Toledo, swallowing Fiat 500-sized potholes with indifference and wowing kiddies and jaded bystanders alike with impromptu curbside displays of automotive-suspension calisthenics. 
Worst Case Scenario: After completing an arduous restoration of concours quality, the formerly carefree enthusiast becomes a demanding pecksniff and begins to unravel with the sad realization that his meticulous grande routière will never experience the intoxicating effervescence of  genuine French air and hydraulic fluid simultaneously escaping from numerous locations along the vehicle's undercarriage while circling Avenue des Champs-Elysees during la vendage. Crushed by this glaring inadequacy, narcotics become the owners only form of relief, eventually abandoning the vehicles here during an opiate-fueled stupor.