Thursday, 5 July 2012

Citroën SM Opera Présidentielle

The Citroën DS was the car that saved Charles de Gaulle; an assassination attempt in which one of his tyres was shot out was thwarted when, thanks to the hydropneumatic suspension, they just scarpered on three wheels. So Citroëns were a safe bet for French presidents...
The SM, produced between 1970-75, was the pride of France, representing all that was good about French engineering and design. It also had a little Italian supercar flair thanks to its Maserati V6. An obvious choice, then, for Georges Pompidou's state wheels... of course, a man of his standing would require something a little special, so revered coachbuilder Henri Chapron was commissioned to build this, the SM Opera Présidentielle, in 1973. Featuring a longer wheelbase, a couple of extra doors and a convertible roof, it was the perfect carriage for visiting dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, its lower gearing ideal for cruising past the adoring Parisian crowds, while it wasn't too flashy: it was a car the French people could be proud of - classy, unique, beautiful, and tremendously desirable. And so it remains today.

Photos by SuckSqueezeBangBlow at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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