Most people would think that I’d be mad for considering selling my lovely 1988 Lancia Delta HF Integrale, especially as they are so amazingly good to drive and are super-cool in the classic car stakes. But, for me, selling this lovely car represents a big step towards realising my dream of owning a Citroen SM – my all-time favourite car.
My affair with the SM dates back to the mid-1970s, when I was given a Matchbox SM in Bleu Platine to vroom around my bedroom floor. Something about the shape of that car enchanted me – its sleekness, and the way it tapered at the rear, with those semi-enclosed wheels being a particular highlight. In the world of the Cortina MkII my father was driving at the time, this may as well have been a lunar exploration craft.
I then, of course, migrated on to the larger Speedkings model a couple of years later, strangely decorated as a doctor’s emergency vehicle. To that, I added a lovely metallic red version, which I still have to this day. In 1980, I discovered the wonderful world of car books, thanks to my parents buying me the Supercar of the Seventies book – a hard-backed volume of Motor magazine road tests. As lovely as it was, I was rather disappointed my beloved Citroen wasn’t in there.
With my Christmas money, I did, however, buy two books that would influence the direction of my later life, even if I had no idea at the time. Both were by Jeff Daniels, the first being BL: The Truth About The Cars, and the second was the Citroen SM Osprey Autohistory. The former, we all know about, but the latter seriously fed my obsession for the SM further.
Fast forward 25-or-so years to the late-2000s, and I’m writing about cars for a living, and still consider the SM to be my favourite car. That’s despite having worked on CCW, Practical Classics and Octane, jobs which allowed me to drive some truly amazing cars. The ultimate self-indulgence came via Octane, when each member of the team decided to choose their all-time cars for the 100th edition.
While the others went for Bentley, Lamborghini and other supercars, I remained true to the SM. I bagged a drive of a Merak SS-powered version along the Route Napoleon in the South of France via a friend of SM guru Andrew Brodie. And I think at that moment, my life was complete – or it might have been had I thought I could actually buy one myself.
A further five years on and, thanks to a change in circumstances, the prospect of owning an SM has become tantalisingly close again. Thanks to a weak euro, a flat French economy, and my Lancia Delta HF Integrale’s status as a super-cool classic car means that to make the jump to an SM is not as painful as it might have been, even five years ago.
Cars needing work can be yours now for well under £10,000 from France and Italy – something like half of the price of a fair example in the UK. Okay, fair enough, a £10k SM brought in from Europe is going to be a brave purchase, and may well leave me frustrated, angry and penniless – but, considering many people said the same of my Lancia Integrale when I bought it on a whim in 2012, I’m now set on taking the same risk again.
Hope I don’t regret it!