1972 Citroen SM
Year of manufacture1972
1973 Citroën SM Custom Pickup
Chassis No. 00SD0414
1972 Citroën SM Land Speed Racer
Chassis No. SB 5805
2001 Special Construction Car Carrier Trailer
VIN. CA 895735
Citroën’s incredible penchant for pushing the automotive technology envelope delivered handsomely with its DS line, which continued drawing accolades well into the late-1960s. Desiring a more sporting model, Citroën purchased troubled Italian automaker Maserati in 1968, and chief designer Robert Opron was tasked with designing a two-door coupe that would be powered by Maserati’s proven V-6 engine and known as the SM. While awarded with the 1972 Motor Trend Car of the Year award, sales were variable, and the NHTSA bumper-height requirements for 1974 spelled the end of the SM after just five years of production.
The trio of incredible Citroën-based custom creations offered here all stem from the minds of Jerry and Sylvia Hathaway. In 1972, Jerry was an alignment technician at Irv White Buick in Los Angeles when the dealership added Citroën to its lineup. Jerry ended up smitten with the cars and started acquiring parts, eventually opening Citroën-factory-supported SM World Ltd. in 1976. From that point on, Hathaway was the place for Citroën SM parts, restoration, and repair in the US, and a global authority on the marque.
SM World client Jon McKibben, an experienced land speed racer, mentioned to Hathaway that the SM would be an ideal platform for land speed record racing due to its incredibly aerodynamic shape. Shortly thereafter an SM that had been slated to be parted out was turned into a race car. The SM was treated to an incredible restoration and built into an impeccably prepared land speed racer. Initially fitted with a normally aspirated 3.0-liter with 48IDA Weber carburetors, it produced 250 hp, good enough for 139.7 mph on its first outing at El Mirage and then 151.2 at Bonneville in 1979. The SM then received two AiResearch turbochargers that added 20 psi of boost to the Maserati engine, and sights were set on 200 mph.
After years of adversity, mostly due to inclement weather, Jerry was able to crack into the 200 MPH Club in 1985 and firmly position the SM World machine as the world’s fastest Citroën – a record it is believed to still hold. During the 1987 season Sylvia joined the 200 MPH Club with a qualifying run of 206.446 and a record run of 202.3 mph. This historic run set a class speed record that stood for 23 years.
Sometime in the 1980s, the Hathaway’s truck and trailer used to haul the race car was stolen. While most would have shopped for a replacement, Jerry used lessons learned through his many years of working with Citroëns to come up with a much more interesting solution. Another SM was sourced and turned into a pickup truck which became their tow vehicle. A custom fifth-wheel-style trailer was then built that utilized Citroën suspension and carried its own battery for the hydraulic pumps, essentially becoming self-sufficient. Both the truck and trailer are independently height-adjustable, allowing the race car to be easily loaded and unloaded. Over the years the pickup and trailer have garnered as much attention as the race car, and you can imagine the stir “The Rig” – as the group of three was aptly named by the Hathaways – caused during its two successful cross-country road trips.
In the years since its retirement from racing, “The Rig” has been shown at many prestigious shows, including Retromobile in Paris in 2003 (race car only), and in the country’s top museums, including stints at the Petersen and Mullin museums. The internet is filled with articles about the trio and the accompanying file includes numerous articles from overseas publications as well. The pickup and race car remain in running condition, and though not used regularly and likely requiring servicing before extended use, arrived at Gooding & Company’s facility in Los Angeles under the pickup’s own power after a 25-mile drive. Included in the sale are a coffee table built from the record-breaking Maserati V-6 engine and a fire suit used by Sylvia Hathaway.
While it could be easy to cast these vehicles as oddities, it is really the collective quality of all three that makes them stand out. Crafted to take advantage of Citroën’s genius in new and inventive ways, “The Rig” is more than the expression of a dream. Each piece is a functional and purpose-built tool that could only be created by a mind deeply in tune with the marque and its strengths. Easily the talk of any event for which it is eligible, this triumvirate will surely provide its next caretaker with center stage.