SWelcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Last time around, 64% of you opted for an eternity in the trunk of Coyote Shivers' 1984 Volvo DL rather than having your bodices ripped by Fabio's Lancia, according to the Choose Your Eternity poll. But enough with the pseudo-celebrity cars- today we need to get back to basics, with a return to the very soul of project car hell: France versus Italy! Right now, Italy is in sole possession of the PCH Superpower trophy- which is in the shop with a bad oil leak and a rod knock- thanks to a very one-sided Pantera-versus-Lotus drubbing, but can the Italians hold firm against the Tsar Bomba of Hell Projects? We'll find out!
Remember the Lancia Zagato? Of course not, and you Europeans are probably totally confused about that name slapped on what's obviously some kind of Americanized Beta, but enough of them were sold on these shores that it's now possible to obtain two of them (go here if the ad disappears) for just $1,500. One of them doesn't run, due to a "sticky" clutch arm, while the other one runs just fine, other than a slight problem with the fuel pump ("Sometimes you have to jiggle the fuel pump fuse to get it going"), which shouldn't raise even the tiniest red flag among those with experience working on Italian cars. You got lots of extra parts- in fact, sufficient parts to completely fill the bed of a full-sized pickup truck- and that means you should have enough stuff to get at least one of these fine Italian thoroughbreds back into tip-top shape. Right?
Just because a Citroën SM has never lost a PCH Superpower Challenge, does that make this matchup unfair to Italy? What if the Romans had had that sort of defeatist attitude? Why, they would have allowed those barbarians from the north to conquer them in that case... oh, wait. Anyway, we figure two Lancias might have a hope against a car built by a shotgun marriage of Maserati and Citroën, under the administration of two of the best-organized and efficient organizations the world has ever seen: the French and Italian governments! So here we go! My fellow LeMons judge, Herr Lieberman, has found this 1973 Citroën SM for us, and check out that price! Pick your jaw up off the floor, because we're talking about an SM priced well below four figures, and the auction ends in just a few hours. Unless the reserve is set at some absurd height, this might be the cheapest SM in the country! It doesn't quite run, but it's really, really close; once you deal with the engine- which "may be stuck"- and find a new transmission- which is missing- and then hunt down some new hydropneumatic suspension spheres and some other parts, and then deal with all the stuff that goes wrong when an insanely complicated car sits for close to two decades (a car built by the French and Italian governments, remember), and then fix the rusted-through body panels… well, at that point you'll find that you're only capable of composing really unwieldy run-on sentences full of digressions and tangents and you'll need a good stiff shot of absinthe just to drag yourself out to the garage and face your future, each day, until the warm embrace of eagerly anticipated death enfolds you. OK, fine, we know the SM is going to crush the Zagatos, but vote anyway.