The brown-gold Citroën SM you see in the photo above belongs to one Alex Roy, and I had the extreme pleasure of driving it earlier this year. It is an unfathomably wonderful machine in every way. It was also a complete and utter failure in America.
I can love the SM and still understand why it didn’t take off here. According to Alex, whose father used to import these things (among other cars, as SM-only importing wasn’t exactly a viable business model) the SM was the most expensive new car you could buy in the U.S. when it came out.
And despite its disco-spaceship looks, its trick suspension and mellifluous engine, it was equally expensive to run. You need a Maserati mechanic to service the motor and a Citroën mechanic to work on everything else. As we say today, ain’t nobody got time for that. The SM just didn’t appeal to mainstream Americans’ tastes. Hell, French cars in general didn’t; we tended to gravitate toward the luxury, practicality, speed and sturdiness the Germans offered instead.
But as they say in France, c’est la vie. Sometimes amazing foreign cars fail in the U.S. What are some other examples of that?
Photo credit DW Burnett/PUPPYKNUCKLES
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