Aug 20, 2020

Haute Future Meets The Future – Part I – Robert and his Citroën SM

One of the cities that always caught my attention in the Scandinavian countries was Oslo. I always saw it as a city with a very impressive architecture. The world of Instagram always helps me connect with incredible people in every country I visit, in this opportunity I met Robert and his wonderful SM. Let’s say it in a better-known definition the Citroën SM is the Concorde for the road, powered by Maserati.

For the shooting, I decided to look for a very futuristic location to combine the present with what was once the future. This story will have two parts with two owners who are friends, same car, different locations, same city, and of course the same theme. Let’s start with the story of Robert and his SM! 

Robert, tell me about yourself.

If age is important, I´m 48. Living in Oslo, my profession is Industrial design.

I´m a smalltown guy from the Norwegian west-coast however, I grew up close to some of the best driving roads in the country – rocky shores, white beaches, deep green fjords, snowy mountains. This is what I return to for unwinding and rooting myself again when the city creeps up too close on me.

Tell me how your passion for cars began and why especially for Citroen?

I´ve been dreaming and sketching up cars as long as I can remember. I was going to be a car designer – who wasn´t? At the age of 12, I was allowed to drive in a farm field for the first time with one of my cousins – I was hooked. The car? A Mazda 929 Wagon that belonged to my uncle. Rear-wheel drive, my sister and two other cousins in the rear seat, two buckets of milk in the boot. Slippery slope. Huge fun. Milk spilled all over the boot floor. My passion for Citroën started when my dad arrived home with his first one. A 1974 GS Break in the color Bleu Camargue. I was six years old. There was only one Citroën in my village before, and that was a 2CV. The GS stood out like something from another planet – it fell asleep to the ground at night and lifted again when started. Boys were fighting to get a ride in it when my dad picked me up from football practice. I started collecting brochures and car magazines – and later – as my interests turned towards design and engineering it was the perfect combination of these professions that kept Citroën in the front of my head for a long time.

How did you come by this Citroen?

A guy that I know showed up in it right in front of my office window back in 2006. He had just imported it from Sweden and found the model to be a bit too complex for his taste. We decided to swap cars – I drove a near-perfect CX 2400 IE Prestige at the time.

Are French cars common in Norway?

Not really. The norm is German and Japanese. That said, these days the number of SM´s per capita is one of the highest in the world (Norway has a small population). In the years of production, however, Citroën managed to sell only 4 cars in Norway.

Did you restore it or was it already in good condition when you bought it?

I have done quite a lot with the visuals. Repaint in my favorite SM color Gris Nacre 12 years ago, retrimming the interior in original black leather with correct grain and sewing pattern. New carpets in original color/details. Structurally and mechanically is a different story. The car has a complete history file from 1976 to date and has turned out to be very faithful, leaving me stranded by the roadside only twice in 13 years. (a broken throttle arm last summer – heavy right foot I guess… and a top bolt coming loose from its seat in the engine block in my first year of ownership). Reading all the stories of catastrophic reliability of the Maserati engine and faulty hydro pneumatics would lead you to expect more pain than pleasure. My experience is: don´t believe everything you read or hear as the only truth. People tend to write when experiencing difficulties. When there´s nothing to complain about they are silent. I´ve been taking the SM for longer journeys every year, and honestly, it´s the best car I´ve ever had. I believe in regular use and maintenance.

I remember that I discovered your Instagram through an amazing trip you took during the winter, with a few amazing cars, you usually use your car for long trips?

The tour you refer to is an event that has been held 10 years in a row. Last year it was canceled, but this September we´re doing it again. It´s the Gentleman Drivers Weekend. It looked like winter because in late May / early June there are still snowcapped mountains despite the spring blossom and dry tarmac. Perfect conditions. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 thing this year we are making it an autumn fling. Great fall colors in the mountains, the low-hanging sun creating fantastic lighting in the mountainsides. We might experience closed off-road sections due to snowfall – but it is still too early for salt on the roads – thankfully.

What detail do you think makes your car special?

The SM is quite special in the first place. My car – being an early production number – has a very rare first type of lower rear bumper. It has now rubber trimming. In my humble opinion, it frames the rear light cluster much more nicely than the later type introduced in April 1971. I guess Paris traffic (reckless city parking) was too tough to keep it clean – so they introduced protection to keep insurance at a decent level

What about the yellow lights, are they allowed in Norway normally?

They are allowed on classics I believe. It has never been an issue on any of my cars with such.

Are there any quotes related to cars that you want to share? 

Don´t take everything you read as the truth. Go out and make your own experiences.

Follow Robert on Instagram: @rmyrene

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