Jan 17, 2021

Haute Future Meets The Future – Part II – Sverre and his Citroën SM

A few months ago, I published the first part of this article. It is impressive the reactions I received from my readers and followers on Instagram about the Citroen SM. It’s a very special car that you don’t see very often on social media as well as in real life. This trip I made to Norway was a great experience, it was very pleasant to be surrounded by such a unique architecture, which is perfectly aligned to photograph the futuristic vision of the SM.

Here I asked Sverre a few questions about his SM:

Sverre, tell me about yourself.

I’m an artist living in Oslo and also crazy about classic cars!

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

When I was little my favorite toy car was a Citroën SM, both in Corgi Toys and Matchbox. I had a lot of toy cars: Jensen FF, Lamborghini Miura, and Iso Grifo, but Citroën SM remained my favorite make of car. I still think that they are some of the greatest cars that have ever been designed.

 How did you come by this Citroën?

I bought this car the year before last – from the president of the Norwegian SM Club himself! I have owned this Citroën SM for two years and it has been lots of fun. My SM was sold new in 1972 in California originally but was exported back to Europe in 1991 – to Sweden. Its previous owner modified it back to European styling – that is from round to the original boxy headlights behind the glass. The car has a three-liter carburetor engine, with 180 horsepower that takes off pretty quickly. Of course, it has a progressive servo and a unique level of comfort. Like sitting on a flying carpet. To drive a Citroën SM is a boy’s dream fulfilled, and I’m always happy when I sit behind the wheel. 

 

How big is the SM Club in Norway?

Norway is a relatively small country and therefore there are fairly few Citroën SMs. But we still have a country-wide club involving everyone who owns or is interested in the car. The club was launched in 2003 and has 40 very enthusiastic car owners and members. The goal is to promote interest and increase knowledge of SM, together with creating a pleasant and inclusive club environment. With expanded insight into parts availability domestically and internationally, it’s much easier for members to restore or maintain an SM in good condition. The club’s members are very active and are not afraid to drive their cars.

When I was photographing the car, I noticed some patina details. I’m sure you wanted to keep it like that right?

The car is in really good condition, both cosmetically and technically! The paint and chrome are actually perfect – like, it was when it came out of the factory. No rust, either. But I like that some details in the interior have that charming patina. Whether it’s the leather seats that are slightly worn or the dash. It is, after all, nearly a fifty-year-old car, so I prefer that traces of a lived life remain on it.

As an artist, what detail do you think makes the SM special?

I love the beautiful shapes. Citroën SM is outré but in an elegant way. It’s exotic, fast, comfortable. For me, the Citroën SM becomes a journey into a lost epoch when the business of making cars was less streamlined. At that time, car designers had free rein and could compose extravagant vehicles with futuristic looks, hydraulic suspension, boundary-pushing solutions, and comfort for miles. It seems that Citroën at that time were more concerned with artistic ingenuity and creativity than profitability. There was prestige in being progressive, in creating the future. With the SM Citroën wanted to make a futuristic luxury coupe where everything would be ahead of its time. Simply put top-shelf French from the 1970s!

Boundary breaking was a French superlative, and pushing boundaries is a proud part of French culture. I believe that people who choose, and chose such curvy creatures with airy forms are especially concerned with form, design, and possibly possess a touch of cultural history deep down. The enclosed glass front that houses moving headlights are among the futuristic elements I get a kick out of. I can see that the car’s design takes its inspiration from Art déco, the German architecture and design firm Bauhaus and the French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier (1887-1965). The interior is a refined space age. It is asymmetrical, clocks and instruments have an oval shape. Even though I had the car for a while, I’m always finding buttons and knobs and things that are new for me; there is always something new to discover.

Is this car a source of inspiration for you and your work?

No, that might be taking it a bit far. But my choice of Citroën SM is based perhaps on my will to set myself against the conventional. It is said that a Citroën is just as complicated and intricate under the hood as its owner is in his or her brain. This is also an expression of excess: to drive an SM is the culmination of a childhood dream. It most certainly craziness for some, but I don’t think that rigidity and abstinence are matters of life and death. 

Many of our followers are not car experts, could you explain to us how the Hydropneumatic suspension works?

The hydropneumatic suspension system is driven by a pump that is driven in turn by the engine via a belt, just like a dynamo. After the pump, there is an accumulator, which provides a uniform maintenance of high pressure in the system. This pressure gives power to the suspension system, to the power steering, to the brake system, and to the control of the clutch and gearbox. The hydropneumatic suspension provides a unique distribution of weight in the car. A lot of people probably think first and foremost of the great comfort in driving derived from the hydropneumatic suspension, where one gets almost a feeling of floating, as though on a magic carpet, over the bumps in the road.

Tell me about the color, I think it’s pretty special I’ve never seen one like it. What is it exactly?

I’m glad you noticed. This is an extremely rare color that only came out in 1972. The color «Rouge De Grenade» hints at the fire red seeds in a pomegranate, but also lead one’s thoughts in the direction of an expensive, heavy red wine. 

This is also the color palette of a lost time. Citroën was the grand tour car of rich jet setters and eccentric cultural personalities in the 1970s. I like the mystical shimmer of this era, and imagine well-attired men in bell bottoms and beautiful women with elegant Hermes scarves, Louis Vuitton suitcases in the trunk/boot who were about to drive from Paris down to the French Riviera in class and style.

What do you enjoy the most about your car?

The 3-liter V6 engine from Maserati makes the car both sporty and fast, but it is its elegance that is the essence. Great style and flair, fantastic design, and that super strong motor!

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

Fortunately, there is a lot of knowledge of these cars in the club arena. Any weaknesses that might have come with these cars have long since been uncovered and can be improved without great difficulty. Interest in the Citroën SM is only on the rise, and on the international market prices are climbing!

Follow Sverre and learn more about him on Instagram and his website:

@sverre_malling

www.sverremalling.com

P.S. Very soon he will have a solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in London from 23rd of January until 27th February.

1 Comment

  1. Name Roberto

    Comment l’auto che ho sempre voluto e mai potuto avere… Fantastica in questo colore ;mai visto prima complimenti auto stupenda 👍😉😬

    Reply

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