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A 200 MPH Citroen SM drops in on the Mullin Museum, for a limited time

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A Citroën SM pickup, towing a Citroën SM-suspension trailer, holding a Citroën SM Bonneville record holder. Photos courtesy Mullin Museum.

The path to Bonneville’s 200 MPH Club typically doesn’t involve a front-drive French coupe powered by a Maserati-built V-6. Citroën SM enthusiast and expert Jerry Hathaway thinks differently than most, however, and for a limited time his weird and wonderful Citroën SM Bonneville record-holder, along with its one-of-a-kind tow rig, will be on display as part of the Citroen: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique exhibit at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California.

Hathaway’s love for Citroën–and specifically Citroën SMs–evolved out of boredom and routine. Tired of doing alignments and routine suspension work on Buicks, Hathaway took to the intricacies and eccentricities of the French brand when his employer, a Los Angeles Buick dealer, added Citroën as a second line. He soon became the go-to mechanic for Citroën SMs, which would later put him in the right place, at the right time, to acquire his own Citroën franchise. This would evolve into Citroën SM World, a shop that’s long been regarded as the premier service and restoration facility for Citroën SMs in North America.

Hathaway Citroen SM Hathaway Citroen SM Hathaway Citroen SM Hathaway Citroen SM Hathaway Citroen SM

The Hathaway’s Bonneville SM at the 12th International Citroën Car Club Rally in August 2002. Photos by Gene Herman, used with permission.

A customer–and former Bonneville racer–convinced Hathaway that the SM might just be slippery enough to do well on the salt, and a dream was born. Starting with an accident-damaged SM that was originally earmarked as a parts car, Hathaway built what may be the first Citroën SM Bonneville racer. The car’s hydropneumatic (technically, oleopneumatic) suspension was left alone, as was the stock five-speed manual transmission. While the Maserati V-6 was left at its stock displacement of 2,965 cc, a trio of Weber carburetors, hotter cams, different pistons, and a few other tweaks raised output from the stock 178 horsepower to roughly 250 horsepower.

In this configuration, the Bonneville SM claimed its first record of 151.2 mph in 1979, running in the F/ALT class. Hathaway returned with the Citroën in 1980, setting an F/GC record of 148.7 mph, but he wanted more. The addition of an AiResearch turbocharger boosted (pun intended) output considerably, and in 1985, Hathaway drove the SM to a D/GC record of 200.002 mph. It was short-lived, however, as in 1987 his wife, Sylvia, bested his run with a two-way average of 202.301 mph, making the Hathaways the third married couple to make the 200 MPH Club.

The rig used to haul the land-speed Citroën is as unique as the car itself. The tow vehicle may be the world’s only Citroën SM pickup, and the gooseneck trailer is quite likely the only one in the world equipped with a pair of hydropneumatic suspensions, built by Hathaway from spare parts.

1931 Citroen C4G

1931 Citroën C4G.

Joining the record-setting SM at the Mullin will be a 1931 C4G, which boasted a top speed of 56 mph and used “floating power engine technology” to reduce vibration, and a 1975 CX2200 Berline, the model that replaced the beloved DS in the automaker’s lineup.

1975 Citroen CX2200 Berline

1975 Citroen CX2200 Berline.

The Citroën: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique exhibit remains on display until mid-March 2018. For additional details, visit