Photo


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from Lynch’s Small Stories [source]

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eastwards

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NB: lower right – ‘music dealer’.

[The Morning Call, San Francisco, Tuesday, January 3, 1893]

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[from Zeit album]

Just before Citroën was forcefully married to Peugeot (keeping its name, but losing much of its avantgarde glamour), in the mid 1970s, and while it was still the owner of Maserati, it produced a work of art. Well, actually, just shy of 13.000 of them. The SM is by now a rare appearance, but it so happened that we met in person on Sept. 29, in Budapest. This, as fitting, was on Andrássy. The bleu nuit SM – a late model Automatique – put current abominations, like the omnipresent black Panameras, to shame. This is what the future should have looked like, this is a terrestrial vehicle descended from the Space Odyssey:

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Climate control air intake:

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Automatique logo:

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Central console and atypical positioning of the radio (‘rediscovered’ by current rotary controls):

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This is not only automotive design at its best, it is the culmination of a manufacturing tradition with a taste for originality. The car could only look like it looks because of Citroën’s signature hydropneumatic suspension system, which allows for very little clearance above the wheels. The engine is a 2.9 liter, 190 HP gasoline V6 borrowed from Maserati. To balance the car, the engine is placed closer to the center – the passenger compartment – while the gearbox is at the front of the car, just between the wheels (see here). There’s nothing like that these days. The typical nouveau riche will drive a typical German sedan and increasingly a typical German/’British’ SUV. More reliable than the SM ever was, surely. Till planned obsolescence kicks in, that is. Before that, you’re invited to show what you’re made of by led-decorated growling proofs of prostituting hard earned pedigrees – think BMW’s X6 and such. That making and ‘consuming’ an automobile was, rarely and at its best, an act of culture seems itself a collector’s item.

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roots

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