The Greatest Car in all of Recorded History is… French and Double Italian

The only engine bay that asks "Where is your God now?"
There’s little question that the third most incredible car ever built is the Citroen DS. First appearing on the motive scene in 1955, the Goddess with it’s inboard-hydraulic brakes, oleopneumatic suspension set up and bolt-on body panels attached to a unibody frame, is still ahead of its time. Not a believer? There’s the final all important measurement metric employed by all serious doctors of automotive journalism: Just look at it! As you can see, DS = hella sweet. [Ed: We’re honored and a little terrified to feature a guest appearance from Autoblog’s own resident Francophile Jonny Lieberman. Trust us, not hitting the jump on this one will make you a supremely uncool person.] Of course, the second most incredible car ever built is the alien-technology version of the DS, the utterly flabbergasting  Citroen SM. Designed by Robert Opron, covered with aircraft quality aluminum and as far as we know is the only car ever specifically built to carry two men in the front seat and two women in the rear, the SM should have never existed. Did you know that according to some, the “M” in SM stands for Maserati? As in Sports Maserati, as in there’s a 2.7-liter (later embiggened to 3.0-liters) 90-degree,ultra-complicated Maserati V6 sitting way back against the firewall. According to others SM stands for Sa Majesté. I like both stories. While most car enthusiasts pop their hoods with pride of ownership, happy and content to show off the power plant motivating their treasured ride, SM-owners live in constant terror of what lurks beneath the sculpted, lightweight bonnet. All the old school (though beefed up) French hydropneumatic sphere stuff is attached to the Italian heart by a single spinning rod. Think of it as a simulacra version of the La Provencale hitting the Autostrada dei Fiori just east of Nice. Put another way, the oil pump shaft is quite literally where worlds collide, “the backspacing of the crankshaft bore accepting the oil pump shaft is not controlled adequately. The oil pump drive shaft commonly falls into the crank and runs on a small area of its splines thus wearing rapidly.” But what if the SM was even more complex?
1971 Maserati Quattroporte II
French and Italian, the choice of Spanish Royalty
Meet the Bertone-bodied Maserati Quattroporte II, or as I like to call it, the Holy Grail. Well, more like the Holy Shit Grail, but that’s blasphemous on several levels. Without question the Quattroporte 2.0 is the greatest car ever (and almost never) built. Here’s the story. The original Quattroporte (1963-1969) was a pleasant surprise for the Italian sports car maker. Who knew people wanted a big, athletic four-door sedan capable of riding around Europe all day at 125 mph? Well, Facel Vega and Lagaonda knew, but that’s a side story. Point is, by the time cocaine the 1970s rolled around the Tipo 107 Quattroporte was long in the tooth. A replacement was needed and Citroen held Maserati’s reigns. We weren’t there, but we’re almost positive that the Gauloise and Pernod-infested back room discussion went something like this, “The SM, it’s très magnifique. Give it four doors, a trident and we’ll own the world.” Totally plausible, right? So yes, the Quattorporte II was a Marcello Gandini penned four-door Citroen SM. True, Citroen did build a few 4-door SMs — called Operas –b ut something was lost in translation. They looked… not svelte. Maserati needed a slam dunk, a grand slam and a two-point conversion. So they brought int the ringers ringer, Mr. Gandini. In case you’ve forgotten, Gandini also drew up the Lamborghini Countach, Espada, Miura and Urraco, Lancia Straos, Fiat X1/9, De Tomaso Pantera, BMW E12, Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 and the Alfa Romeo Montreal. As you can see, not a bad effort at all Mr. Gandini. In fact, it’s quite sexy. maserati quattroporte II Sadly, only thirteen Quattroporte IIs were ever built. Six were pre-production show cars and the remaining seven were all built to order custom jobs made between 1974 and 1978. You can blame the Quattorporte II’s near total still birth on a combination of the 1973 oil crisis, an underpowered (210 horsepower) motor for such a prestigious segment and a string of seemingly never-ending autoworker strikes in France and/or Italy. But that’s the official excuse. The truth of course, is that the world simply wasn’t ready for a mechanized masterpiece of such meteoric magnitude. Hell, it still isn’t.

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