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sm buyers guide

Here smonline present a buyers guide for first time sm buyers. We start off with a small list which everybody looking at an sm can use. No technical knowledge is required, just some good common sense. In time we will expand this buyers guide into a very detailed checklist with testing procedures specific for the SM.

General questions

  • does the car drive?
  • is the car complete, not missing any parts?
  • is the paperwork all there? Do the numbers match those on the car?
  • is there an inspection rapport or repair bills with the car (this will tell you when the car last saw regular use)?
  • look at the sm in detail and remember an engine costs approximately $2000 and around 40 hours of labor to get it in and out. Tires (Michelin 205/70 XWX) are around $150 and a set of resin wheels will set you back $1500
  • check the mileage.

The bodywork

  • check for rust coming through from the inside around the front windshield (stainless trim)
  • check the front wings where they meet the front bumper and at the bottom behind the wheels
  • check the underside of the doors (also the part that you can't see)
  • check the rear wings around the wheels
  • check the rear glass around the lower edges (stainless trim)
  • check the underbody and the sills
  • check the lower edge of the rear lid and inside the trunk floor behind the wheels
  • check the panelwork that protects the suspension and gives access to the battery inside the front wings
  • check the condition of the front undertray

the mechanical side

  • check the for play in the driveshafts
  • check the gearbox for 4th and 5th gear play. Put one wheel in the air and with the engine off put the car in 4th gear and measure the play at the wheel. Then put in 5 th gear take the same measure at the wheel. If both are the same no problem. If the measurement in 5th gear is greater and more that 1/16 of a turn of the wheel you'll have to rebuild the gearbox in the near future.
  • Check the engine. Compression should be 9/1 and the oil pressure 6 bar at 3000rpm
  • measure play at the steering with running engine
  • measure for play at the top of the front suspension (wheel in the air)
  • check the cooling system and the working of the fans
  • check the exhaust system. a new stainless steel system will cost $1200 without labor
  • check the engine compartment for traces of oil leaks. Green is a leak in the hydraulic system, black is from the engine
  • check the working of the air conditioner
  • check the swiveling headlamp arrangement. new parts are not available anywhere!


  • check the condition of the leather seats (stitchings can tear)
  • an original continental edison radio is not of very good quality, but worth around $500
  • check the electrical antenna