What do we say about the Chevrolet Quote? Was it GM’s pride, the pride before its proverbial downfall? Or was it a car that came out so quickly it was almost doomed? Either way, the Chevrolet Citation has become one of the biggest abuse of auto brand language in American auto history.
Update July 2021: If you’ve been looking for a reason why you shouldn’t approach a Chevrolet Citation, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve updated this article to include even more issues the Citation suffered from, as well as additional background information about the car and the company itself.
According to the dictionary, a quote is generally defined as exemplary conduct. Unfortunately, the Chevrolet Citation, as well as all GM X-body cars, turned out to be pretty much the exact opposite of that. Obviously, the car suffered from being a rush job to such an extent that it ultimately became his downfall.
Along with the Chevy Citation, GM’s other X-body cars, the Oldsmobile Omega, the Buick Skylark, and the Pontiac Phoenix were equally miserable GM offerings. However, the end of the Citation was ultimately brought about by the US government’s decision to take legal action against General Motors to address the tsunami of complaints filed by various owners of X-body cars.
So let’s take a look at GM’s X-Body cars and why the Chevrolet Citation has such a bad reputation that it thrills GM to this day …
The introduction, the sales and the fall
The Citation certainly wasn’t the first flop, there have been plenty of other failures in the history of GM cars, as well as the Detroit Big Three in general. There was the meteoric rise and fall of the Ford Pinto and the equally spectacular history of the Chevrolet Vega. The Vega remained from 1971 to 1977, selling 456,000 in 1974 alone. Total sales in all its years of production easily exceeded 2 million units.
The Chevrolet Citation arrived almost a decade after the Vega was first launched in 1980 along with the other X-body cars, and just like the Vega, the Citation sold in droves. In fact, it easily overtook the Chevy Vega early on! More than 800,000 units were sold in its first year alone, and by the second year, more than 1.2 million units of the Citation had found homes. The special performance-oriented trim of the Citation, the X-11 also helped increase sales.
The Citation was Chevrolet’s very first front-wheel drive car, and it came in three body styles: three- and five-door hatchbacks, and a two-door coupe.
The car was praised by all media and seemed like the best thing since sliced ââbread, at least in the automotive world. However, it later turned out that GM had duped the car magazines of the time. They all received specially modified versions of the car, in which serious torque steering was designed.
In the third year, sales fell to 166,000 units and only declined from there. By 1985 the gig was over and all X-body cars were off the market. Some models continued for a new generation and platform change, but for the Citation it was all over. So what went so wrong?
The many problems cited
Frankly, the Citation and the other GM X-body cars had problems early on. Rust was a major problem, not only on the Chevrolet Citation, but on all GM X-bodied cars. Buying a brand new car for it to start rusting almost immediately after it came out of the garage. exhibition became a major problem, then came the problem of interiors. It appears GM used a particularly weak adhesive to insert things into the cabins, and the items tended to come loose and fall off without any warning.
Many owners complained that the suspension brackets were collapsing like cheese and that the transmission could, and would, give up at any time. The Iron Duke engine, yes, the same one that brought the Camaro to its knees, also had a tendency to bitch and moan as if it was on its deathbed in the Citation. The fuel lines would leak, as would the brake lines – at least if the brakes stopped working, it wouldn’t be long before the fuel was out. The steering would wobble and even the seats would loosen sometimes.
It’s also not as if GM didn’t know about the issues, as even before the Citation launched, it had undergone last-minute changes and updates. But this was obviously a classic case of too little, too late.
Finally, probably worst of all, the brakes were faulty and sometimes fatal. The Chevrolet Citation had a frightening tendency to lock the rear wheels when the brakes were applied suddenly and strongly. This would of course lead to cars skidding directly in the path of whatever the driver was trying to avoid. This resulted in accidents, injuries and, unfortunately, even fatalities.
Two recalls have been issued by Chevrolet in an attempt to resolve the issues. The first recall took place in 1981, and it was a largely secret exercise to repair less than 50,000 cars. Then in 1983 there was another recall, this time involving some 250,000 cars. Recalls did not appear to be working and complaints about the Chevrolet Citation continued to flow.
Finally, in 1983, NHTSA, with help from the Department of Justice, filed a $ 4 million lawsuit against GM, alleging that the company was aware of the faulty brakes and decided to go ahead anyway. forward with sales. If that was indeed the case, it was certainly a horrible decision, and they were downright messing with people’s lives.
In 1985, the Chevrolet Citation, a death trap for a car, was withdrawn from the market.
Where was the problem?
The Chevrolet Citation and GM’s other X-body cars were a study of how different departments had their arms twisted in order to play well with each other. They ended up sticking with GM in making a car that went down in automotive history as one of the worst cars of all time. And this is where the problem lies. Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac were all responsible for different parts of the car, and while the parts may have been good individually, together they turned out to be a recipe for disaster.
Second, GM’s big bosses decided to let the cars go to the assembly line, straight from the drawing board, in an effort to dampen Americans’ new enthusiasm for Japanese front-wheel drive wonders. Instead, they should have taken the time to smooth out the wrinkles.
Needless to say, the Chevrolet Citation was a futile exercise, and in the end, it not only caused massive damage to GM’s reputation, but it also gave American cars an even worse reputation.
Sources: TheTruthAboutCars, Washington Post
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