The History of the Chevrolet Citation Part II


We continue our Chevrolet Citation coverage today, just after the introduction of the critically acclaimed economy car in 1980 and huge sales figures. Unfortunately for GM, the Citation’s true personality was quickly exposed, and things went downhill from there.

After winning a COTY award of Motor trend, the qualities of the Citation have become evident to the press, NHTSA and the general public. Quote was almost immediately derided for its poor quality, its rust-loving panels, its dangerous handling characteristics, and the way it sometimes caught fire. These fires resulted in 225,000 1980 cars being recalled to repair a transmission pipe that tended to spill its contents on red-hot metal.

NHTSA even sued GM over the Citation’s braking problems: Under hard braking, the Citation’s lightly loaded rear was likely to break traction and cause loss of control. There were also power steering issues. NHTSA failed to take GM to court and the case was dismissed.

All of the above added to a considerable loss of consumer confidence in the Citation. Sales halved in 1981 to 413,000 cars, and by more than half in 1982, to 165,000. Each year from 1983 to 1985, Citation could not handle 100,000 sales.

GM continued to play with the badly damaged Citation and renamed it in 1984 to Citation II. The name change was supposed to reflect a new and better Quote (it didn’t) and attract new buyers. It worked very marginally, as 1984 sales increased by about 3,000 over 92,000 the previous year. The Citation was abolished after 1985 and replaced jointly by Corsica and Beretta. Hardly anyone missed it, and Citations was largely off the road in the early ’90s.

But there was one bright spot among all of the Citation’s problems, the X-11. The X-11 stood apart from the two standard trims when it was introduced in 1980. Visually different from the standard Citations, the X-11 wore a large badge to indicate its uniqueness alongside different color schemes. There were also chassis and engine upgrades (eventually). The X-11 trim was only offered on the two-door and three-door Citations – sorry five-door. In 1981, the X-11 offered a different engine: the high-output version of the 2.8, good for 135 horsepower. This exclusivity only lasted until 1982, as for ’83, this engine was granted as an option on all Citations.

Today’s Citation example is of course an X-11. The three-door is currently for sale on eBay in Illinois. Black on beige with a four-speed manual transmission, it looks in great condition. Yours for the not-so-reasonable amount of $ 10,950.

[Images: GM]

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Kevin A. Perras

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