Chevrolet Citation

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Chevrolet Citation
Chevrolet Citation II front.jpg
Manufacturer Chevrolet (General Motors)
Production 1980–1985
Assembly Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
North Tarrytown, New York, U.S.
Ramos Arizpe, Mexico
Body and chassis
Class Compact
Body style 2-door notchback
3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform X-body
Related Buick Skylark
Oldsmobile Omega
Pontiac Phoenix
Engine 2.5 L Iron Duke I4
2.8 L LE2 V6
2.8 L LH7 HO V6
2.8 L LB6 MPFI V6
Transmission 3-speed TH-125 automatic
4-speed manual
Wheelbase 104.9 in (2,664 mm)
Length 176.7 in (4,488 mm)
Width 68.3 in (1,735 mm)
Height 53.9 in (1,369 mm)
Predecessor Chevrolet Nova
Successor Chevrolet Corsica
Chevrolet Beretta
Chevrolet Citation

The Chevrolet Citation is a compact car marketed by Chevrolet for model years 1980–1985 in two-door coupe, three-door hatchback, and five-door hatchback bodystyles. Introduced in April 1979 for model year 1980,[1] the Citation superseded the Chevrolet Nova.

The Citation was significantly downsized compared to the Nova it was replacing. As a variant of the GM X platform, the Citation was adapted for front-wheel drive and was manufactured with badge engineered variants including the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix.

After its discontinuation in 1985, the Citation was replaced by the Chevrolet Beretta coupe and Chevrolet Corsica sedan/hatchback, introduced in 1987. 1,642,587 Citations were manufactured during its production run.[1]


To better compete in the compact segment following the 1973 fuel crisis, General Motors commenced work in April 1974 on replacing its X-body compact lines, following slow sales of full-size domestically-produced vehicles in favor of smaller import cars. Sales of the latter spiked following the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and its resulting gasoline shortages. While the Chevrolet Monza proved relatively successful, it was outdated and inefficient compared to front-wheel drive compacts such as the Honda Accord and the Volkswagen Rabbit; based on its success, the layout of the latter would be copied nearly outright by Chrysler upon the introduction of the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon for the 1978 model year.[citation needed]

While GM had been producing front-wheel drive cars for nearly a decade, the Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Toronado were neither fuel-efficient nor compact. In the mid-summer of 1976, the company produced its first prototypes of the cars intended to replace the X-Body; the Chevrolet Nova replacement was intended to be called the "Condor". Intended for a 1978 model release (alongside the downsizing of the mid-size car line), the X-body was delayed until the 1980 model year due to parts supply issues; GM parts suppliers were trying to adjust to the large-scale production of a front-wheel drive car. During the delay, the Chevrolet Condor name was changed to Chevrolet Citation.[2]


In its introduction of its first front-wheel drive car, the 1980 Citation transformed the exterior footprint of the compact car in nearly the same manner as Chevrolet had downsized its full-size sedans in 1977. In comparison to the 1979 Chevrolet Nova, the 1980 Chevrolet Citation was 800 pounds lighter and 20 inches shorter (the Citation is only an inch longer than a Chevrolet Vega). Sharing its 105-inch wheelbase with the mid-size Chevrolet Celebrity, the interior packaging of the Citation allowed for comparable interior dimensions of the outgoing Nova.[1]

Selling over 810,000 vehicles in its first year, the Citation was one of the most successful product launches in General Motors history; it was the best-selling car in the United States in 1980.[1] During its production, the sales saw a massive decline, for two reasons. Alongside a reputation of poor build quality, poor mechanical reliability, and numerous manufacturer recalls, the Citation had competition from the similarly packaged 1981 Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant (the Chrysler K-Cars), which offered a more conventional sedan bodystyle. The introduction of the front-wheel drive Chevrolet Cavalier and Chevrolet Celebrity led to internal competition within the Chevrolet division.

The X-body cars (of which the Citation was one model) were the target of an unsuccessful lawsuit by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which cited a tendency for the vehicles to lose control under heavy braking, and power steering problems.


In April 1979, the Citation was released as a 1980 model in two trim levels. Alongside the standard trim, a sporty X-11 version was produced.[1]

Priced under US$6,000, with hatchbacks in a much larger package than the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, demand proved very high for the Citation. Helped by an April release and yet another gasoline shortage during the same time, over 800,000 Citations were sold by Chevrolet for the model year. However, as the second gas crisis created demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles, GM was left with significant shortages of 4-cylinder engines, leaving some customers to wait several months to receive their vehicles. Before the fuel crisis, Chevrolet had anticipated 70% of customers purchasing the V6 engine option, leading to production lines unable to keep up with demand for four-cylinder models.

The Citation was Motor Trend Magazine's Car of the Year for 1980, a decision later criticized by the staff of Car and Driver in 2009, citing poor build quality and mechanical reliability undeserving of such an award in hindsight.[3] Car and Driver and several other car magazines at the time were duped when GM lent them specially modified versions of the X-body vehicles in which heavy torque steer (for which they became infamous) had been engineered out. Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver said that they were completely surprised by this when they drove a production version some time later.[4] Like the other X-body cars, the Citation was plagued by numerous reports of a tendency to lock the rear wheels upon braking, causing it to lose control and crash.


Following slow sales, Chevrolet discontinued the two-door version of the Citation for 1981.[1] To better differentiate it from standard models, the X-11 received a 135-hp high output version of its 2.8L V6.[1]


A major change was the addition of fuel injection on four-cylinder models.[1] Midway through the model year, the two-door notchback sedan was returned to the lineup after being discontinued in 1981.[1]

For 1982, GM styled the X-platform into the front-wheel drive A-Body sedan, wagon and coupe as Chevrolet Celebrity and its sister A-Body cars, the Pontiac 6000, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and Buick Century. The floorpan stampings of the A-Bodies are interchangeable with the X-Body cars.


1983 saw few changes to the Citation. New seats were added to the interior, while the HO V6 engine became an option for non X-11 Citations.[1]


For 1984, the Citation saw relatively few changes. In an effort to stimulate interest in the line, which had been hurt by a reputation for poor quality and reliability, Chevrolet rebranded the model as "Citation II".[1]


For 1985, the Citation II saw several revisions in its final year of production. Again, the two-door coupe was discontinued, leaving only the hatchback models for sale. Inside, the dashboard was redesigned with a new radio design, HVAC controls and steering wheel.[1] For the first time, the V6 engine line was upgraded to fuel injection.[1]

The last Citation rolled off the assembly line on June 21, 1985.


In addition to the X platform, GM also created a new line of engines for the Citation and its sisters. The 2.8 L LE2 V6 was the first of the 60°Family of engines. The X platform was used in 1982 as the basis for the new front-wheel drive A-body cars. The X platform was also the basis for the future L-body and N-body cars.


1980 Citation X-11

Produced as a separate trim level, the Citation X-11 was a variant featuring cosmetic, chassis, and powertrain upgrades over the standard Citation. While less powerful than the Camaro Z28 (and later Monte Carlo SS), the Citation X-11 would also take over the role of the similarly-sized Chevrolet Monza. The X-11 was offered throughout the production run of the Citation/Citation II, on the 3-door hatchback and 2-door "club coupe" (discontinued in 1981 and 1985).

In 1981, the Citation X-11 accelerated from 0–60 MPH in 8.5 seconds; the 1982-1984 version accelerated from 0–60 MPH in 9.2 seconds.


At its 1980 launch, the chassis of the Citation X-11 was upgraded with front and rear stabilizer bars and a retuned sport suspension, which were kept throughout its production. In place of steel wheels, the X-11 was produced with 13-inch rallye rims with Goodyear P205/70R-13 white-letter tires. In 1981, the 13-inch wheels were replaced with 14-inch wheels on Goodyear Eagle GT P215/60 R14 radial tires. To upgrade handling, for 1982, the steering rack was relocated from the firewall to the subframe holding the engine and front suspension; the design change was intended to prevent subframe movement from affect steering behavior.

For 1980, the X-11 offered only handling upgrades over a Citation, with the powertrain consisting of a 90hp 2.5L inline-4 and a 115hp 2.8L V6.[1] Alongside the standard Citation, the X-11 was available with either a 4-speed overdrive manual transmission or a 3-speed automatic transmission (the only transmission available for 1985).

To aid acceleration, axle ratios of the X-11 were changed, alongside the transmission gearing; the taller first gear was intended to allow the X-11 to accelerate to 60 mph without shifting to third gear. For 1981, the X-11 was powered exclusively by a "high-output" version of the 2.8L V6; a higher-performance dual-tip exhaust system raised output to 135hp/165lb-ft of torque. As before, the X-11 maintained separate final-drive ratios.[1] In 1982, emissions regulations required a decrease in torque output, to 145 lb-ft (horsepower remained unchanged); this output remained the same through 1984. In 1985, the carbureted engine was replaced by a fuel-injected version of the 2.8L V6; output decreased to 130hp/155lb-ft of torque. In slightly different tuning, the Citation X-11 shared its powertrain with the Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport, Pontiac 6000STE, and Pontiac Fiero.


In 1980, the Citation X-11 shared most of its powertrain with the standard Citation, with the model being mostly a chassis and visual upgrade. Alongside the alloy wheels and tires, the X-11 featured a trunklid spoiler, sport mirrors, body skirting, and side striping. In 1981, to better distinguish the model from standard two-tone Citations, the side striping of the X-11 was replaced in favor of large "X-11" door graphic, which remained in use for the rest of its production. The model is best distinguished from a standard Citation by its use of a black grille (the only exterior chrome trim on a Citation II X-11 is the Chevrolet grille bowtie and trunklid badging). In 1981, a functional cowl-induction hood scoop was added. Under hard acceleration, a solenoid operated switch opened a flap that let in extra air to increase compression. Giving more power to the engine.

While produced without the front bench seat seen in the launch of the Citation, the interior of the X-11 was most widely differentiated with the use of a sport steering wheel. The X-11 was produced with its own instrument panel, which featured a full set of engine gauges (6000 RPM tachometer for 1980, 7000 RPM tachometer for 1981-1985).


The SCCA classified the X-11 in Showroom Stock B class. Bob McConnell drove a 1981 X-11 to SSB National Championships in 1982 and 1984.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o The Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. "Chevrolet Citation". Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  2. ^ "Chevrolet Citation (thing) by schizophasic -". Retrieved 2015-11-14. 
  3. ^ "Dishonorable Mention: The 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History". Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  4. ^ "The Skeptic has a Malibu Moment – Column – Auto Reviews". Car and Driver. Retrieved 2010-05-01.