Blogs at Amazon

« Ford Pinto/Mercury Bobcat | Main | Kaiser Henry J »

Chevrolet Citation

Citation1 If a research company conducted a scientific survey of Americans' opinions of the worst cars ever sold in this country, I would bet the top results would be made up of some combination of the usual suspects--the Yugo; the AMC Pacer and Gremlin; the Chevrolet Vega and Chevette; and the Ford Pinto. Those six stinkers are justly famous for their automotive ineptitude and would likely dominate the list. But I would guess that, trailing just behind those all-stars, the Chevrolet Citation and its General Motors X-car brethren would slot in a solid seventh on the definitive list of automotive awfulness.

My head tells me that this popular disapprobation is well-justified. The X-cars were deficient in many of the criteria that cars are judged upon--namely, they drove poorly, they weren't well-built, and the design was fundamentally flawed. Add to that list of negatives the huge investment GM made in the X-car, the public's sky-high expectations for the car, and, paradoxically, the X-car's strong sales early in its life.

The net result was that GM paid billions of late-1970s dollars to give an entire generation of American car buyers an incredibly convincing first-hand lesson that American cars weren't worth buying. If, as I've argued, General Motors spent three solid decades trying to dissuade customers from buying its family sedans, the X-car can be seen as the most effective effort in that campaign. By any logical set of criteria, the X-car deserves its inclusion in Epic Fail Week. In fact, it should arguably be the headline act in this tuneless concert of shameful failure.

Regular readers of Car Lust can feel free to begin rolling their eyes here, because what's coming next is as predictable as chilly weather in Antarctica. You see, while my head is convinced, my heart thinks the Citation and its much-maligned siblings are interesting, pretty little cars that don't deserve the level of abuse they have endured. The court of popular opinion has already tried and convicted the Citation, but I'd like to reopen the case and defend the poor, cringing X-car.

So, here are the three primary planks of my pro-X-car platform, using the Citation as a proxy for all X cars:

Citation8 1. The Citation Was Truly Revolutionary

Snicker if you like at this statement, but the automotive landscape was very different 30 years ago. In the late 1970s, the American automotive industry was embroiled in its second major gas shortage, rocked by strict new safety and pollution legislation, and besieged by more advanced import competition.

Volkswagen had just released its revolutionary new Rabbit, which brought to the masses the space- and gas-efficiency advantages of transverse-mounted engines and front-wheel-drive. The Rabbit was right for the times and was an instant hit. Not surprisingly, other imports quickly followed suit. Even today, more than 30 years later, the vast majority of passenger cars on the road in the United States use the Rabbit's once-revolutionary configuration of a transverse-mounted engine and front-wheel drive.

 Meanwhile, despite the growing clamor for efficient small cars, the American carmakers continued to build the huge rear-wheel-drive cars they knew how to build and sell. Their response to the import invasion of the small-car market for much of the decade was to rely on small rear-wheel-drive cars like the Pinto, Vega, Gremlin, and Chevette.

Citation4Surprisingly, considering its reputation for conservative design, GM took on a leadership role in this period in designing more rational, more efficient, and simply better American cars. In 1977, Chevrolet debuted the all-new Impala/Caprice, which looks huge to contemporary eyes but was a vast improvement over its predecessor in minimizing weight and size while maximizing interior space, fuel economy, and performance. The very next year, the new Chevrolet Malibu hit the market; it offered similar advantages over its bloated predecessor. These were two large steps forward, and their success can be judged not only by the number of cars sold, but by the number that remain on the road today. In the early 1980s, GM would also introduce new, more capable versions of the Corvette and Camaro/Firebird, and an efficient two-seat commuter sports car.

Citation3The new X-car was the most important, the most audacious element of this major product refresh--not just on its own merits, but as the basis for the later, more compact J car (which would become, among other things, the Chevy Cavalier and this week's original Epic Fail, the Cadillac Cimarron). As America's first mass-produced, front-wheel-drive family car in the Rabbit mold, the X-car was breaking brand new ground. The powertrain configuration wasn't the X-car's only forward-thinking element--the Citation and Phoenix were both also available as five-door hatchbacks (!) that offered mammoth load-carrying capability.

Consider this for a moment. Chevrolet claimed the five-door Citation's exterior dimensions were no larger than the small Monza sports coupe, which is impressive enough. But it's even more impressive when you consider that within that relatively petite package, the Citation offered as much passenger space as the larger Malibu and as much trunk space as the full-size Impala/Caprice. That's with the rear seats up; fold them down, and the Citation transformed into a proto-minivan. Now consider the Citation's domestic competition at launch--the antediluvian Chrysler Aspen/Dodge Volare and Ford Fairmont. The Citation was pretty momentous car at launch.

Citation9 The Citation was so revolutionary that Car and Driver devoted a cover and 16 full pages of editorial coverage to the Citation and its brethren, including a technical breakdown, a first drive report, a styling analysis, and even a spotter's guide. That page count expands to 21 when you include the cover and a Corvair commemorative piece that looked back at the Corvair through the lens of the Citation's debut. GM contributed 16 pages of X-car advertising--one page for the Oldsmobile Omega, one page for the Buick Skylark, six pages plus a foldout for the Pontiac Phoenix, and a full eight pages for the Citation. All told, an astonishing 37 of the May 1979 issue's 198 pages were related to the Citation or its siblings.

With the benefit of hindsight, much of C&D's breathless prose reads as dark irony--a fact that has probably caused the editors of that august publication some face-palm moments in the ensuing years. Still, it's instructive to read what they thought of the car at the time.

The cover screamed, "REVOLUTION! GM blows everybody into the weeds with the new front-drive compacts!" After driving a Pontiac Phoenix for a few days in real-life conditions, Rich Ceppos said:

"For once, the hardware is as good as the hype ... if you've noticed an absence of cricism, then you're getting an idea of just how good these cars turned out ... this leads me to conclude that the GM X-cars really don't have any hidden vices ... the fruits of (GM's) considerable labor are sweet indeed ... GM has redefined the popularly priced small car, and nothing will ever be quite the same again."

History has proven that hilariously wrong, of course, but my point is that when it debuted, the Citation was a revolutionary, groundbreaking car.

Citation22. The Citation Was a Good-Looking Car
 If you read the content above while maintaining a straight face, congratulations! I'm about to put your composure to the test by arguing that the Citation was actually a really nice-looking car. Seriously, I look at the Citation and I lust a little bit. Please, please hold off on pelting me with rotting produce until I have a chance to explain myself.

I love hatchbacks. I love three-door hatchbacks, I love five-door hatchbacks, and I suspect I'd love a 13-door hatchback if somebody made one. I love the way hatchbacks swallow cargo, but what I really love about hatchbacks is the slick, smooth, fastback roofline.

I also love the square-jawed, honest, late-1970s/early 1980s Chevrolet look. I love that look on the Impala, I love it on the Malibu, and I love it on the Citation. I can even deal with it on the Cavalier and the Celebrity. There's just something fundamentally right about those lines in a way that Chevrolet has never really been able to capture since.

So, in combining that Chevrolet look with three- and five-door hatchback bodystyles, GM created the perfect storm for my car lust. I think the Citation is a very handsome car, especially in hot-rod X-11 trim. Judge me if you must, but all I know is that there's a perfect bronze Phoenix five-door that is semi-permanently parked on the other side of our neighborhood. I drive blocks out of my way to see it.

Citation63. The Citation X-11 Was Pretty Fast

 If you're still with me, congratulations again--I'm about to strain your credulity once again. The Citation was respectably quick for its time, and the X11 variant was pretty speedy. Not a ZL1 Corvette or an IROC-Z Camaro, perhaps, but in this dark time the X11 counted as a ray of performance hope.

Even in X-11 trim, with a heavy-duty suspension, the Citation wasn't exactly an agile mountain-road carver in the Lotus Elan sense. But compared to family sedans of the time, the X-11 had quite a bit of grip, sticking at .78 G on the skidpad at a time when only real sports cars approached or exceeded the .80 mark. The suspension didn't handle bumps well at all, torque-steer clouded the steering feedback, and the brakes weren't fantastic, but on smooth pavement the car had lots of grip. About the handling, C&D said, "This thing slingshots around corners like a bat on instruments." I'm not really sure what that means--an agile baseball bat? a mechanical flying rodent with modern avionics?--but it certainly sounds impressive.

The X-11 was at its best in a straight line. I've waxed euphoric a few times about the low-tech but eager GM 2.8-liter V-6 that provided a pleasing combination of torque and muscle-car burble. That 2.8 packed a torquey punch and a pleasing burble in the the late-1980s and early-1990s mini-muscle car Z24, and it transformed my Dad's company-supplied Cutlass Ciera from a sow's ear to a silk purse. That happy little engine made its debut in the Citation, and the high-output, 135-horsepower version appeared in the 1981 X-11. Married to a four-speed manual and armed with a high 6,500-rpm redline, the little V-6 pushed the Citation from 0-60 in the low 9-second range and made the car sound and feel much faster than that.

Citation7Perhaps that doesn't sound fast, and today it's not. But in those dark days, the Citation X-11 could run with an Audi 5000 Turbo and was only about a second behind a BMW 528i. C&D compared a Buick Skylark X-car, with the lower-output 2.8, against an Audi 4000, Saab 900, and a Honda Accord. The Skylark smoked the other three cars in a straight line, though C&D rated it as the least-fun car of the four.

Perhaps the best part of the hot-rod X-11 package was the breathless advertising. One ad featured the screaming headline "It works" with the subhead "It gives you goose bumps." Perhaps not, but the prototypical 1980s hypey incomplete sentences in the ad copy gave me hives. Some of the choicest bits follow--the emphasis is mine:

"Perhaps you're here because of X-11's heart-stirring looks. The aluminum alloy wheels, the hood scoop, sport mirrors, X-11 stiriping. ... Whatever the reason, you're in now. And now you're off.

"X-11 streaks you across the overpass. Its high output V6 working its innards to the max (!). Readily taming this piece of pavement. ... The conquest over, Citation rests. Yet is ready at a moment's notice to perform again. And you. You contemplate the excitement it takes to give you goose bumps. Because now they just won't quit."

Between working its innards to the max and readily taming the overpass, I'm not sure I'm cut out for the high-stress Citation lifestyle. After watching my Citation resting after its conquest and contemplating my stubborn goose bumps, though, I would appreciate a few sentences that included subjects as well as predicates.

Citation5So what went wrong?

Okay, so the Citation was revolutionary, it was (arguably) attractive, and it was (even more arguably) a decent performer. So why is the Citation remembered as one of the worst cars of all time? Well, like so many interesting but flawed GM cars before and later, the Citation was crippled with engineering that wasn't fully baked before the car was released. For example:

  • As one might expect with an early front-wheel-drive car, torque steer was a major problem with the Citation, especially when equipped with the V-6. Wikipedia alleges that C&D's early feedback was so positive because its test examples had been customized to mask the production cars' torque steer. I have no idea if that's true, but it explains the press' enthusiastic early response.
  • The X-cars had a well-documented tendency to lock their rear wheels under braking, resulting in instability and spins. C&D picked up this problem, and it turned out to be a major issue for road driving safety as well as a handling quirk on the test track. The issue even prompted an (ultimately unsuccessful) lawsuit from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Build quality was uneven at best; even press cars displayed alarmingly poor fit-and-finish. One C&D test Skylark was badged as both a Sport Coupe and Sport Sedan. That same car, in what appears to be the magazine's very first long-term test, racked up clutch, electrical, alignment, fuse, and internal finish problems in only 24,000 miles. Remarking on the locking rear brakes, Ceppos said, "Just as the engineers predicted, the rear brakes have bedded themselves; they no longer wrench the car sideways into an atomic death-skid during all-out stops. The right rear wheel is still an early locker, however." That's true damnation with faint praise.
  • The Citation and the other X-cars were recalled many, many times in its short six-year run--not exactly the kind of press an automaker needs for its brand new, revolutionary automobile.

Citation10 More than anything, the Citation and the other X-cars represented a tragedy. Had the cars lived up to their billing, had the engineering been fully baked, had the cars displayed both the initial build quality and lasting reliability of the Japanese competition, the world might be very different today.

If that sounds like hyperbole, consider the effect of selling flawed cars to nearly a million customers in the first year of production alone. Add in the fact that GM spent $1.7 billion (nearly $5 billion in today's dollars) on the X-cars for tooling alone. Then consider the psychological factor. GM swung for the fences with its innovative small cars, but it hit into a highly publicized double play. Was that hugely expensive ambitious failure a cause of the tepid small-car engineering we've seen from American automakers in the decades since?

Perhaps not. But imagine, just for a moment, that the X-cars had been a sustained sales, quality, and customer satisfaction success rather than retired in ignominy and dwindling sales. Might we have a stronger, more innovative, more risk-taking domestic auto industry? Again, probably not, but it's interesting to think about.

The vast majority of the photos come from How Stuff Works' Citation page. I scanned in my own copy of the C&D cover, and the final picture of the white five-door Citation comes from Flickr user Dave_7.

--Chris H.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e54ed05fc28833011168610ede970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Chevrolet Citation:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Two things about the name "Citation" that I find amusing:

1. The dictionary defines "citation" as, among other things, "an official summons, especially one calling for appearance in court"

2. The only other car to use the "Citation" model name, as far as I know, was the top-of-the-line 1958 Edsel.

Mere coincidences? I think not.

The launch of the "X" Cars began a sad tradition at GM of getting cars to the public before they were ready. The Fiero, APV Minivans, Reatta, and Allante followed, and tarnished GM's reputation to what it is today... GM hasn't recovered yet, and may not.

One CRIMINAL flaw of the first-year "X" Cars were the rear brakes. Since the proper ones weren't ready, GM fitted the stronger grippers from the Nova onto these cars (ABS was still far away), and that caused the premature lock-up as described. My friend had a Phoenix, and he was lucky to only wipe out a mailbox.

We really liked the Phoenix! It carried us then-young adults on many exciting ventures. That is, till the headliner collapsed on us, another GM problem at the time. Other brands had headliner failures too, but every GM car in the early to mid 80s developed what we called the "Big Top" effect, when the foam rubber rotted between the cardboard and cloth, dropping the headliner onto our noggins.

The "X" Cars are known as the most-recalled cars of all time. Engine fires, hood latches, and brakes were just a start. The later "J" Cars were not a lot better.

Chris, thanks for a very thorough post!

The Citation is sort of like "Amos & Andy" - if you look at it through modern eyes, it's a train wreck of nearly biblical proportions. For the standards of the time, though, it wasn't half bad. Like it or not, it was better than the Vega/Monza in every way (yes, even reliability) and was leaps and bounds ahead of anything Dodge or Ford were sitting on at the time. Unfortunately, GM wasn't just competing against the domestics anymore, which is what ultimately sunk the X-Cars.

What a classic cars........!!!!

The reason X body sales cratered after a couple of years was the introduction of the A body Century/Cutlass Ciera/Celebrity/6000. These cars went out the door with far fewer teething problems and more percieved roominess and notchback styling preferred by many. But there was lots of X body under the skin, so I consider them to be a part of the X body legacy. And, yes, I do have a soft spot for the Citation and Skylark which were two of the first front wheel drive cars I ever drove. "It pulls you through the turn rather than pushing you through!"

Ah, the 1979 Citation! I remember it well. The first new car my wife and I bought was a new '79 Citation, 4 door with hatch and the V-6 and 3 speed auto. Chris' description of the car (plusses and minuses) was pretty much accurate: It was a nice looking car, had good performance, could carry a load of stuff and was pretty decent over the road. I didn't experience the brake lock-up problem as described, but remember that they weren't the car's strong suit.
The build quality was suspect at best and we had an early re-call to attach a cable to tie down the motor mounts, which were apparently weak. We had to replace the hatch struts and the rubber thingy that would lift the package shelf along with the hatch. After about 5 years we replaced the original coil-over units with new units with gas charged shocks. Made a big improvement in ride quality and handling. We kept the car for about 8 years and generally consider it a rather pleasant experience. However, and this is telling, we replaced it with a new '87 Honda Accord LXi. That remains my wife's favorite car of all time. Great post, Chris. Thank you.

Part of the problem with the X-cars is that they weren't revolutionary at all - they were reactionary. They did nothing the imports hadn't already done. They made up for that by doing everything worse, though.

I'm sure you guys, car nuts like me, have all seen Jay's Garage, with the videos of all of Jay Leno's different cars. It you haven't seen it check it out, it's pretty cool.

Can you imagine a Chris Hafner's garage? Imagine Chris make it big, wins the lottery, whatever, and has his own warehouse full of cars.

I can just see him with Pintos, Vegas, a Cadillac Cimmaron, Chevy Citation, Dodge Omni GLH, Chrysler Imperial, Caprice, AMC Pacer, Plymouth Reliant, Ford LTD & Fairmont every great American crapmobile ever made, all well maintained in excellent condition. Hell it would be great just for the comedy value. And it probably wouldn't cost that much to acquire the cars, the real expense would be fixing them and painting them.

By the way Chris I come close to agreeing with you on a lot of these cars, they do have a certain perverse appeal. The Vega, for instance, I always thought was a cool looking car.

These Citations, though, yuck. They always seemed like boring little junkheaps to me, with their cardboard door panels.

I'm with you. Grandpa bought a new first year '80 Citation (I'm pretty sure that was the first year. "First Chevy of the 80's!" was the slogan.) and Dad bought it from him mid-decade. Ours was a white 4 door with the 4 cyl & a 4 speed. It was a pretty zippy car for the day, but it felt as though it was falling apart underneath you. This was in the era when a GM car past 80K was on borrowed time.

I liked the clean look and they were ahead of their time, if just barely. Too bad they were put together so poorly.

Oh, and every car I've owned ('80 Monza, '88 Pulsar, '93 Escort, '05 Mazda3) has been a hatch back. Love 'em. Count mini-vans & wagons and I've owned 7 hatches in 20 years.

Sorry, but the Citation was a piece of crap. I had a 1980 model. It was clunky, underpowered and handled like a shopping cart. Also, they rusted pretty badly, and the paint came off. The biggest idiots were the people who bought Cadillac Cimmarons, which were just Citations with different grilles & taillights and Cadillac badges.

VW did put the transverse engine, front drive in the original Rabbit, but the design goes back to the original Austin Mini, designed by Alec Issigonis (sp) in the 1950's.

This was the first new car I ever bought. (I'd had two new pickups to this point, though: a LUV, and a a plain '78 Chev' 4WD long-bed.) The Citation had six miles on it when I picked it out (at Patton Chevrolet in Fortuna CA).

I loved the car; I'd read everything about it I could find (it was all paper in those days). I thought it looked great. I loved the interior. And it was my favourite colour (it was exactly like the light blue metallic one in the pix). I remember it as solid; the hood closed nicely with a thunk. And it cornered way better than some of the lumbering boats I'd owned and driven to that point.

I learned to street drive in my parents '59 Caddy ...I went through a few used British sports cars (Bugeye, MGA, Sprite, and a Spitfire) in my teens ...my immediately previous [used] car was a huge '72 Ford "ranch-wagon" ...so my first new car was just the teats.

But. I didn't keep it long (a casualty of the divorce), so all I have is great memories about the less-than-a-year I owned it.

The story of the Citation is just a twisted one... the reviews said the X11 was da bomb. and then that's exactly what it was. I remember when the first reports came through that the cars were junk and had all kinds of problems... since it was a GM car everyone expected it to have quality problems, even though the reviews indicated otherwise. But braking was supposed to be something it did well. Then time passed and the spins became well known. And then the magazines had to hint that they had been "scammed". The test cars had been hotted up for the reviewers. The tires were shaved and a host of other tweaks had gotten through. Of course this follow up was not well publicized or explained at the time.

One of the may problems these cars had was their cable shifter - it did not work reliably, resulted in slow shifts, and then it would just break.

The thing that is interesting about the X-cars is that I NEVER SEE THEM. I see Fairmonts and Pintos with some regularity. But I never see any Citations. LA is full of old cars, but not these.

Here's a link for a walk around on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wxg2Tsiuq8

There is exactly 1 citation on ebay right now. LA craigslist has none for sale.

nation wide there are a handle being sold:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&as_q=chevy+citation&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&num=100&lr=&as_filetype=&ft=i&as_sitesearch=craigslist.org&as_qdr=m&as_rights=&as_occt=any&cr=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&safe=images

One guy near Utica wants $4000 for his 3 speed auto X11. So dude, how's it feel to want?
http://utica.craigslist.org/cto/999617463.html

This was my first car, with the 2.8 / 4-speed. I loved it to death (actually, I loved it until I killed it.) It was quick enough for a sixteen year-old, and handled better than one might expect. The torque steer was brutal, and the rear wheels locked often. I spun it more than once on the roads in New England.

I was wondering if it would show up here. And for the record, I am with Chris H -- I always thought that it was a good-looking car.

we all seem to forget the other reasons why these types of cars didn't make it.
While Datson, Nisson, Toyota and others were making small cars, they did more and had more than American made cars. Cars with possie rear ends slipped off the market in favor of the slip differential. while cars like Subaru were making all wheel drive. If you wanted 4 wheel drive you bought a jeep or a pick up. Not ideal for a family.
They had 4 cyl engines that could do almost everything that an 8 cyl American car could do. A new late 60's model American car floated an AM radio while the foreign cars were pushing AM FM. We had 8 track, they pushed Cassette. We wanted Muscle cars. Mustang, Camero, Firebird, GTO,442, Cuda's and superbee. all 8 cyl. They gave us Porshe,240Z and a Renault leCar. all 4 cyl. Now a days, you can't buy a stock car. Every American Car has some form of GPS, or Ipod, Bose stereo and a Massive Computer system to make the car run.
Caddy has headlights that turn with the front wheels, and a type of Night vision built into the front wind sheild. Backup cameras and speed sensors to automaticly adjust your speed for you in freeway traffic. Yet, the main design of the engines hasn't changed in Years. Is that why chrysler uses Mitsubishi motors ? Did we know that Chrysler bought renault. ( maybe for the Neon and PT Cruiser frames and motors ) Safety designs from BMW ?
I remember an artical from Science Mag. back in the mid 70's about a Gent whose car broke down out in the mid west. The Rolls Royce couldn't be repaired because the engine Hood was Locked. It had to be opened by a Lock Smith. Low and Behold it had a GM Motor.

jeff

Mochi - good point. It's been a while since I've seen one, too, which is weird - I used to see them all the time. Come to think of it, I think they just sort of collectively disappeared about five years ago or so.

There's a Pontiac Phoenix for sale in Sparks...
http://reno.craigslist.org/cto/1026902766.html

Looks about right. Heck, it's even the five door hatchback! Perfect for a young family. *grin*

Right now less than a mile away from me there's a brown Ciation 2-door (non-hatchback).
A out-of-town pilot keeps it the local general aviation field for ground transportation when he's visiting. It's sits for weeks on end, covered with snow in the winter, baking in the summer.
I feel a bit sorry for it.
I thought they were extinct...especially in this body style.

I remember my mom wanting to purchase a Citation (based on the hype in 1979) but local dealers either couldn't get them, or were charging over list price(!) for them.

She got a Mustang instead, an awful car, but at least it looked good, after that Mustang II era...

dude...the radio...it was "side-ways' in the dash...

I cannot fathom how many areas GM neglected to put energy into engineering and designing well after such a after thought as that!

one funny...I have a friend who's mother bought a grey over burgundy one off a used car lot with 50k on it around 10 years ago fo rover 3 grand (eeek). Made that salesman's day!

He told his mother "Why didnt you get a Honda Accord or some other decent car!...Mom! 3000 DOLLARS!"

We had fun driving that wallowy thing to night clubs

Hi there, well I just want to tell you all that all cars have there problems especialy when they first come out! It's normal.

I feel that Gm sould of waited a bit for the A body and give a better chance for the citation.


GM knoow about the problems and they fix them and took out the A-body it's dead of doing it on the citations.


So anyhow, I owned 3 citations and currently own an 84"citation X-11 notchback and I find that this car is more reliable then my most recent cars!! I restore my cars and the only thing I did is add an propotionning valve for my brakes. The cars runs super fine ! So for all means we all have our own likings on cars and if you do not like this car does not give you the rights to trash them!! (If well maintained) these cars will out last todays cars,
I even hope that GM will take out a new re-redesign X-body or citation , for 1 very economical -2 spacious-3 would be a lot more reliable considering they learnt a lot from the past! So I don't think GM want's to re-do the same mistakes they haved done. After all it's thanks to the X-cars for todays FWD cars.
I think that they deserve a 2 chance! Long life X-cars!!

These are great cars that fit almost anywhere for a mid-sized car and drive like a bat out of hell with a good strong v6. I own a 85 x-11 and had a 84 citation, but some pothead wrecked the 85 and Ivan took the 84, so I have a shell to take all those parts from the old 85 to drive again! The x-11 styling interior and exterior wise is a nice look, but Chevy should have revamped the car using the HO660 Prototype exterior with some interior improvements and maybe jumping to a 3.1 or 3.4 motor....

As a former owner of an X-11 there are couple of things not mentioned which should be.

There were go-fast parts available from most any speed shop which would bump up the horsepower a respectable amount for not a huge sum of money. Seven second zero-to-sixty, thankyewverymuch.

Not even Ziebart could stop these things from rusting into dust. I have never owned a car (before or since) where the floorboards *and* transmission tunnel rusted out.

Other than that, yeah - the torque steer was killer. I never quite got used to yanking back on the shifter and hard left on the steering wheel *at the same time* going from first to second. Still, for a daily driver it was decent, unless you count being able to hear it rusting on a quiet summer night.

Did I mention the rusting problems?

I still see Chevy Citations around. There is a 1980 Citation 2dr Hatchback near my office. However, there is one X car I see a couple times a month on the road and more frequently than a lot of near extinct 80s American cars. The Buick Skylark. These cars have oddly enough survived. There is even an 84 Omega at school. This is all here in San Fernando Valley, California.

Tell me about the rear brakes. I had an '80 Phoenix for about nine months, secondhand from my uncle- until one rainy night, when those rear brakes locked up and sent me through a double-360 into the ditch. Totaled the thing, for which I was very grateful. Spent the insurance money on a Mazda 626 hardtop- a vastly superior car.

Thanks for the information. Any other posts or blogs you can recommend read?

From what i have read, GM did indeed modify the X-cars for journalist testing, One of the major magazine's even owned up to it,{yes, they knew it at that time}... Kinda makes one wonder what the fascination with GM was. Why is it that i see chrysler K cars still running? I know of 18 of them just in my hometown, And its not very large. Chrysler rushed them into production, and at the time they were able to save the company with them. Its a sad truth that "COPIES"-{K-CARS} were so much better than the "ORIGINAL" {X-CARS}. GM blows everybody in the weeds...Bahaahaahaa...

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

Powered by Rollyo

Car Lust™ Contributors

November 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30