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Chevrolet Citation

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Chevrolet Citation/Citation II
Chevrolet
Production: 1980-1985
Class: Compact
Body Style: 2-Door Coupe
3-Door Hatchback
5-Door Hatchback
Length: 176.7"
Width: 68.3"
Height: 53.1"
Wheelbase: 104.9"
Weight: 2700-3000 lbs
Transmissions: 4-Speed Manual
3-Speed Automatic
4-Speed Automatic (1985)
Engines: 2.5L (151 cid) I4
2.8L (173 cid) V6
Power: 90-130 hp
Similar: Buick Skylark
Oldsmobile Omega
Pontiac Phoenix
Platform: X

The Chevrolet Citation was hailed as Chevrolet's "first Chevy of the 80s" to much fanfare at its introduction in April 1979 as an early 1980 model. The Citation replaced the outgoing rear-drive Nova and, like the Nova, were also X-bodies. The Citation, along with its corporate clones Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix, were GM's first foray into the world of front wheel drive compact cars (beating Chrysler and Ford to the market by 1 and 3 years respectively), and initially were huge sales successes. The X-cars were unfortunately plagued by various teething problems and factory recalls, however, that would soon have an impact on its sales totals and its reputation with the buying public. Some of these problems were premature rear-brake lockup during panic stops, power steering pump failures and other driveability issues.

Here's a quick rundown:

1980-1985

1980 Citations were built on a 104.9" wheelbase and were available as a 2-door notchback coupe, 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks. Engine choices were a 90 hp 2.5L (151 cid) I4 (the "Iron Duke") and an all-new 112 hp 2.8L (173 cid) V6. Transmission choices were either a 4-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic, available with either engine. A sporty X-11 package was available on the notchback and 3-doors, which included special decals, lower ratio rack & pinion, better sway bar, shocks, & springs, special instrumentation and the V6 engine with either the manual or automatic transmission.

Citation dashboards were universally criticized for their vertical (sideways) radio layout versus the conventional horizontal layout, which discouraged many aftermarket radio installation attempts. In 1981, the 2-door notchback (some called it the "club coupe") was dropped, but the 3- and 5-doors carried on and received a new eggrate grille. The big news this year was the X-11, which received a high-output 2.8L V6 rated at 130 hp, 14" 60-series Goodyear Eagle GT tires, a fibre glass cowl-induction hood, alloy wheels and special decals. It was available with the manual or automatic transmission, and was a pretty quick car for its day. Lesser Citations had the same drivetrain and trim choices as 1980.

In 1982, Citations received another new grille and the 2.5L I4 gained fuel injection, while the V6 retained its 2bbl carburetor. The Citation (and its other corporate clones) were starting to see sales drops this year, due largely to the aforementioned problems, plus Chrysler introduced its K-cars in 1981, which gave the GM X-cars alot more competition than they had before. But this year, the X-cars spawned off their own larger corporate siblings (the Chevrolet Celebrity, et al), which would share the X-car underpinnings and drivetrain, but were A-bodies.

1983 Citations soldiered on with little change other than new colors and such, but in 1984, Citations were rechristened Citation II, perhaps to distance itself from its previous reputation as unreliable (deserved or not), but the public wasn't buying it, as sales kept slipping further year after year. 1984 also saw the return of the "club coupe" 2-door notchback bodystyle. The other X-body clones, the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix would be discontinued after only 4 short years after 1984, but the Citation II would hang on for one more year. 1985 models gained a restyled dashboard which (finally) included a conventional, horizontal radio. The V6 was available in multi-port fuel injection, rated at 130 hp, but the carbureted V6 was still available, as was the 2.5L I4. The 85 X-11 had a faux cowl induction hood and the 14" rally wheels became an option, replaced by steel wheel with a plastic center cap. The seats and door inserts in the 85 X-11 (and some MPFI models) has red or blue pin stripping. Sales slid even further, however, and Chevrolet finally threw in the towel after 1985.

The new Toyota-built Chevrolet Nova, which debuted in 1985, would carry the GM compact banner until the introduction of the all-new 1988 Chevrolet Corsica, which was considered a more direct successor to the Citation than the Nova was.

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