By the end of the 1970s, it was clear that GM needed a front-wheel-drive compact that would fit as many passengers as a Nova but sip gas like a Rabbit. The General’s forces labored mightily, and they produced the Citation.
The Citation did indeed have the interior space of the old rear-drive compacts, but buyers soon discovered its cost-cutting design compromises and bad-even-by-Malaise-Era-GM-standards build quality and soured on GM forever. Meanwhile, Chrysler’s (arguably) far superior K cars won over the big chunk of ex-GM loyalists that didn’t defect to Datsun and Toyota.
For that reason, this Citation I’ve found in a Denver self-service yard is an important, vanishing piece of history. Citations once roamed the land in huge numbers, but most were long gone by the early 1990s. The Iron Duke engine under the hood, though reliable (GM always did have a gift for engines, even in its darkest Malaise days), was primitive, noisy, and weak.
Feel the optimism!
Why is there an idiot light labeled “CHOKE” on an EFI-equipped car? And what does it have to do with oil? Is this a light that comes on to indicate that the engine is too cold for full-on valve-floating revs? Another indicator of a once-omnipotent corporation turned into a blundering, crippled giant whose lunch would soon be eaten by ravenous Japanese salarymen.