By on May 14, 2014

19 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chevy Citation (and X-body Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick siblings) was built in large quantities during its 1980-1985 run, but disappeared from American streets fairly quickly; by the middle 1990s, an X-body in running condition was a rare sight. Still, I run across them in junkyards now and then. In this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, and this ’83 Citation, and I’ve declined to photograph many more. I spotted today’s find in a Northern California wrecking yard back in March, and it’s a loaded hatchback with V6, automatic, and refrigerator-white paint.
17 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Citation’s real and perceived quality issues did plenty of damage to GM’s reputation, helping to push ever more car shoppers into the nearest Toyota or Datsun showroom.
01 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe replacement for the Nova had to be a light front-wheel-drive car, due to CAFE standards coupled with the need to compete with the spacious-inside Accord, and at first the Citation seemed to get the job done.
10 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has the created-for-the-X-body 60-degree V6 engine instead of the base Iron Duke. The descendents of this engine family are still with us today, now making over 300 horsepower.
04 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Citation’s interior was roomier than the rear-wheel-drive Nova, and the car got much better fuel economy. Unfortunately, it held together more like a Fiat than like the kind of car Chevy shoppers had come to expect.


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149 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Citation...”


  • avatar
    Jimal

    I remember how revolutionary these were seen to be when I was a kid.

    My grandfather had two of them; the first an ’81 he traded his mid 70′s Corolla in on, and an ’85 that he bought after putting a ton of miles on driving back and forth across the country visiting our far spread out family with my grandmother. The ’81 was passed down to one of my aunts, and became my first auto shop project in ’86 when its V6 spun a rod bearing. After trying to fix it on the cheap, we ended up putting a motor in it and send my aunt on her way.

    The ’85 survived running over a transmission a truck dropped in front of it on the highway somewhere out in the Plains and had close to 200k on it when he traded it in on a Saturn SL1 (with manual transmission) in 1992.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “The descendents of this engine family are still with us today, now making over 300 horsepower.”

    The direct descendants of this engine family died in 2011.

    The current 3.6 and the pushrod 60 degree are related in the same way a horse is related to a turtle.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Yep, the 3.9/3.5 liter was the last one…interestingly enough the last 3.9l motors were pretty decent.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        My dad’s 3.9L AFM v6 in a 2007 Impala burned a TON of oil. Apparently this was some kind of issue. Did they resolve it later on?

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Gm stopped matching rings to piston bores sometime around that time I believe. Before they used to use high precision lasers to size rings and bores and match them, but not anymore. Darn shame, too.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Sounds like a cool feature of the AFM. I believe that only ’07 and ’08 3.9L engines got that groundbreaking and completely faultless system. I bet that pre-’07 and ’09+ owners don’t get to experience the joy of adding oil to their cars.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          It had to do with the AFM engines in 2007/2008 only from what I understand. Something with the lifter design. The 2009-2011 3900′s did not have AFM. My 2008 2LT Impala had the AFM 3900 and up to 112K when I traded it in on a 2013 it did not use any noticeable amounts of oil between it’s 5K intervals. In fact it was a super reliable bullet proof engine that never let me down, never leaked and never needed so much as a wrench turned in it’s bay unless you count oil changes.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “Pretty decent” only if you pretend that NVH and refinement aren’t a factor. Impala 3.9s were some of the most agricultural-sounding GM cars in years. The 3.6 is a huge improvement in that respect. The 3800 was also much better.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “pretty decent” for a 60-degree means that it hasn’t suffered a gasket failure in its first 120K.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          I miss my old 2000 Bonneville with the second gen 3800. Lovely motor. It’s a shame about those plastic intake manifolds, though. Also, when accelerating hard, the front end would lift up… not sure what that was all about.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The L36/SII is alright, and a lot better than other GM car options of the era, but the positive reputation of the 3800 for durability really comes from the earlier LN3 and L27 versions.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Good point ajla, the 3800s in my dads early 90s Olds/Buicks have required less maintenance overall than his having the Series II.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    My grandmother had one of these in OLB (old lady blue) with a blue interior. Had an uncle who had the Pontiac variation, the Phoenix.That IP is still very weird to me to this day. I was really young, I only remember riding in both cars, Grandma did have one of the first Corollas too, which got a lot of flack in Pittsburgh in the mid 70′s. She traded the Ciation on a dealer demo Ford Tempo that was red with a rec interior. We had that car for a long time.

    I always thought the X11 lift back version was the best variation. Funny how this is parked next to a Saturn wagon, another car from GM’s “I coulda been a contender” category. Both successful enough, both done in by the bean counter beareaucracy at GM, though for different reasons.

    I’m sensing a theme today on TTAC. This story, the ELR failing miserably.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      The sad thing is that the Tempo was a big improvement compared to the Citation.

      The lowly, lowly Tempo. The lackluster car that ate alternators for breakfast.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Grandma didn’t drive much, so by the time we acquired the 88 Tempo in 1996, it had maybe 25-30k on it. My sister drove it from Pittsburgh to Cleveland for college for 4 years , it had at least one alternator in that time. It was traded on a 2002 Acura RSX.

        It had those awful motorized belts. Ugh. My favorite was watching a Tempo do its “Back to the Future” impression under hard acceleration. The front tires had such a noticeable and severe positive camber change for a car with about 100hp.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Oh yes, the Tempo had a lousy front suspension. They used to be the gravy train of the flat rate front end mechanic. Sloppy kinematics made for a lot of tie rod and ball joint replacements.

          Try driving one with the 3.0L V6. I had a Topaz with the 3.0L and manual transmission for a time and putting the hammer down would practically result in a lane change while still holding the steering wheel straight.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Motorized belts.

          Ha! I remember them bastards.

          The wretched noise they made. Yuck.

          Seems like any older person who had these motorized belts would fight you tooth and nail if you unhooked the belt from the latch at the top of the door frame. (I believe once you unhooked the latch, you got that annoying red fasten seat belt light by the emergency brake.)

          “Keep your belt on! You HAVE to keep your seat belt on.”

          Oh yeah, don’t forget to put on your lap belt, too. Lol

          About that same time, other cars had them as well.

          Toyota Camry, I believe? Late 80′s? I don’t know which others, but they were out there, I’m sure of it.

          • 0 avatar
            cgjeep

            91 Integra had them

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Hansen

            The one thing you never wanted to do with those damned belts was to open the door and stick your head out while backing into a tough spot.

          • 0 avatar
            greaseyknight

            b13 Sentra’s had them in the 4 door models, but not in the coupes for some odd reason. IIRC the government required some sort of active passenger restraint in the early 90′s and the motorized seatbelts where the cheapest way to do it until airbags became mandatory.

          • 0 avatar
            thunderjet

            My dad had a ’90 Accord with those damn motorized belts. I hated the things.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My grandmother still has her 1990 Toyota Camry with the motorized belts. Damn car has less than 50K miles.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            B13 Sentra coupes had the seat belt reel in the door itself, so apparently that counted as a restraint.

          • 0 avatar
            luvmyv8

            My ’88 Nissan Maxima has those motorized belts too…. I’d just unhook ‘em and use the lap belts.

        • 0 avatar
          mankyman

          Yes, those motorized belts were awful. And they got stuck and made that horrible sound.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hey, available 4WD!

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        Rented a Tempo once. Thing tried to kill me by stalling as I entered a busy Seattle intersection.

      • 0 avatar
        rmmartel

        And water pumps, don’t forget those. Think my wife married me because of how quickly I could change water pump on her Tempo.

        I’d rather have had a Citation.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          If given the choice between any year Tempo vs a 1982-85 Citation I would gladly pick the Chevy. The Tempos were so bad we quit selling them at our then recently opened dealership back in the early 90′s because we were sick of the come backs and problems these piles generated. of course we also avoided the 80-81 X body cars for similar reasons. The later years were actually much better.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    the Citation was yet another example from GM of a good concept poorly, and cheaply executed. One of the scary things about Citations is that they did not have a front/rear brake adjustment system (and, of course, no ABS). Given the car’s nose heavy weight balance, any effort at hard braking in less than a perfect straight line was guaranteed to spin the car, as the rear wheels locked up.

    • 0 avatar
      Shane Rimmer

      If I recall correctly, the propensity for the rear wheels to lock up was due to a very poor design decision. Supposedly, the car was designed for a handbrake, but the powers-that-be at GM wanted to have a bench seat in it, so they had to swap to a foot pedal for the parking brake. This, apparently, lacked sufficient force to hold the car on a hill, so they increased the friction in the brake shoes to compensate.

      I’m no engineer and I fail to see how a foot pedal provides less force than a handbrake, but that’s the story I heard. I did have an 82 example and I can vouch for the car’s tendency to lock the rear wheels under even moderate braking.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Engineer’s reply – I can’t say anything with certainty because I’m not familiar with the mechanism. But I’m sure the brake handle/pedal actuates the brake mechanism through a cable. The cable will elongate when stressed, the elongation is proportional to the length of the cable and accordingly, a longer cable of the same diameter and material will elongate proportionally more than a shorter cable for the same applied load. This could be a factor in the applied brake force. In other words, if GM simply increased the length of the parking cable from between the front seats to the front of the firewall without any compensating action to reduce the additional cable stretch under load, the applied force at the rear brake would be reduced.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Not enough force in the cable to make elongation a concern. Also the cables have adjusters built in to mostly compensate for shoe wear but can also accommodate for Amy permanent stretch. The difference is probably the torque from the shorter lenfth of the foot pedal is half that of a hand lever. They could have just made it require more foot force to use the ebrake however that might mean old ladies could not operate it, which would be bad.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            The length of the foot travel versus hand travel shouldn’t be a factor. It’s the change in length of the cable on both ends that provides the force multiplication. A properly designed foot pedal or hand lever would provide the same length of cable change regardless of the actuator throw. Although you may be right, GM may have neglected to account for it during the re-design. If the actuator throw was different between foot pedal and hand lever and the brake mechanism did not change or have adjustment for the difference, it would be a problem.

            w/r/t forces in the cable – the forces may be small (100′s of lbs) but depending on the cable material, diameter, and length, elongation may or may not be noticeable. Additionally, the cable would creep or relax under constant tension so that the applied force would actually decrease with time over the period that the brake is set. And…how many GM owners (or just owners) ever bothered to adjust their parking brakes? How many garages? I had brake work done on my 96 Cherokee last Fall and found out that they hadn’t bothered to adjust the parking brake after they returned the car to me.

          • 0 avatar
            eamiller

            From: http://www.autosafety.org/general-motors-x-car-brake-lock

            By mid-1983 NHTSA had forwarded its files to the civil and criminal divisions of the Justice Department, which filed its civil suit August 3, 1983. The Justice complaint charged that GM documents showed four causes of rear brake lock-up in some or all 1980 X-cars: 1) use of 41% proportioners in cars built before late August 1979; 2) use of cheaper smooth-surface rear brake drums in cars built before mid-August 1979; 3) use of aggressive rear brake linings in all manual transmission and a small number of automatic transmission 1980 X-cars; and 4) failure to guard against corrosion of caliper pins in the front brakes of all 1980 X-cars. The government lawsuit charged GM with five instances of failure to recall the cars after making a good faith determination that a safety defect existed, and with 18 counts of lying or withholding information from the government.

            The more things change…

          • 0 avatar
            oldworntruck

            I remember these brakes very well the tsb we had on them was that gm used bonded brake shoes instead of riveted shoes that were originally called for.
            Our process for repairing the early lockup syndrome was to install new riveted shoes which have less friction area and to make sure that the drums had no more than 0.020 wear.
            This problem was carried right over to the celebrity and pontiac 6000 I wonder if gm has changed?

    • 0 avatar
      Buckwheat

      Brakes are exactly what I was thinking when I saw the photo of the Citation- guaranteed rear tire slide upon moderate+ braking. I totaled an ’82 Skylark and my sister totaled an ’85 Citation- same curvy narrow road with steep ditches, wet conditions, probably the same deer running onto the road. Mine landed upside down, hers on it’s side, both after doing a 180.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      My strongest memory of the V6- equipped X and A body cars is the number of people I know who had them, and suffered transmission failures after just 2-3 years. Didn’t seem to be an issue with the 4-cylinder versions, as far as I recall.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The 125 THM trans axle is known for it’s longevity actually. I have seen very few downright fail when properly serviced. The torque converter solenoid was the highest failure item and most customers either had them replaced or unplugged the connector. The symptom was a chugging affect as if it were a manual transmission when taking off from a light and chuggle when trying to engage the lockup feature. many assumed the trans axle was bad when all it was is the solenoid.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    When I was working as a student, we had a Citation and a K-Wagon as company cars. Most of us preferred the Dodge because it had A/C. However the one thing that sticks in mind my about the Citation was that the dash was designed to have the radio installed sideways, somewhere evident in this photo: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/DOTJ-81CitationBlue-06.jpg. That alone was enough to give me the feeling that things were weird about the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Hansen

      That was a blatant attempt to preempt the aftermarket stereo business. As I remember, the EIA (a consumer-electronics industry group) filed a complaint with the FTC against GM for restraint of trade. The X-body cars also introduced the 4×10 speaker for use in the narrower parcel shelf.

      I had a business partner who bought a Phoenix hatchback. It was an awful car from many viewpoints, but it was a miracle of packaging efficiency. You could fix six people in it and the hatch, combined with the folding seat, yielded a huge cargo area.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I think that tape is factory.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    What a turd-blossom!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My brother had an 82 Buick Skylark Limited version of this with electric windows and locks, the Iron Duke 4 cylinder, 4 speed manual, and wire wheel covers. He used it for business and handed it down to his eldest daughter which after she was finished with it it had over 300k (mostly highway miles). With a 4 speed manual it was a decent running car. It was a 2 door and it was light gray with a burgundy red landau top and matching velour interior. He did very little maintenance to it and only put Mobil 1 oil in it.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    In the late 90s me and my friends all had these and g body malibus as our first cars. These were pieces of crap known as shitations. Seriously, this is the car that entrenched the “I’ll never buy gm again” mentality to an enormous amount of the public. Gm’s enormous sales numbers of these over some if their other, better cars, hurt gm dearly in the long run.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Back in the ’80s my dad was looking for a car. He had always driven Buicks or Oldsmobiles. A family friend was a GM exec and offered a choice of the Buick version of this car or a Regal (RWD, V6). For some reason, we found the the Regal more appealing even though it was smaller inside, had two doors, and was RWD despite us living in the Detroit suburbs. That Regal was a really nice car… until it spontaneously combusted sitting on our driveway a few years later. I still think it was the better choice out of two mediocre GM options at the time. The X-body just felt cheap and odd when it was new. I still remember the pillow-top velour interior of that Regal… so plush.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My first car was an 81 Regal V6. In 1994. I don’t remember much about Grandmas Citation, but I do remember it feeling “thin” compared to the Buick. Of course, the doors on the Buick must have weighed as much as a Citation. I owned a Buick, an 84 Eldorado, my grandfather had an 85 Caprice coupe and had friends with Monte Carlos. Those awful hinges made the doors that much heavier! I remember sitting in one of the last year Eldorados (2002) and the doors hadn’t changed. We were well into Lexus SC time by then, even my own 95 Cougar had better doors.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        It boiled down to service. The heavy 2 door cars of this time period used a brass bushing that wore over time and caused the doors to sag which of course made them hard to open/close. The easy remedy was a new bushing kit. If people actually payed attention to service requirements they would have seen that these require lithium grease at least once or twice a year for lubrication. If that wasn’t done the bushing wore over the years. I followed this recommendation and never had a door sag issue with any of my coupes including my 1981 Trans Am which has doors that still open/close as new!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I still think it was the better choice out of two mediocre GM options at the time.”

      So did many other buyers. The G-body (formerly A body) cars got a long reprieve of cancellation due to their continued popularity throughout the 80′s. I’ve owned a few of them and they generally lasted much longer than their FWD GM sh1tcan counterparts except the FWD C platform cars. Nothing seemed to outlast those cars from that era, proving GM did some things right in the Smith era.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        By FWD C platform cars, you mean DeVille/98/Electra, right?

        I don’t see many 98s and no Electras, but plenty of FWD DeVilles and some Fleetwoods. I find the 91-92 Fleetwood with nice blocky alloys is a fantastic looking sedan.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    The rack and pinon steering suffered from ( Morning sickness )and it took GM years to fix it. Was this the V6 that was famous for intake coolant leaks into the oil? These cars were certainly gifts to the competition.

  • avatar
    IndianaDriver

    My first car was a 1980 Chevy Citation V-6 stick shift without air conditioning. I had it for several years (used 1987-1990) and it never gave me any problems. I had not seen one in years and recently a brown one showed up in my town that is rust free. I see it around now and wonder if it was mothballed in a garage for a lot of years, since it actually looks pretty good. I’ve pointed it out to my kids and tell them it was my first car after getting my license in high school.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    According to Legend;

    The head of my automotive vocational program was once involved in the lawsuit of GM over one of the early examples of the car. A man’s wife got badly hurt, and they wouldn’t settle.

    He went as far to pose undercover, talk to engineers at something up in Michigan, like a seminar or something. According to the information he found, GM took VW Rabbit’s and reverse-engineered the cars to build the upcoming X-platform. Of course, they cheaped out in some areas, one being the bracket that hold the brake pedal onto the fire wall, which was plenty flimsy and demonstrated as such by holding it up in the court room and bending it in half with his bare hands (to which the GM rep stated “I hope you didn’t hurt yourself doing that”).

    I forget the whole story, or maybe it never happened. If I remember correctly, GM still won the lawsuit.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    When I took Driver’s Ed in 1981 our school had a Chevy Citation hatchback, two Ford Fairmont sedans, a M-Body Chrysler LeBaron sedan and a Dodge Diplomat coupe. On range days I always tried to get one of the M-Bodies (the LeBaron was my favorite) because they were comfortable cars and they felt very solid. In contrast Citation and the Fairmonts felt very cheap and flimsy.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The LeBaron and Diplomat were supposed to be more upscale than either the Citation or the Fairmont. The Citation and Fairmont were basic transportation; the Diplomat and LeBaron were Chrysler’s equivalent of the rear-wheel-drive Cutlass Supreme Brougham or Buick Regal.

  • avatar
    profk24

    The ambiguity of an “Oil/Choke” indicator light must have been lots of fun.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I remember as a kid, we had an 82 Electra that stalled often. So often that I, apparently as a 5 year old, found the sequence of idiot lights entertaining. “Check Engine, Oil/Choke” I hear my Mom saying in a mocking tone.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    I still see a few of these on the road. There is a guy who works not too far from me that has a base model that looks like it’s brand new he uses as a summer car. A few X-11 running around as well. Not my choice as a Sunday driver but whatever floats your boat I guess.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Living in Los Angeles, my favorite X car feature was that when you accelerated, the air conditioning compressor turned off. This was very pleasant in summer. That feature alone sent me back to Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      This was quite common on many cars of the domestic variety until the 90′s(?), the X wasn’t alone.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Many cars still do that. Difference these days is that compressors are efficient enough and cars have enough power that you don’t have to be WOT long enough for the lack of AC to become noticeable.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      In hilly Northeast Ohio, my (then) girlfriend’s 1978 Honda Accord would keep the A/C compressor on, but the rest of the car would grind to a halt. The car was underpowered to begin with (esp. with Hondamatic!), but running the A/C was a ticket to slow-crawl city.

  • avatar
    mars3941

    These kind of crap cars along with the Vega started G.M. on it decline from 51% of the market to under 20%. Oh how the mighty can fall.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Citation followed by the Cavalier were emblematic of GM’s decline and were both largely responsible for many buyers leaving for the import brands.

      But GM has made quite a comeback in the compact, much less subcompact segments.

      The current Cruze, tho not without its faults probably has the most mature/comfortable ride out of the compacts and the new Cruze should be better in every way.

      And the Sonic is one of the better/more fun subcompacts.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Cruze and Sonic… In other words, GM should have turned their small car operations over to the Koreans a long time ago.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          They would have been wise to keep their feet out of the water for a few more years instead of rushing the X cars. Cadillac 4100, Olds Diesel, X-Cars etc: CAFE did as much to ruin GM as it’s poor management, poor engineering, bean-counting, and the UAW.

  • avatar
    jmo

    It always surprises me when people say cars today are so terrible compared to yesteryear. It’s amazing how powerful nostalgia is in some people. A quick googling shows a 0-60 time for this crapwagon with the 3 speed auto of 13.9 seconds.

    I’ve driven on of this cars descendants. You know that pedal on the right? It’s not an accelerator it’s an engine volume controller. You push it and the engine gets louder, but there is no appreciable impact on delta v.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      People who say this should be made to spend a week using their favorite nostalgia mobile as a daily driver. This should give them a different perspective. It is true they don’t make them like they used to, and this a good thing.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        I have a friend who has bought a new Camry every 8 years since 1983. He said with the ’83 if you hit a gentle highway grade at speed, you needed to turn the AC off or you’d start to slow down, even with it floored.

        Every day driving to work in the summer? “Here comes a hill, reach down and turn off the AC.” And that’s just how things were back in 1983.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        I daily drive a 78′ Chevy Malibu sedan… 3.3L V6, 3-spd auto, no A/C and all of 95hp. 50miles round trip a day.

        I have a new 12′ V6 Mustang I leave in the garage, and a newer Liberty CRD I leave parked in the driveway (along with some other cars).

        Those old cars are built to last and to live forever, and I love driving the thing. It’s a better car in so many other ways then the new stuff I own.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “I daily drive a 78′ Chevy Malibu sedan… 3.3L V6, 3-spd auto, no A/C and all of 95hp.”

          Some people like to be spanked, there is no accounting for taste.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Definitely worse LOOKING.

        Try and tell me a 2014 Impala looks better than a 1964 Impala.

        We gained so much in technology and safety but lost all of the looks.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          I’d say a Mazda 6 looks as good. Different, but similarly good looking for a mass market sedan.

        • 0 avatar
          chicagoland

          This thread is not about 64 Impalas. The old X cars are not collectible at all, just like Vegas, best forgotten.

          BTW, that X frame chassis in the 64 Impala is ancient and nothing to praise. Best to beef one up with side rails.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        13.9 seconds sound close to what a Tech IV did with the optional 3 speed auto and economy oriented 2.39 gears. The optional 2.8 was much livelier at the time and actually was quicker than a Nova with the 305 V8.

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      It’s not always about speed, comfort, or efficiency for some of us.

      I appreciate the simplicity, I appreciate the durability. I try to live that of a self-sustainable lifestyle and I don’t like to rely on anybody to do anything for me.

      I’m not some greeny hippie or anything like that. We just don’t believe in paying someone to do something you can do yourself. I fix and build my own cars. Together we both fix/build on the house, and when we get settled in to our new home, we’ll have enough space and a old orchard to grow the majority of our food (and with a little hunting and fishing on the side for meat).

      I know; such a way of life is lost and not understandable to the younger generation I come from. Have your 7sec 0-60 acceleration times in a average mid-size sedan; along with the software updates, disposable construction, and the ability to completely become garbage from one minor impact.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        ” I appreciate the durability…I know; such a way of life is lost and not understandable to the younger generation I come from. Have your 7sec 0-60 acceleration times in a average mid-size sedan; along with the software updates, disposable construction, and the ability to completely become garbage from one minor impact.”

        Durability, disposable construction, WTF? You must live in the desert Southwest or Florida because here in the North East nearly every car built in 1983 rapidly because a near catastrophic rust bucket. People driving around in cars where you could put your feet down on the pavement like Fred Flintstone because the floorboards rotted out was a very common occurrence.

        I just don’t understand where you getting your “durability” ideas? If these cars made it to 100k it was a miracle.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        ” I try to live that of a self-sustainable lifestyle and I don’t like to rely on anybody to do anything for me.”

        Do you make your own gasoline?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Cars of the 1970s and early 1980s were not more durable than new cars. They are more easily fixed, but they need fixed much more often – just as they did when they were new. And, as jmo noted, most were worn out by 100,000 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          ” They are more easily fixed, ”

          Many here have noted that with OBD II they are easier to fix as well.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            If you have the necessary equipment to read the codes, and then determine what that particular code is telling you.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            If you have the necessary equipment to read the codes,

            OBD II code reader on Amazon for $25.87.

            then determine what that particular code is telling you.

            The internet.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The necessary information isn’t always just a computer click away. Here is the response one person received when he asked about a code being thrown by his car:

            “see the shop that installed the TRANS – this is a generic trans code and may require a professional scanner to access the specific code.”

            And, of course, even if you do get an immediately usable code that can be accessed on the internet, you still have to actually fix the part. Not very easy with today’s electronic hardware, unless you equate a total part replacement with “fixing” it.

            In the 1970s, people actually repaired various parts. They didn’t simply “remove and replace.”

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            Well, here’s a real-life example of how “easy” reading the codes is. In my car, I got a CEL and a slight lag/surge on the throttle. The code said “vacuum leak.” Now, in most cars, including mine, there are a jillion places where one can get a vacuum leak, somewhere in the intake system after the throttle body. I had already replaced the “rubber” tube connecting the throttle body housing to the intake manifold (which, coincidentally, has 2 or 3 small diameter rubber tubing lines connected to it.

            Fortunately, the Internet came to my rescue and suggested that the problem might be in the vacuum actuated diverter valve that changes the intake manifold path length from long (for low rpms) to short (for high rpm/wide open throttle). For something over $100, I took a chance and bought a new one . . . on the Internet. Aided by some illustrated Internet instructions, it took about 15 minutes to replace the old unit with the new one. Reset the CEL and voila! everything is cool.

            But you can’t always be so lucky.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Modern cars are much easier to fix. They TELL you what ails them in many cases. And as has been said, they don’t break nearly as often, nor do they need anything like the amount of maintenance. All the while polluting infinitely less, and using fuel far more efficiently. The good old days are now.

          I love my ’74 Triumph Spitfire, it has 3 fuses, power nothing, and a 10yo child could take it apart and put it back together again. But it is a toy, not transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Ah, also the GM hair trigger throttle. The first 50% of pedal travel gets you 75% of the power available( or noise,as it were) but pushing it to the floor only increases the noise level.

  • avatar

    Augh. I learned to drive in one of these. Four-door hatch, looked exactly like this one. It was a 1980, first-year model. Off-white with red velour interior and NO A/C. 2.5 Iron Duke/automatic. My parents bought it as a dealer demo. I have lots of memories of that car… Before I got my license, I remember Dad taking me out in it, with the back seats down, on bulk pickup day and collecting old bikes from people’s trash to take home and Frankenstein into my own rolling disasters. (Yeah, I was that kid.) As I recall, it held quite a few bike carcasses. Later, after I got my license, I can remember piling 7 or 8 friends in the back on a Friday night, and learning about the effects of overloading a vehicle on brake effectiveness. Another time, I bounced it off a guard rail in slow-motion in the snow… the only damage it seemed to do was to pop off both passenger side wheelcovers. Then there was the time I had a real accident with it–slid into a car in front at a traffic light in the rain and wiped out the passenger side headlight and fender. Put a red junkyard fender on it, hit it with some Dupli-Color, and off we went. And it had this crappy sideways radio. Jeez, the things you remember.

  • avatar
    rpm773

    I love that scene in the video above with the Citation, sans rear wheels, pulling a boat.

    It just seems like something from a National Lampoons movie.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Remember the family truckster and when he turned it off it kept running? That is called dieseling. It was a known issue with some GM engines of that era.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Yay 80′s emissions controls and computer controlled carbs! Did Japanese cars do this or was this a result of the cobbled together engineering of 80′s domestics? I remember dieseling ( my Regal did it once in a while) but I don’t remember hearing many imports do it.

        She’s a beaut, Clark.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Some cars of that era had a cutoff circuit somewhere in the intake that stopped fuel flow when the ignition was turned off. Im guessing yours didn’t.

          Speaking of dieselizing, I rented a boat last summer with a 3.0 Mercruiser (GM) engine that did that horribly. Fortunately the EPA has an end to those carbureted 3.0 sterndrives so there won’t be any new ones doing that.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Especially the diesels.

      • 0 avatar

        Dieseling or “run on” was a known issue with a lot of manufacturers in that era, not just GM. It had to do with trying to meet stricter emissions standards with mechanical point ignition and carburetors. Dieseling was an issue, but I think drivability was a more serious problem, with cars having flat spots in the acceleration curve and plenty of stalling problems.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “but I think drivability was a more serious problem, with cars having flat spots in the acceleration curve and plenty of stalling problems.”

          Good times, good times.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          I remember certain year Chrysler lean burn equipped V8′s having a terrible time with dieseling. Our next door neighbors AMC Matador 304 did it all the time.

  • avatar
    stckshft

    Ugh does this bring back memories. We had one when I was a child. Brown over brown interior 2 door. Spent many a mile with my head resting on what might have been called an armrest seated in the right rear. My sister rode in the left rear. Sounds of the poorly built optional Delco AM/FM supposedly stereo playing Pink Houses By John Mellancamp over and over. The Iron Duke wheezing across the countryside and the 14inch Firestone’s slapping the tarmac. Only car I know of where the radio was vertically mounted. My dad cursed that car. It was my mom’s idea of economizing going from a Delta 88 Brougham with a 350 Rocket.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Around 2005, my great uncle passed away at the ripe old age of 94ish, and he had a perfect condition ’84 4-door Citation in Tootsie Roll brown in his garage. Somewhere <20K miles. Beige interior. My cousin who was car-less at the time, got it as a gift from my grandmother – though my parents had purchased the house and contents at the estate sale.

    He didn't have it for long, traded it in on a Neon or something. But THAT was the nicest Citation I ever did see. Just like new.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    First Edsel, then Chevy. Moniker Citation is accursed.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      At least it’s working well for Cessna.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Not sure how GM decided on Citation, but for Cessna, it was because Citation was a Kentucky Derby Winner. I’m sure there is a picture on the interwebs of the logo that’s in the yoke(steering wheel) of the later Citations, of a golden silhouette of the plane over a horseshoe.

        The plane was first flown in the early 70′s.

        - a former Citation driver, not the Chevy kind

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Hansen

          I once heard a commercial pilot refer to the CJ1 as the “Slowtation”.

          The Citation X, on the other hand…

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            My father operates an X. He loves trolling Gulfstream pilots by challenging them to air races.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            Any Cessna Citation up to the Citation X (Ten) was slow. Still 350-450 mph. But slow compared to any other jet in the sky, especially the Lears.

            The only plane you could suffer a bird strike from behind ;)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The Citation coulda/shoulda been a run away hit .

    Thanx GM for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory once again …..

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I recall how the auto media hailed the coming of this thing as the next Messiah and I fell hook and sinker for it too, needless to say I picked the Buick version cause I thought it had the nicest dash, actually kept it for 5 yrs and over 60,000 miles until the breakdowns became a monthly problem and it was costing me more than a new car payment. True if GM had built this the way it was supposed to have been done, US auto history would have changed, I dare to say that this car almost killed GM

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I had a Shyteation, white ’80 4-door with the Iron Puke motor and automatic. Actually it was kind of peppy for what it was, didn’t have any trouble with it. Good mileage. Great city car. Easy to park and you really didn’t give a cr-ap what happened to it one way or other.

    My buddy and I planned to tape a nitrous nozzle to the carburetor to see what would happen but I fortunately got rid of it before we could do so. I probably would have got a torque converter in my tender bits given how GM cars were built then.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      The Iron Duke was uninspiring but also bulletproof, in all of my experiences with it.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The Iron Duke is great…as a truck engine.

        Back in the 80s nobody demanded that a truck be fast and luxurious, so a little workhorse S10 with an Iron Duke was plenty fine for a lot of people.

        I think the Grumman LLVs had Iron Dukes as well.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    In ’88 I bought it’s cousin, an Olds Omega, from a friend’s mother. Sun faded blue on blue. I’m not sure which problems were due to the previous owner and which I could blame on GM.
    It’s most distinguishing accessory was the “dump transmission fluid” valve. I never found it, but something caused it to get rid of a quart or two of fluid at random times. I checked regularly, and everything was fine. Then all of a sudden it wouldn’t shift. No puddle of red, no signs of a leak, just gone.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    As a kid I never liked the swoop between the C and D pillars and preferred the look of the X body sister Pontiac Phoenix my best friend’s mom had back in the early 80′s.

  • avatar
    zaxxon25

    So … if you’re going to pinstripe your car then why would you only do the back hatchlid? And square it off at the taillight edge?

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    We had these in driver’s ed as well and though they were uninspiring to drive and quite ungainly looking, they worked well and served their purpose quite well. We had a couple of the baby blue ones.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Warms my heart to see a GM car in the scrapyard where they belong. What an embarrassment.

  • avatar
    happycamper

    I drove a Buick Skylark as a teenager. Brown exterior and interior , bench seat, 2.5L with 4 spd manual, no tach. The top speed was 70 mph, the engine would run out of steam in 3rd, and 4th was too tall so the engine didn’t have enough torque to go any faster.

    The gear shifter was pulled directly from a Ford N tractor. It was floor-mounted and almost 2 ft long with a bend halfway up. First gear put the knob directly in front of the radio so the driver couldn’t operate it, second gear resulted in the lever almost horizontal across the bench near the driver’s right leg, 3rd blocked access for the passenger to operate the radio, fourth was somewhere near your passenger’s left leg, and finally, reverse put the shifter directly into your passenger’s crotch (assuming you knew how to pull up on the reverse collar on the shift lever).

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    When it was introduced the Citation was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. The hype was fantastic, and it became the best selling car in the USA – for one year.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I see a flawed, later iteration of Europe’s Renault 16 with stronger motor (V6) & more dealers here. GM did better 6′s. I recall ‘buyer beware’ front drive avoidance with the domestics. X cars were the harbingers.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    My parents neighbor had a V6/auto 81 Citation when I was growing up. He took that thing to 100K without a problem, or at least it seemed so. It was always rolling down the alley to work every morning. He replaced it with a new 94 Cavalier with a V6/auto.

    The speedometer in this car looks almost identical to the one in my old 93 Buick Century. That car had the Buick 3.3 V6 so I bet it would actually get to 85mph.

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    This is a prime example of GM’s complete incompetence in anything smaller than somewhere around a B-body. Did anyone else notice another abomination from GM next to it in the form of a base 95-99 Chavalier (complete with fake portholes)? Is this the line where this junkyard puts every mediocre to utter failure car GM made from 1980-2000?

    With a choice like this it’s no wonder Escorts, K-cars, and Japanese offerings ate GM’s market share.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t say it was a reluctance to put any effort in anything other than the B and C-bodies (and maybe the pickup trucks), but rather GM’s steadfast inclination towards cutting corners for the sake of additional profits. That’s really what sunk the X-body and made nearly every other effort from the company a resounding dud.

      The Citation is a classic case of what happens when a company focuses on quarterly profit at the expense of product quality and then acts like cynical jerka$$es about it when the results come flooding in.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    No story involving oil fire yet?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I was thinking the wiper motor jammed and caught fire, a week after the new MC was installed. But on a crappile like that, who knows?

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        Oil fires on Citations were pretty common, either from the power steering or transmission cooler line spraying oil all over the exhaust manifold.

        Fire goes up, not down. Usually, the lowest point of the damage is where it started. The distributor and wiring is totally wrecked, along with all the firewall stuff. My guess is it started at the rear header. Everything around the front of the engine looks to be well-oiled. Power steering leak at the pump would be my guess.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Mr. Crabspirits, I am amazed by your ability to look at pictures of a wrecked car and determine plausible causes of its demise.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Ah, that might explain what happened to mine (minus the fire part). My brother was learning to drive in it one day, when a huge cloud of white smoke erupted behind the car. It still ran, so I told him to drive it back home. Turns out the transmission puked its juice all over the exhaust. Wrecker came by a week later to put the one-legged syphilitic mule out of its misery.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      ” No story involving oil fire yet? ”

      - Waiting on you Good Sir .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’m surprised no one’s commented on the “estimated 38 mpg highway”. How far we’ve come!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in 85 I had one as a company car. V6 with most options. On the plus side it was roomy and had a soft ride.The sideways radio was unique. The minuses: The”dog bone” top engine mount wore out, a common problem. The replacement was the new and improved part was like a mini-shock absorber. Vastly better with less jerkiness when accelerating. Though the feel of these cars could be better especially with FWD. You figure GM when introduced the most groundbreaking and well made but arguably the most over engineered FWD, the 66 Toronado and 67 Eldorado they would get the FWD thing down pat but with the X-Cars but the bean counters and value engineering win again. Painful to say but the J-Car was a better design than the X-Car but by the time the A-Body was introduced they finally got FWD mid-sized right.

  • avatar
    rmmartel

    Dad bought an early production V6 Citation in 1979 before many had seen the car. We kept it for five or six years. In that time beyond normal wear items it ate exactly one water pump. It turned out to be one of most reliable cars we purchased. Never left us stranded, never broke in strange, unusual or expensive ways. It never tried to kill us but did keep us safe when it was hit.

    Friends had an ’82 Phoenix as well as a Skylark – they never bitched about their X-cars either. I’d take one today if it weren’t rusted out, X11 with the HO V6 please.

  • avatar
    Ostrich67

    My grandfather bought an Olds Omega version after Grandma died. She held the purse strings and absolutely would not let him replace his ’71 Malibu which was held together with duct tape and pop rivets. He bought the Malibu to replace a ’66 Biscayne that was held together with duct tape, pop rivets, and literally, bailing wire. The Biscayne broke a tie rod end on Butler St. in Pittsburgh; he drove the car with one steerable wheel up steep, winding Stanton Ave. to his home in Stanton Heights about a half mile away where he wired up the tie rod. Grandma’s brother Al Trempus had a repair garage in Oakmont; none of our family’s cars failed the PA inspection but he told Grandma that he refused to work on the Biscayne anymore.

    Anyway, the Omega. It was a four-door notch, metallic reddish-brown with a matching velour interior. No vinyl top. I thought it was a good-looking car. I had been keeping my Alfa Spider in his garage during the winter and when he brought the Olds home he parked next to it.

    The Alfa and the Omega.

  • avatar
    craiger

    I turned 17 in 1982. Whenever my feelings of nostalgia for the 80s get too out of hand, I remind myself of wretched cars. The Citation always does the trick.

  • avatar
    davew833

    My dad had two or three of these in the early ’90s before I talked him into buying an Acura Legend. I remember he had to replace the whole front subframe in one of them, which he did himself in his carport working mostly in the dark with inadequate tools. Another one my stepbrother somehow drove through his girlfriend’s garage door, causing major cosmetic damage, but the insurance company put it back together rather than totaling it out. Still scratching my head over that one.

  • avatar
    jrocco001

    We had one of these as a kid. I remember my dad, for reasons I could not at all understand at the time, having to drive it in reverse several miles to the shop for service (with my Mom and my brother and I “leading” the way in our AMC Hornet. I guess the shifter cable broke but who knows. I was only 5 but learned a lot of bad words that day.


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