Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Citation

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

This 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.

The 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.

Ever heard of the superhero Single Person?

The weird superhero theme continued with Perfect Couple.

The first Chevy of the 80s!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Jrocco001 Jrocco001 on May 21, 2014

    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.

  • 1981X-11 1981X-11 on Apr 03, 2015

    GM X-Body – Citation X-11 Facebook page. Almost 500 members, over 1000 pics, and every-year X-car dealer brochure in the Photo Albums section. Ha! https://www.facebook.com/groups/chevycitations/

  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.