Abandoned History: The Life and Times of Edsel, a Ford Alternative by Ford (Part IV)

In our last edition of Abandoned History, we found ourselves in the earliest days of Edsel sales in 1958. The new company offered a full lineup of four sedan-based models and three different wagons. But because Edsel failed so spectacularly, 1958 was the only year it had a broad product offering. Four of seven models were eliminated before the company’s second model year.


Last time we covered the cheapest of the one-offs, the Pacer. Its near entry-level status confused customers as it wasn’t exactly a cheap vehicle at $2,700 ($27,973 adj.) before options like a heater or radio. Pacer was also based on a Ford, but priced more like a Mercury. Still, the Pacer found 19,057 customers in its only year; many more than the upmarket Citation found during its outing.  

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Economical American Compacts From 1982

Our recent Rare Rides coverage of the Chevrolet Citation made one thing very clear: We need more Citation content. Today’s 1982 Buy/Drive/Burn lineup was suggested by commenter eng_alvarado90, who would like to see all of you struggle. Citation, Aries, Escort, all in their most utilitarian formats. Let’s go.

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Rare Rides: The Chevrolet Citation Story, Part II

We continue our Chevrolet Citation coverage today, just after the economy car’s 1980 introduction to critical acclaim and huge sales figures. Unfortunately for GM, the Citation’s true personality was quickly exposed, and things were entirely downhill from there.

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Rare Rides: The Chevrolet Citation Story, Part I

Born at the turn of the Eighties during a very lackluster period in the American automotive landscape, the Chevrolet Citation was a successful entry into the hot compact segment. It debuted to immediate sales success as a budget used car buy and won a major award. Could it be the ultimate economy car for the Eighties?

It’s Citation time.

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QOTD: Birthday Follies?

Today’s QOTD requires those who respond to give away a bit of information about themselves — their age. Or, y’know, you could just grab a random year from the ether.

Whichever route you choose, our question is this: what is, in your opinion, the worst car on sale the year you were born?

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QOTD: Can You Make Something From Nothing?

Silk purse from a sow’s ear. Lemonade from lemons. The hackneyed clichés are as endless as the bluster from talking heads on television. On occasion, though, these old phrases hold a bit of water (sometimes that water’s in the cylinder head, but whatever).

There are plenty of terrible cars littering America’s past, but a few of them did have interesting variants. I’ll point to a silver lining in one of The General’s darkest clouds: the Chevrolet Citation X-11.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chevrolet Citation Hatchback

The Chevrolet Citation is so frustrating mostly because it was such a great opportunity for General Motors to own the 1980s; if it had worked as well in reality as it did on paper, it would have obliterated the competition. A roomy, modern, front-wheel-drive car with fuel economy far superior to the primitive late-70s Chevy Nova it replaced, and it was pretty good-looking in a genuinely American way …

… but it ended up being as much a humiliating disaster for GM as Operation Eagle Claw was for the Jimmy Carter presidency.

Citations aren’t easy to find now, but strangely well-preserved examples keep showing up in the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. Here’s a very clean ’81 I found in Denver a couple of weeks ago.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Chevy Citation II 5-Door Hatchback

Ah, the General Motors X-body cars! Always good for some anecdotes from readers about rust-through on two-year-old cars, amazing quantities of warranty repairs, and Stuka-dive-style depreciation graphs. After the Citation, the Chevy Corsica seemed like a fine automobile.

So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this ’81 Citation, this frighteningly rusty ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, this ’82 Citation, this ’83 Citation, and this ’84 Omega, and (because I just can’t resist shooting these things when I see them, no doubt because I believe this ’84 X-body Pontiac to be rivaled only by this 1986 Plymouth Reliant wagon for the dubious prize of Worst Car I’ve Ever Driven), this late-production ’84 Citation II.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chevrolet Citation

The well-publicized reliability troubles of the GM X-body family caused General Motors plenty of image damage during the 1980s, but the Chevy version sold well (at first). Now, of course, most are gone, but examples turn up in wrecking yards every once in a while these days. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this frighteningly rusty ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, this ’82 Citation, this ’83 Citation, and this ’84 Omega. Now I’ve found another ’81, with a very nice interior and no apparent rust, in a Denver yard.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chevrolet Citation, Rock Salt Sandblasting Edition

This is the third week in Themed Junkyard Find Week Madness. We started with 21st Century Junkyard Find Week, then had Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week, and now we’ve staggered right into Rusty Junkyard Find Week. Next week, I might return to ordinary jumbled-up Junkyard Finds, or I might subject you to an entire month of Chrysler LH Junkyard Finds.

For now, though, let’s finish up our third Themed Junkyard Find Week with a case of genuinely puzzling rust.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Citation

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1983 Chevrolet Citation

We’ve seen an ’81 Citation and an ’82 Citation in this series, so let’s continue down GM’s Bad Memory Lane with a 1983 version of the car that damaged The General’s image even more than the Vega. Somehow, this car stayed on the street— or at least out of the wrecking yard— for 29 years, but now it awaits crushing in a Denver self-serve wrecking yard.

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1984 Chevy Citation Immortalized By Modelmaker With Eye For Hooptie-Correctness

Plenty of builders of plastic car models do a pretty good job doing “weathered” kits, but most focus on romantic images of Route 66-drivin’ classics rusting beautifully behind a wholesome-looking 1951 service station. I think what we really need is more super-accurate models of iconic American hoopties, and I don’t just talk the talk! So, it brings joy to my heart to see that a professional modelmaker truly understands proper hooptieness.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Citation

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chevrolet Citation

When GM finally decided to muster its vast resources and engineering talent and build a front-wheel-drive compact car… well, things didn’t go so well. The sclerotic GM bureaucracy described a few years earlier by John DeLorean in On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors produced a car that looked like a fat Chevette, got its power— if that’s the word for it— from the rough-as-a-crab’s-backside Iron Duke pushrod four, and suffered from very public reliability problems from day one. GM sold quite a few Citations, but the “First Chevy of the 80s” is a rare find indeed today. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver yard a few days ago.

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  • Lou_BC While we discuss Chinese cars, Chinese politics, and Chinese global desires, I'm looking at TTAC and Google display advertising for Chinese tires. They have nukes aimed at us but their money and products are acceptable to consumers and business?
  • TheTireWhisperer And a thankful Memorial day to all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Take some time today to realize that virtually zero soldiers had died defending your border.
  • Tassos As somebody who is NOT a stupid fanatic about EVs one way or the other:No manufacturer has built a "Better Tesla" EV yet. Most have tried, we wait for TOyota only (last hope for the Tesla haters)UNLESS a DIRT CHEAP Model 2 comes along (will never happen in the next 2 or 3 years), Do NOT expect that 7% to go to even 10%, let alone the ... 30% clueless Idiot Joe Biden voters expect. If anything, PLUG INS and HYBRIDS may, in the SHORT term, bring the 7% down.
  • Pig_Iron 💝