What were they thinking? Chevrolet Citation

I think all of us car people will agree that the worst crime a car can commit is being boring. And the Chevrolet Citation is one of the worst offenders there has ever been.

The Citation was actually a big departure for General Motors in America. The GM X platform was the giant’s first front-wheel-drive chassis and significantly downsized – the Citation was nearly two feet shorter than the Nova it replaced – plus it was a hatchback.

The concept may have been forward-thinking, but the execution wasn’t. Though the lines and proportions were broadly the same as the European Talbot Alpine and Volkswagen Passat, it wasn’t anything like as attractive. And the interior, though roomy, was a sea of cheap plastics in nauseating colours.

Under the bonnet were a choice of an anemic 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, noted for running like a bag of spanners, and a 2.8 V6 that produced about as much power as a vacuum cleaner. The manual and automatic gearboxes were no better.

Handling was a nightmare, too, even the four-cylinder version suffering pronounced torque steer. Even the sporty X-11 model was no match for the Golf GTi.

Introduced in 1979, initial demand was strong, 800,000 units being sold during the first year. But it quickly gained a reputation for poor build quality and unreliability, leading to demand dwindling rapidly. Even so, over a five year production run, 1.6 million were sold which just goes to show that, at the time, American car buyers really would put up with any old rubbish.

In many ways, the Chevy Citation was ahead of its time as a FWD, mid-size American car. Chrysler’s K-cars followed in 1981, while the Ford Taurus didn’t arrive until 1985. But, whichever way you cut it, the Citation was an awful slice of misery that did nothing to enrich the life of its owners on the rare occasions it worked properly.

By Only Motors

Images via Favcars.com

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