For me, no car is more representative of the early 1980s, at least in North America, than the Chevrolet Citation and its following model years, from 1980 to 1985 when it was cancelled. The Citation replaced the Nova in the Chevrolet line-up, and offered a relatively spirited drive in a smaller, yet roomier package. It was available in several versions, including a hatchback and a four-door. It sold extremely well when it was introduced, no doubt as a consequence of the recent oil crisis, however General Motors was not kind to its new best-seller; it got lazy and dishonest, and paid the price, as the Citation became at the time the most recalled vehicle in history. More about that later.
The Citation offered relatively honest performance, all things considered. It was powered by a 2.8-liter V6 producing 115 horsepower. The X-11 option, which gave owners a whole range of both genuine and visual performance options, later came with a more powerful 135 horsepower V6. The base model was good for a top speed of 108 miles per hour, and a 0-60 time of 9.6 seconds.
Performance, such as it was, wasn’t the problem. The problem with the Chevrolet Citation was that it suffered from lazy, slipshod build quality, compounded by the fact that General Motors sent out specially-designed and tuned cars to testers, knowingly hiding the car’s flaws. Way to go, GM. Of course, the brown stuff eventually hit the fan, GM’s deceit and duplicity were exposed, the Citation sunk into oblivion. That’s actually too bad, because had they fixed the quality issues, it wouldn’t have been a bad car at all.