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Junkyard Gem: 1985 Chevrolet Citation 5-Door Hatchback

Murilee Martin

After the 1973 Oil Crisis and the subsequent skyrocketing demand by Americans for fuel-efficient cars, the bosses at General Motors knew they had to develop a front-wheel-drive compact to compete with the onslaught of gas-sipping imports. This car was the Chevrolet Citation, which debuted in the 1980 model year and was built through 1985. Here's a rare '85 model, spotted in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard.

The Citation replaced the rear-wheel-drive Nova, and it boasted about the same interior space as the Nova on a much smaller footprint. Nearly a half-ton lighter than the Nova and available with fuel-efficient straight-four and V6 pushrod engines, the Citation seemed like just the ticket for American car shoppers then enduring another brutal oil crisis.

Sales were spectacularly good at first, with 811,540 units sold in the 1980 model year and a Motor Trend Car of the Year award as an added bonus (sure, GM in 1979 slipped the automotive press some cars that lacked the torque steer and rear-brake-lockup problems that plagued the production versions).

After the jubilation of the first year of Citation (and Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix) sales, design and quality problems became more apparent to the car-buying public. Meanwhile, Chrysler's K-Cars hit the streets, and Citation sales began their long decline.

For 1985, the Citation got a new dash design, finally ditching the oddball vertical radio design. A mere 62,722 Citations rolled out of the showrooms for the 1985 model year, and that was it for the once-revolutionary new Chevy. Meanwhile, production of the horrifically obsolete Chevette continued for two more years.

If only the optimism of the Citation's early years had survived into the middle of the decade.

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Junkyard Gem: 1985 Chevrolet Citation 5-Door Hatchback originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 06 Nov 2017 10:02:00 EST.