X’cellent Original: 1980 Chevrolet Citation X-11

061516 Barn Finds - 1980 Chevrolet Citation X11 - 1

This 1980 Chevrolet Citation X-11 is in unbelievable, original condition! Like ’em or not, I hope that at least some of you can appreciate cars that have been preserved, whether they’re worthy of being preserved in your opinion or not. This one is listed on eBay in West Covina, California with a current bid price of just over $2,600.

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The seller found this car in a garage and although the 93-year old original owner wasn’t ready to sell it, she assured him that he would be the first one on the list when the time came to get rid of it. Two years later, he bought the car, and he’s now selling it.. that ol’ story again.. I shouldn’t be surprised, but for me a better story would have been that this gentleman had been looking for this exact car and he was going to keep it and love it forever; not flip it. At least the new owner will hopefully love it and keep it for a long time.

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These cars don’t exactly win many popularity contests when it comes to most folks’ idea of collector cars, or even good cars. The Citation was made from 1980 to 1985, right after I graduated from high school, so maybe that’s why I’ve always liked them, more for the memories than anything. This one is in amazing condition, as you can see from the photos. If a person were going to get a Chevy Citation, this exact X-11, this one right here, is the one that I would think they would want. You simply will never find another one this nice, probably ever again in the history of the planet (too strong?)..

061516 Barn Finds - 1980 Chevrolet Citation X11 - 4

There are simply zero flaws in this car, it’s as nice as it was when it left the factory. Well, I see a wrinkle in the carpet, and it may be a bit faded, but that’s all that I can see that isn’t perfect. The seats, front and rear, are like new, the rear compartment is like new, and on the exterior, the wheels are perfect. But, the seller says that it’s missing the side scoops and there is a crack in one of the side marker lights, but a new lens is on the way; no word about the scoops. I guess there are a few little flaws, so much for my zero flaws theory.

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And, right on cue, the engine looks like it just rolled out off of the factory floor in either Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or North Tarrytown, New York. This car only has 54,379 miles on it which is about 1,530 miles a year since 1980. I have a car that I drive 40,000 miles a year and one that I drive 20 miles a year, this one is somewhere in the middle. This is the only 4-cylinder available in 1980, the infamous 2.5L Iron-Duke with around 90 hp. This car has the optional automatic transmission and the AC is said to be working well, too. This car is a crazy blast from the past. It’s in incredible shape and has an incredible story. I, for one, would love to have this car, more for the memories of the era than anything. Are there any fans of the X-11 out there?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Bob S

    I remember the photo on the cover of a car magazine (Motor Trend or Car and Driver?) and how this car was going to revolutionize the industry. Car of the Year as I recall…..then the hoopla turned to derision. I like how space efficient these were. I’d say I like this . Never driven one, but have driven the iron Duke in a Monza. The real problem was if you compared plastic trim and build accuracy to that that of an Accord. It was evident that the US car industry was going down..

  2. Peter L.

    I had a regular Citation and apart from steering difficulty when cold, it was a very good car.

    • Mark S Member

      The Teflon seals on the spool valve would eat grooves in the aluminum housing. The cold steering difficulties that you were experiencing would have gotten worse with time. The rebuilt steering rack were better than the originals as they were bored out and a stainless steel sleeve was installed, but they were a real bear to get into the car. I replaced many and swore at every one of them. There were other mechanical flaws in these cars that were expensive repairs and that is why you don’t see them much they were not worth fixing and would end up at the bone yards by the hundreds. This car is at the right mileage to need a steering rack.

      • boxdin

        I remember how the steering would lock up and have to be jerked to free it up and turn.

  3. RayT Member

    There’s a reason cars like this are found in low-mileage, unmodified condition, Scotty: who the heck would want to drive ’em? I’ve used electric grinders that were smoother than the Iron Puke engine, the interiors were cheap and none-too-comfortable, and build “quality” was pathetic. The perfect car for short, ocasional drives to the corner….

    I drove a couple back in the day and found them far from appealing. The Japanese and Europeans were turning out cars that were more fun — or, at worst, more pleasant — to drive, and were assembled with much better care and materials. The GM X-Cars could have been decent, but were let down by the details.

    My guess would be that someone might snap this up for a collection of 1980s cars, but wouldn’t bother to add many miles to its total. Personally, I’d look for a Mazda GLC (a close contender for Dullest Car Ever) instead. This one’s a novelty!

  4. Danno

    For the quantity of them GM sold, you’d think the road would be littered with them these days. Pretty rare sight, though. I recall the “Eurosport” trim made me pretty excited, when it first came out.
    This one’s certainly been preserved nicely.

  5. Ken Nelson Member

    My 80 Phoenix had the toughest cloth upholstery i’ be ever seen – my boys couldn’t hurt it regardless how rough they were in the car. They were known as X cars as they seemed to be an experiment in FWD. We’re known for swapping ends during braking due to rear wheel lockup – my ex ended up between two trees one wet day when she braked in a curve, but fortunately no damage. I went back to same spot same day and duplicated the spin but was ready & caught it. I had rear shoes changed same day.

  6. John K

    Like Peter L. I also had a base Citation. Not a terrible car for the day. Mine had the V6 with a manual transmission. Driving characteristics were very much like a 70’s land yacht: numb steering; floaty ride; etc. But it got me to where I wanted to go. Sure build quality wasn’t very good, but back then you just accepted it with cars from Detroit and went on your way.

    I thought all X-11’s had the V6, so seeing an iron duke 4 with a column shift automatic surprises me.

    • Hugh Mc

      I recall that in 1980 the X11 was just decals. In 1981 the suspension and engine was upgraded. We bought a 1981 new. The High output 2.8 with 4 speed was a fun car to drive. I wouldn’t mind having another one if the price was right.

      • Laureen Findrick

        Is this Citation still for sale and way is it located.

  7. JW454

    Nice looking car. I recall these were everywhere through the eighties. As with most cars of the period, they had rust problems. I like the color combination on this one. It’s better than the orange ones with peanut butter interior.

  8. Tom

    I learned to drive in a 1981 Citation. Ours was gold with a brown interior. There is good reason there aren’t many around as the interiors literally melted away in the sun and the bodies started to rust the moment you drove the car home.

    If I recall, this was one of the first cars to have a multi function stalk off the left side of the steering column. I can remember my dad breaking it with his knee a couple of times which required expensive dealer intervention.

    At least ours was a V6 so it had a bit of pull unlike that 2.5l 4 which was really anemic.

    • Rick

      Our high school used the 1981 model for our on-road drivers ed course. Complete with the second set of pedals on the passenger side, of course. The nightmare of mashing the gas pedal and not much happening….

  9. Jim G.

    Yellow odometer flag is showing in the mileage pic.
    Here’s what that may mean to the next owner…

    https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19790424&id=kHVQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9REEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4766,4447269&hl=en

    • redwagon

      @jim g. how do you find articles like that? my word man you had to know it was there to find it.

      parents had an early 1980 probably w/o the yellow odometer flag. i recall how nice it was in snow and ice with fwd. i did not stick around at home too long to hear or see much of any repairs that needed to be made.

    • nessy

      Oh I remember that stupid flag coming up on my Aunt’s 80 X-11. If I recall, it was yellow or light orange with the words “Catalyst” and it covered the miles on the car.

  10. Joe Nose

    I remember distinctly when this car came out. I was relatively recently out of college, and by coincidence both my dad and I were looking for new cars. We went down to Hory Chevrolet and were basically ignored. They had no X11 demo, didn’t know if they were going to get one but they had one base car in white with a blue interior, and appeared to be bored by the opportunity. This would have been dad’s third consecutive Chevy.

    Never again; the die was cast. Our mutual searches resulted in dad getting a Corolla SR5 Liftback and me, an Escort SS wagon. I wanted an FWD wagon, and he wanted to have fun. Guess the gene pool was depleted by the time I rolled along.

    • NickF

      I was a Chevrolet salesman. The best thing you ever did for yourself (as we all now know) was go another direction! In that day GM had 66% market share!

  11. Kincer Dave Member

    I learned to drive in a 81 two tone brown and tan 4 door with a v6, this car brings back memories, it was my mom’s car and she loved it, she piled the miles on selling real estate, it was the first car she wasn’t afraid to drive in the snow with. It never gave her any major problems that i I remember.

  12. BradL

    I survived the 80s without owning one of these beasts. I’d prefer to keep it that way.

  13. AMCSTEVE

    I got my license in 80 driving one of these in high school and also drove a crap load of them at Long Chevrolet as a porter.
    These were the worlds first disposable cars. The X-11 was just a sticker package/ trim lebel. Although most were v-6 they could be ordered like this one. These were the first cars designed and built for obsolescence so with that in mind they accomplished exactly what the engineers wanted them to do, which was be total junk by the last car payment. BRILLIANT LOL

  14. Fred W.

    They were junk compared to the Japanese cars at the time which were starting to be quality vehicles, but a few of these (the ones that were babied like my sister’s) drove for many miles before failing. This one is a time capsule and should be preserved in a collection or museum just to show what an 80’s econobox looked like when new. For some reason it looks way better to me now than it did back then.

  15. Rocco

    I’ve been looking for any photo’s of an X-11 with “side scoops”, and can’t find one. Where were they suppose to be attached?

  16. barry Thomas

    Bought a new ’80 Skylark, which is basically the same package. Nicely finished little car, BUT bar none, the worse car that I have ever owned. I believe my experience mirrored most X car owners at the time. Rushed to market without being fully developed. Too bad, as the concept was good.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

  17. MH

    I’m sure the seller only paid her a few hundred dollars for it. I hate people that take advantage of the elderly.

  18. 70 king

    I saw one of these on a recent Craigslist ad, the owner had fit a Cadillac 4.9 V8 in it and the work looked first rated. it even had a four speed manual. was said to drive nice with plenty of power. the iron duke or /2.8 not so much..
    it is in fantastic shape though.

  19. nessy

    Oh how I like this car. My aunt bought one of the first new 80 Citations from our local dealership in April of 79 for her 50th birthday. An X-11 coupe. Dark blue bottom with light gray on top. Everyone flipped over that car. It looked so modern at the time. I think these were the first new “1980s” model cars introduced in early 79 and I remember people making a big deal over that. V6 Automatic. It was pretty quick and never gave her any troubles. She traded the car in for a new 96 Impala SS which she still drives today. She is now almost 88. I wish she kept the X-11, so does she. The coupe with the trunk was the best looking Citation, at least to me. Thanks for bring back a good memory.

  20. Steven C

    I remember going to street rod nats as a kid in the 80’s and it was popular for a while to cut the back end off these hatchback one’s and make trailers from them to pull behind the streetrod. They were cool looking and very functional small trailers.

  21. Chebby

    Without the H.O. V6 engine, first offered in 1981, this is just a crappy regular Citation with a tape stripe.

    In 1980 my folks bought a 4-door, 4-speed w/Iron Duke as their first new car. They got ten hard-fought years out of it before it expired at only 102k miles. It was a great design and concept, very poorly executed by GM.

    I too would rather not hear the ‘original loving owner’ story if all the seller is doing is flipping it for a buck. Then I expect him to add some value, like dyeing the carpets, replacing the side scoops, etc.

  22. Christopher

    These are a love hate relationship for me. I love the styling of citations but they really were junk. It would have to be a show car . Drive it much and it will become ruined quickly.

  23. That Guy

    My first and only brand-new car was a 1982 X-11, which I bought soon after I graduated from college. From 1981 on, the X-11 was a more serious sports sedan than the 1980 cars; they all had the V6, and there were a lot of wheel and suspension upgrades over the base Citation. Mine was a 4-speed manual, though automatic was also available. It was decently quick by 1982 standards, and handled pretty well too. I still think it was a very handsome car, and it sounded great.

    But the build quality was 1980’s GM, meaning lousy. It was definitely way behind anything from Japan. Rear brake lockup was guaranteed during a panic stop, or anything even close. By the time I sold it, an alloy casting at the front of the engine was disintegrating, and coolant was peeing out a hole. That was at around 9 years old and 90K miles. Durable it was not, though it still looked really good inside and out.

    It’s fun to see such a clean Citation, but I have no desire to own one again.

  24. Joe

    The more complicated new vehicles become to repair, combined with tougher inspections requiring EVERY system to be code free to pass, make cars like this more appealing to me all the time. It seems it’s almost mandatory you drop $500 and bend over every time something needs to be fixed anymore.

  25. JB

    Had an ’81 as a company car. It was our 2nd FWD (Civic #1) and first lift back. Love the lift back design & went on to own several Saab 900’s instead of ever getting a pick-up!

  26. jtnc

    In late 1979 I went to buy a new car. My top three candidates were Citation, Toyota Celica GT and Mazda 626. I tried the Citation and liked its styling, engineering modernity and (optional) V6 engine. But even then the interior design and execution and overall quality seemed far, far behind the two Japanese cars. I picked the Mazda narrowly over the Toyota, primarily for its more comfortable seats and (relative) rarity. Two years later the 626 was totalled when a Caprice wagon ran a red light and I bought a next-gen 82 Celica GT to replace it. That gen Celica was a big step forward. But, I digress, I think I saved myself a lot of aggravation by not buying the Citation.

  27. Car39

    My aunt’s final car was a V6 version of this car. Never gave her much grief, but she did back out of a detached garage and hit the house she had lived in for over 50 years. I asked my uncle how fast he was driving the kitchen when he hit the car. He got the joke, she wasn’t happy.

  28. Prowler

    My mom bought one of these new in 1980
    Just the base car. Silver..grey inside
    She loved that car….especially in snow storms…she felt like she could go anywhere anytime compared to her 1975 Monte Carlo that she traded in.
    I just remember how it shook when you turned on the air conditioning

  29. CarGuy

    Had a new 1980 Citation 2-door, light gray over burgundy, 4-cylinder, 4-speed with white interior, rally wheels and raised white letter tires. Great gas mileage and a hoot to drive, s real head-turner. Every time it rained the horn relay burned out. Fixed the seal around the windshield.
    Then the clutch tension self-adjustor — a cheap plastic piece that looked like it belonged in a Scotch tape dispenser — popped out as I was driving to the dealer with the recall notice in hand. Quickest appointment ever. I handed him the paper and the plastic and left. I knew how to reset the tension.
    Long story short, it had four recall notices in the glove box when I traded it in for a new 82 4-door citation (2 kids in car seats).
    Finally scored when I bought a new ( repo with 26k) 1986 Celebrity Eurosport wagon. Drove the wheels off that. Haven’t driven a Chevy since.
    Having said all that, if I had the cash, I’d buy this X-11 and just look at it.

  30. Prowler

    I just looked at it on ebay
    I think the old gal got swindled $8262.00 for a citation….I think they must have sold her the undercoating…lifetime wax job and every extended warranty they could come up with.
    In 1980 I bought a Honda civic for $4890.00 and that was sticker…..the days when Honda wouldn’t discount…sticker or somebody else will buy it
    Was there really that big a spread between the two?
    I guess that’s why it’s rare

  31. pappy2d

    The Duke, with an automatic and AC…..in an front wheel drive platform.
    Much like a boat purchase. The 2 best days of the experience are the 1st and last.

  32. Jay

    My dad bought a 1980 X-11 brand new. It was a red coupe with a six cylinder and a four speed manual transmission. It was fun to drive. It didn’t last very long though. It rusted along the windshield pillars, leaked and caused the floor boards to rot out. The car was toast before reaching ten years old.

  33. Jeff G

    My brother had a citation when he was in college. He drove it for years but man did he get a lot of grief about “The Ci”!

  34. Jim J

    I owned 3 Citations. The first one was an ’80 with a V-6. It was a good car, but had a death wish! No 2 was an another ’80, 2.5 stick that I bought from a used car dealer. Loved it, had enough power to pass nearly every gas station along the road. The 3rd was an ’81 X-11 that, well, I found a slightly wrecked ’81 X-11, and a clean, straight body– on the same day! So I built one. I drove that car for a couple years, but due the fact that it was an automatic, I let it go.

    There were several other Citations that family and friends owned. Seems that all were loved for different reasons!!

  35. gord

    still have a “real” x11. ho v6, tailfin, correct x11 labelled rims, louvres etc
    gord in ontario canada

    Like 1
    • Scotty G Staff

      Nice car, Gord!

  36. Phil

    I was seriously considering winning this car! After reading all of your posts I will put that money in my 1976 914 2.0! Great blog! Thanks! #professormosier

  37. Chris A.

    Mom bought one used off lease and with the V6/Auto/hatchback, she was happy. With snows, it was a good winter car until the salt ate it. Back in the ’80s you tried to make them last longer by having the car “Ziebarted” but rust always found a way in underneath the undercoating. The build quality was horrendous compared to the Japanese cars, but both rusted badly in the 80s.

  38. Doug

    Thanks for posting this interesting page and photos!. Look, if there is an issue with a cars operation it is not the fault of the model. There is a mechanical problem that needs fixed. If your car rust out it’s because you live on the coast or by the salt flats.
    There is no point in putting these cars up or down. Either you have an X-11 or you don’t. It is best to buy these as cheap as possible or you miss the chance to buy a much newer car.
    Hagerty Classic Cars magazine #43 Winter 2012 issue calls The X-11 endangered of being extinct like the Plymouth Champ. The Mercury Capri is also shown as endangered.
    Those Capri are neat looking.

  39. Vince Geddes

    I have a beautiful black on black x11 just like the one on top of the page that I`m thinking about possibly parting with. It`s a factory 4 speed HO V6 car, console, buckets, tach and gauges, cowl induction hood and citation stamped aluminum wheels. Car has 94,000 original miles and is in great condition! Hard to find these anymore.

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