35,000 Mile 1984 Chevrolet Citation II

In 1980, the Chevrolet Citation was the best-selling car in the US and one of GM’s most-successful vehicle launches of all time. They usually don’t get much love here in the hallowed halls of One Barn Finds Tower but I love that this 1984 Chevrolet Citation II has survived for 35 years in such incredible condition. It can be found here on craigslist in McKenzie, Tennessee with an asking price of $7,900 cash. Thanks to Ian C. for submitting this tip!

The photos are all over the board here but they have provided a few interior photos and a rare engine photo, breaking almost all of craigslist’s rules… It’s nice to be able to see a range of photos for a change. This car looks like it just rolled out of the North Tarrytown, New York plant.

GM’s X-Body cars – the Chevy Citation, Buick Skylark, Pontiac Phoenix, and Oldsmobile Omega – were made for the model years 1980 through 1985. It’s hard to believe that they were such a short-lived model line being as groundbreaking as they were. I had just graduated from high school in 1980 and I was washing and parking cars in a heated, indoor parking garage in a big medical building and I remember these cars distinctly.  They were so unusual from the big, rear-wheel-drive cars that most of the doctors and dentists drove.

Ahh.. a red interior, my favorite. This car is about as close to looking like a new 1984 Chevy Citation as you’ll probably ever find. It has just over 35,000 miles, has never been in an accident, and has excellent paint, according to the seller. The rear cargo area also looks like new and will have more than enough room for a couple of lawn chairs and a cooler for car show duty. No, really, a car like this Citation would be a hit at any car show that allows vehicles this “new”.

The engine is Chevy’s 2.8L V6 with 112 hp. The 1984 Citations were renamed Citation II in an attempt to refresh the image after a series of recalls and problems over the past few years. I don’t think it worked as the Citation went away after the 1985 model year. The seller says that this car runs and drives like new and has cold AC. Are there any Chevy Citation fans out there?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I’m always glad to see common, throw-away cars which have survived for all these years, 35 in this case. I don’t remember the last time I saw a Citation in any condition.

    “Car show that allows vehicles this ‘new’ “: I got a chuckle out of this statement. Reminds me of this story which happened about a decade ago….

    I pulled up to a cruise-in type event which required cars to be 1979 or older. (I don’t have a problem with an event having whatever rules they desire.) I was driving a 1979 Mustang, so I was within the rules. Here was the exchange with the guy controlling the entrance:

    Me: “Hello, where do you want me to park?”
    Him: “What year car is this?”
    Me: “1979. So I can come in.”
    Him: Walks to the front of the car, cocks his head, strokes his chin. “No it’s
    not. It’s a 1984 or 1982 or something. You can’t come in.”
    Me: “No, it’s a 1979. I bought it new. I should know.”
    Him: “No you are wrong. It’s like a 1982.”
    Me: “Do I have to prove it to you?”
    Him: “Yes.”
    Me: So I dig into the glove box and find my insurance card. I show it to him.
    Him: “Well I guess you are right. Go on.”

    I understand he was just doing his job, but he was taking it too seriously. I don’t think the world would have ended if a 1980 car got in. It was somewhat off-putting at the time, but when I look back at it now it is kind of humorous.

    Back to the car, I hope whoever gets it takes it to Cars and Coffee where he or she will field the enjoyable “my _______ had one just like it” comments.

    Thanks Scotty.

    Like 34
    • Vegaman Dan

      I had an 82 Phoenix. Big hatchback, comfortable bench seat, black on black. Always liked Pontiac’s take on the family shared platforms.

      Very reliable, did its job, made no promises it couldn’t keep.

      Like 14
    • Superdessucke

      LOL! I feel your pain. Try going to a BMW CCA Vintage Fest. I think they have a separate show class for every two year increment 2002, one for each model built in the 1960s through 80s, and then “Modern,” the final class for every single car built since 1992. So my poor E36 M3 is competing against a $700,000 2003 Z8 Roadster or whatever those things cost. There’s definitely a bias against newer cars.

      Like 5
      • Kyle Peterson

        But, but the E36 M3 is better than the Z8 Roadster! Can confirm that the E36’s are awesome to cruise around in.

      • Superdessucke

        Yup, and $690,000 cheaper!

        Like 1
      • DAVID BROWER

        BACK IN THE 80’s I USED TO DRIVE MY ISETTA
        TO BMWCCA EVENTS . THEY SAID I COULD STAY BUT
        THAT I COULDN’T PARK WITH THE REAL BMWs .

        TODAY MY ISETTAs ARE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
        AT A BMW EVENT . AMAZING THE DIFFERENCE
        THAT 30 YEARS CAN MAKE .

    • tom

      I took my 1979 silver anniversary edition AMC Concord to a car show and was told to move because it was for old cars. I was parked between a Saturn Sky and an 87 Buick Regal….

      Like 2
  2. Mike Blanche

    We had a 1982 Pontiac Phoenix in that body style (4 dr hatchback) and loved it. Red with red interior. If we could have any car back that we’ve ever owned, it would be that one. We had the Iron Duke and the stick shift, and we never had any problems with it.

    Like 7
    • JMG

      Grew up with a red-on-red Phoenix ’80, myself! Red vinyl… Iron puke 4 and stick. It was a complete lemon when my dad bought it, IN the shop more than at home. But once we worked out all the GM screw-ups and recalls in the drivetrain, it lasted him for 150k miles. I learned to drive in it.

      Memories… The year we bought it, I was 8. My parents took myself and my best friend that summer on a camping road trip from OH to FL keys. We had the car-top carrier loaded, and they folded-down the back seat flat so us kids has a mini play room in the hatchback for the drive. We just played with Star Wars toys and napped in the spacious hatch on the red carpet both directions. I shiver now when I think what would have happened to us in the back if we had gotten into an accident.

      Like 1
      • Mike Blanche

        The fold-down back was one of our favorite features. Slept in there a number of times on various trips. Hard to find anything today, even in larger cars, that can do that.

        Like 1
  3. wallyum

    If something like this was your first car, I can see a certain nostalgia factor creeping in and making this desirable. Aside from that, these were transportation a step above a Flexible Flyer. Can’t imagine the massive lack of interest at a car show.

    Like 5
    • Ralph

      If this was at a car show I would for sure look at it, probably before any other car there and I would definitely want to speak with the owner.

      Like 15
    • Vegaman Dan

      It is *easy* to customize a car. Lots of aftermarket parts for popular cars.

      It is much *harder* to keep a vehicle stock and in good condition all that times.

      Example- tons of Mustangs out there, but do you see a stock Ford Escort wagon? Even a Taurus? A Granada? I have a lot of respect for an original unpopular car still on the roads.

      Like 21
      • Art

        There is a stock low mileage Escort wagon that shows up at some of the local shows in my area in northern Michigan. Being in the rustbelt definitely makes it a rare car for around here. I admit, I shook my head the first time I saw it in the show.

        Like 6
      • grant

        I can honestly say that every single Escort and Taurus I’ve ever seen was completely stock.

        Like 4
  4. Doc

    @ Bob_in_TN Agree with your car show sentiments. Back in the 90’s my then 25 yr old Olds was frowned upon and it being Malaise Era 1977… everyone snickered. Now, when I choose to show it, it gets more looks and I remember when’s.. than the buy and build it muscle catalogue cars. Hands down.
    So when we see a Citation .. big round of applause, love it. That’s what makes the car world cool. Frankly so sick and tired of all the d bag owners and their typical cars that trend in the usual brand direction and such. Boring. Very boring.

    Like 26
  5. That AMC Guy

    Sure looks like those rear plugs would be a challenge to get to! Just possible they’re still original if this car really has only 35K miles.

    Like 1
    • SaabVertGuy

      There is a separate hole in the bottom of the dog bone motor support on top of the engine. You removed one of the mount bolts, rocked the engine forward and reinstalled the bolt utilizing that extra hole that was almost in the middle of the dog bone. That afforded you the extra clearance to attack the rear plugs. A feature on all of the 2.8, 3.1 and 3.4 family of engines.

      Like 5
    • Boatman Member

      A challenge,AMC Guy, but not that bad compared to some.

      Saab guy, I worked on dozens of these from ’81-’86, and I never saw or heard of said dog bone trick!

  6. Dan Almashy

    I bought a new 80 Citation in summer of 79, it was a 2 door coupe, like a hatchback lid on it. Had rally wheels, v6 and 4 speed manual. Loved that car, sold to a friend at work and he drove it ten years. It was dark blue with blue vinyl interior. It was purdy.

    Like 11
  7. John Ervin

    I cannot count the number of 125 transmissions I have replaced in these.. It was the FWD version of the 200, the later year lockup versions were a nightmare as their were about 10 different torque convertors depending on engine/axle combination, and if you got it wrong, the car drove funny. My favorite was putting a hi stall 4 cylinder convertor in a stock V-6 car. It accelerated great, but gas mileage dropped about 2MPG. The opposite was V-6 convertor in a 4 cylinder, killed acceleration, and the car performed like a pregnant slug

    Like 6
  8. Ralph

    “The rear cargo area also looks like new and will have more than enough room for a couple of lawn chairs and a cooler for car show duty.”

    The rear cargo area is missing all the interior panels, these had a finished cargo area.

    Like 4
    • Little_Cars

      Not only that, but a look at those pedals SMH how about they scrub of the mud/clay and spruce up with back to black? Regarding the occasional snobbery exhibited at car shows, I attended a HUGE national sports car meet and concours where there was no category for MG Midgets, just MG other. A bunch of us Midget owners and one Magnette owner had a ball in our dedicated section. About mid-day, I bumped into someone with a Bugeye Sprite and I asked where they had been placed. The Bugeyes and one Austin Sprite from the mid 60s were relegated to the area set aside for Austin Healey 3000s, etc. Crazy making. There was one early MG Midget entered in the Concours and it was a doozy…all original and NOS components, nuts and bolts, deep black on black. Too clean to drive any distance or enjoy on the open road.

      Like 3
  9. Bakyrdhero

    Cars like this always get my attention wherever is see them. I enjoy car hunting when I watch old movies and shows also.
    I’m just noticing now how much a citation resembles the first generation Cavalier as well as the Chevette.

    Like 3
  10. Steve

    Had one that I bought for $25. The clutch pedal bolt snapped and the guy was not mechanically inclined. Drove that car for 5 years. I really beat that car up and it took everything I gave it. Including 4 wheeling in the Swamps of south Florida. I gave it away to a friend before moving north.

    Like 8
  11. Andrew M Pappas

    My brother had the spitting image of this car, except his was a manual, for his first car.

    My parents had a X11 and a notch back. They had their issues but the 2.8 was a strong motor. Rust killed most of these off very quickly though.

    Like 3
  12. Matt K

    I can verify that these get a lot of positive comments at shows. I take my near identical 82 Celebrity coupe (the X and A are the same car underneath) to shows and people really love seeing it. When I had my X-11 it was a hit too. People either knew someone who had one, or they did….or they were too young to remember them and have no idea what they are! Total blast from the past!

    Like 7
  13. S

    I have owned several X cars through the years, and still own one today. However, the ones I owned were always the Buick versions. I never owned a Pontiac or a Chevrolet version so I don’t know what it would be like to have the versatility of the hatchback body style – but I like the idea of having that. As a Buick Skylark, especially if it is a Limited – these cars are VERY nice. They are a great size – i.e. small. With the 4 cylinder power is about adequate, but you get good gas mileage. With the V6, there is plenty of power. What I like about these is that they still had traditional American styling. i.e. lots of chrome! At least in the Buick and Olds versions – nice interiors with nice options. I drove one for many years as my daily driver until it was 20 years old and had over 220,000 miles on it. It was reasonably reliable. These cars did have some problems, especially during the inaugural 1980 model year, but I think they have been portrayed as being much worse than they actually were. If one of these has survived this many years, probably whatever problems it had have been taken care of by now. I remember a friend calling my Skylark a “junior LeSabre”. It was true – it was a much smaller car with just as equally nice an interior, with nice exterior styling and chrome accents in all the right places. I really wish GM had done a more thorough job working out the bugs when they first came out. If they had, these cars would have continued to sell well and they would be fondly remembered today, instead of being practically forgotten. More people should save these. They aren’t expensive to purchase, don’t cost much to fix when they need repairs, and you won’t use much gas driving them around.

    Like 8
    • Ralph

      The bugs didn’t help, but what also didn’t help was GM introducing the J and A cars 24 months after these came out, the J’s were cheaper and the A-body cars were a little bigger and traditional looking, the X-cars were sort of squeezed out, Buicks X-car actually sold well pretty much through its entire run. The Pontiac and Oldsmobile X-cars were the duds of the group, nether made it past 1983-84.

  14. John

    I can’t say I’m a fan, how ever. I drove one for many years as a teenager. It was a tough little car.

    Like 1
  15. Michael

    The 82 Citation had something like 164 recalls. Sister in law had one of the Pontiac version that had many of those recalls. I wish they had video back then as they have now. She took it in for a issue with the rear end of the car making a noise. I went with her. When the car was out on the lift, and eased into the air to look underneath, the car went up in the air, and the whole rear end of the car stayed on the ground. Tires, rear suspension, shocks. All stayed on the ground. Most extrodenary thing I had ever seen. I know that is hard to believe, that is why I wish I could have video taped it. These cars had that issue. It was dangerous. Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobiles, and Buicks.

    Like 5
    • S

      What that had to be was the rear track bar must have become disconnected from the rear suspension. There’s no other way that could happen. That’s how you take the rear springs out of those cars. They used the same rear suspension design on the fwd A body and J body cars. It could have rusted maybe? That isn’t a common issue on these, I’ve never heard of that.

      Like 1
      • Boatman Member

        Neither have I.

  16. Rhett

    Time hasn’t been kind to the X-Bodies, and that’s a shame. At the time, these cars were a technological standout. Yes, GM still had a lot to learn about cranking out mass produced small front drivers, but these were handsomely styled, practical and with a V-6, could be fairly quick. They had great success in SCCA sedan racing for quite a few years, and In X-11, T-Type, SX or SJ trim had enough performance options to be interesting and collectable. If these cars had a true flaw, it was the early model front seats – absolutely the worst in any car I’d ever driven.

    John’s converter story reminds me that GM cars of this era had wildly different levels of performance: we had two identical 1980 Citations on the used car lot, both were two door hatch’s with 2.8/stick drivetrains. The blue one was a dog, the red one positively screamed. Saw the same thing with 301 Pontiacs and 3.8 front drive Centuries. Never knew what you’d get, but if they were hot they stayed hot, wasn’t a fluke…

    And like every thing good that GM ever did, as soon as they perfected the car they dropped it from production.

    Make mine a 84/85 T-Type Fuelly HO/Stick Coupe..

    Like 1
    • S

      Likely the rear axle ratio made a difference here, as several were offered – but the rear axle was inside the transmission. You couldn’t just change it out. You got whatever you got from the factory.

    • Boatman Member

      As I recall the X bodies came with different axle ratios.

  17. CCFisher

    This one has a grille from a 1981.

    I had a 1980 X-11. Silver, black interior, V6, 4-speed, and every single option available except the automatic and cruise control (not available with the 4-speed). A/C, custom interior, tilt steering, intermittent wipers, rear defogger, light group, AM/FM/CB, power antenna, sunroof, power windows, power locks, power hatch release, and the mechanical swing-out windows controlled by levers above the driver’s head. It was reasonably quick for the day, handled well, had more room for people and cargo than my parents’ Grand Prix, but broke frequently. Six more months in development would have done wonders for these cars.

    Like 2
  18. Scott smith

    I had a Red X-11 it was fun to drive and didn’t look too bad for the day.. It wasn’t a race car but it could hold its own during this time period since no cars had much horsepower, big brother was trying to help us out again, not..I thought the car handled good and was comfortable to travel in with plenty of Leg Room and cargo space .. I drove mine from WV to Texas and it wasn’t to bad . It did really well .. I Just couldn’t keep the 4 speed Transmission in it, It had the four speed with the high output v6.. I’d take it back today just for the nostalgia..

  19. JCA

    We bought a Pontiac Phoenix new in 1980. Nothing but problem after problem within months. Total lemon. We traded it back in for a leftover 1979 Bonneville. That Bonneville was a truly fantastic road car. No regrets on that move.

    Like 1
  20. Comet

    Often at car shows I find the stories behind well preserved survivors to be just as interesting as the car itself. This is a nice old car, and I’d like to hear it’s story. Thanks to everyone keeping these unloved orphans alive.

    Like 2
  21. 71FXSuperGlide

    This thread has almost as many comments as the Rolex one did. :-D

    I had one of these a company vehicle. It was a decent car, and I racked up something like 60K miles in two years without any issues. Surprising you don’t at least see the occasional stray one around, but I can’t recall seeing one for some time now.

    The X-11 with the 4 speed was a much more interesting vehicle tho.

  22. oldsoldie

    I’ve owned 3 x bodies, the 85 that looked identical to this one I just sold about 10 years ago. Only 60k miles, but it looked bad since someone had repainted it over the alligatored original color. It went for 600 as it was such a white elephant. My fave was a loaded 81 Phoenix, light brown with a white vinyl half roof. Power windows, locks, seats and air. Had a check engine light on when I bought it. I had the carb rebuilt by a pro. When I came home from work, it smelled hot and I opened the hood to see the side of the cylinder head and exhaust manifold glowing red. Replaced the intake gasket and it served me well for years afterwards. They don’t call them iron duke for nothing. But despite being a small car with 4 cylinder they didn’t get very good gas mileage.

  23. Stevieg

    I would love this, but not for this kind of money.
    I had a brown 1980 Citation, 4 door hatch, 4 cylinder & automatic. I bought it from a friends grandma for $100.00. I absolutely loved that car. It was 9 years old when I bought it and all the recalls performed. Nice car!
    I took a 1977 Fury to a car show once. Some snooty old guy with some sort of muscle car there (been a few years, I don’t remember what it was…but I remember I liked it) asked me why I was showing that piece of garbage.
    I liked my Fury. Slant 6, 3 on the tree, manual steering & power brakes. You don’t see many like that!
    Anyhow, he was so rude and condescending I never went back to that show again.
    I think I will just drive my toys & not show them. No need to be judged.

    Like 3
  24. Just Me.

    I owned many of these cars back in there day. I bought and fixed there few problems and drove them just long enough to make sure they were okay to sell and away they would go. They were one of the best selling cars I ever sold in my one man garage of over 35 years. If I recall correctly I read that they were Motor Trends # 1 car of the top 10 worst car of the 1980 year. Maybe someone else out there recalls this also. There was one that really stood out for me . I liked it so much that I had it for over 16 years. You see I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania. We have very hard winters lots of snow with loads of road salt. This what accounts for the 2 floors I had to replace in it for our Pa. state inspections and safety reasons. Other than that over the 16 years + that I owned it I put 1 exhaust valve in it, 1 each front and 1 rear engine seals, 1 transmission and routine normal things like tires, exhaust, etc., etc., etc. I always kept it serviced up to date. I was very diligent about the 5,000 miles complete service jobs. It was a 2.8 V-6 engine with a/t It toke 4 – 1/2 quarts of oil with a filter change at the same time, factory spec’s. but I always just put the 5 quarts in it during the service making it check 1/2 quart over full. At the time of the next service I would check the oil before changing it . It would be right on the full line every time. Meaning it only used 1/2 quart of oil in 5,000 mile changes. Well I finally junked the car after I quit running it after over 16 years of great service. I still have the engine and trans axle sitting in my garage. I would not be afraid to put it in another car and use it. It still had know engine noise or smoke what so ever. Well wait till you hear this. It had just over 387,000 miles on it when I pulled the engine out of the car. It needed another floor in it for a new Pa. safety inspection. The problem with that was I would have to had fastened it up on the inside of the doors it was so rusted away. That’s right over 387,000 miles. Well so much for the # -1 worst car of the year ! I think my past history says different ! It was the best for me !

    Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      @Just Me. — Why are you holding onto that engine and transaxle? Snowmobile project? Potential museum donation to the GM Heritage Center?

  25. David Ulrey

    Love the condition of this. They really were decent enough cars overall. Apparently I’m the only one of the opinion that the price could be a bit lower. That’s good for the seller though.

  26. Just Me

    Well, when I removed it from the car I really would have put it in another car but like I said before, the winters around here in Pa. Mountain area are very harsh on the bodies of cars from all of the salt used on roads. So guess what happened. . there wasn’t any cars around in good enough condition left to bother with looking for. So I have a old skid steer loader that I thought if I ever needed a engine for it that I would adapt it to fit that. I still have the older skid loader and it is running good so that never happened either. So I haven’t really thought about it till I saw the car posted for sale on barn finds. When I saw the comments on it I just thought I would tell my history on it. It was a great old car for me !

    Like 2
  27. Jason V

    The ‘85 citation had much smoother wheel covers, the wheel covers on this car always reminded me of the first generation Citation. We had an ’81 and an ’85, and both went for mile! Or kilometres. The Citation II went over 365,000 kms, the Citation I went a bit less as it drove into a ditch in the fog. The rear hatch was great, and I can confirm I camped in the back reasonably comfortably a few times. I still have both Citation badges on my desk, for me, a badge of honour!

  28. Tim

    I remember when I got my 1980 Oldsmobile Omega 2 door brougham with 21k original miles. I opened up the garage door it was like a brand new car! The motor doesn’t even turn over once for it to fire up! I brought it to ONE car show everyone went nuts!!!

  29. Darryl

    This brings back memories of a simpler time. I had just graduated high school, and I had an ’81 Chevette and my good friend had an ’81 Citation. Probably not 150 horsepower between the two cars! But we had loads of fun in them and the Chevette lasted me through my first tour in the Navy. Pig slow and the quality of a toaster, but they did what we needed them to do.

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