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Clean Survivor: 1985 Chevrolet Citation X-11

With 1985 marking the final year of production for the Chevrolet Citation, there were many people who didn’t lament its passing. The Citation was a competent car, but only really became a good thing to drive in X-11 form. Barn Finder Jack M spotted this very nice example for us, so thank you for that Jack. It is located in Morristown, Tennessee, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The asking price for the Citation has been set at $7,500.

The Citation was not an unattractive car, but in standard form, they also weren’t particularly inspiring. The early examples also suffered from some notable quality control issues, and although Chevrolet did their best to address these, the car’s reputation did suffer as a result. The X-11 did a fair bit to transform an uninspiring car, and the addition of a black grille, a nice set of alloy wheels, and a few stripes certainly made for a more attractive car. This one is a clean looking example. The Bright Red paint looks to be in good condition, with a real depth of shine to it. The body looks to be straight, and all of the panel gaps appear to be consistent. Those alloy wheels seem to be in good condition, while the car delivers some semblance of muscle car aspirations by the addition of a cowl induction hood.

The interior of the Citation actually presents quite well once the aftermarket covers have been removed from the seats and wheel. The most obvious flaw is a tear in the cloth on the driver’s seat, which is also quite stretched. The leather-wrapped wheel looks good, as do all of the upholstered surfaces. It looks like there have been no aftermarket additions to the car, and with the driver’s seat repaired, the entire presentation of the car will be very impressive.

The final year of X-11 production brought its share of disappointments to the car. Chevrolet was hailing the introduction of fuel injection to the 2.8-liter V6 that was hiding under the hood. The reality was that the engine actually suffered a drop in horsepower for 1985, which really undermined the perceived benefits of the new technology. Further adding insult to injury, you could have an X-11 with any transmission that you liked, as long as it was the 3-speed automatic one. This did little to encourage younger buyers into the car, and as the window sticker attached to this particular car attests, resulted in Chevrolet only selling 1,687 cars. This one has 120,000 miles on the clock, but the owner says that it runs and drives well and that it sounds great.

The Citation should have been a great car from the mighty Chevrolet, but early quality issues resulted in nine recalls for the car. By the time the end of 1984 had rolled around, the Citation was a reasonable car with a bad reputation. The 1985 X-11 should have been its crowning glory, but the lack of availability of a manual version is something that many people considered to be unacceptable. The fact is that these are now becoming rare, because so many have succumbed to either rust, old age, or have been driven to death by the people that the car was marketed to. This one appears to be a really nice example, and its relative rarity might mark it as a potential future classic. Hey, stranger things have happened.


  1. Ken

    I had an ’81 X-11. It actually was kind of a peppy car. It had peeling paint and 47,000 miles on it. I put a hundred thousand more on it before it gave up the ghost. It’s in a better place now.

    Like 10
    • Tim

      First new car I bought was the 1981 X 11. Black on black with the four speed. Loved it! Unintentionally would do sideways burnouts because of the torque steer. Owned it for about 20 years. Wish I would’ve been able to have kept it, but leaving it outside too much and driving it in winter on salted roads took a toll on the floor pans. I think was a very competent front wheel drive version of a Z 28. For its time it was fast and handled very well.

      Like 14
  2. J_Paul Member

    Had a good laugh when I realized that the stripes are totally riffing off of a Yenko Camaro…

    I guess when you are a Chevy Citation enthusiast, a sense of humor is both a plus and a requirement.

    Like 7
  3. Steve

    Only memorable thing about them was the silly radio that went north to south beside the steering wheel.

    Like 5
  4. GTiDave

    I don’t think it started out with that strip kit, or the rear emblem.

    Like 8
  5. HydTech

    Good job. Got the transmission identified right this time.

    Like 4
    • Superdessucke

      I think it’d have had simple black “X-11” decals on the doors and a smaller one on the back hatch.

      Like 5
  6. WayneB27 .

    I can still remember how that 2.8 V6 sounded at 5000 rpm (like it was going to blow up ) but was a pretty cheap honest mode of transportation for a young single guy in the mid 80s

    Like 1
  7. Scott

    The ’85 model had a horizontal radio. I had an ’81 X11 with a 4 speed manual. Fun car in its time. I got rid of it when it developed an exhaust leak in the manifold against firewall, and the mechanic told me he had to practically pull the engine to fix it.

    Like 2
  8. Mike D

    I had an 81. Couldn’t afford an x-11, so I ordered a standard 2 door hatchback as close as I could get. V-6, 4 speed, buckets, full instrumentation, F-41. Had it for 5 years and 60 thousand miles. It was quick and roomy. Never had a problem with it. The torque steer was pretty bad, however.

    Like 2
  9. Scott Atwater

    I had a 1985 model and it was one of the most easy to fix and reliable cars I owned. Got it second hand in highschool from my parents with 120k on it. Drove it thru highschool, trade school in Phoenix and many years after. Drove that car back and forth from Phoenix to Wisconsin at least a dozen times the last time moving all of my belongings (and even Towing a small boat) We had no problems… even going over the Continental Divide. I drove it until 303k miles until one day it dropped a valve and that was that. I limped it home but it was done. It was sad to see it go to scrap but it wasn’t worth the effort to fix.

    Like 3
  10. HoA Rube Goldberg Member

    Yeah,,,the Citation. It went agin everything we old farts held dear. Front drive, still a tough sell in the 80’s, sideways motor, hardly a Chevy, but, these were changing times, you had to start somewhere and if you lived through them, every US car maker was having problems. Got to give Chevy credit, it, in true Chevy fashion, was a sporty looking thing. Whether we liked it or not, it was clear, this platform was here to stay.

    Like 4
  11. Boatman Member

    Not factory graphics. I’ve worked on dozens of these and I’ve never seen this setup, nor could I find one in Google. Except this one.

    Like 4
  12. gbvette62

    The X-11 was a fantastic little performance car, and miles ahead of the standard Citation. In the early 80’s, the X-11 dominated the SCCA Showroom Stock B class. I ordered a new X-11 in 82 with the intention of going SSB racing, but right after it came in, I was offered a job crewing for a Trans-Am team. Travelling with the TA team, ended any hope of racing the X-11, though I did (successfully) autocross it on occasion.

    Anyone who ever drove my X-11, including the TA driver I crewed for, was impressed by the X-11’s handling and performance.

    Like 12
  13. Michael

    Bought one new in 1985. Mine was medium blue with light blue strpes, a rather striking appearance. Took out the chip, and put in a hyper chip. The car got up and hauled ass. Acceleration was rather quick too. Torque steer was bad, but nothing a man couldn’t handle. Face it, this was a car for a real men. I can understand the complaints from others on here. I liked mine. Traded mine away in 1988 for a 1987 Monte Carlo SS AROCOUPE.

    Like 3
    • Superdessucke

      I had a 1985 Celebrity Eurosport with this same engine/transmission and that thing was a dog.

      0-60 for this is listed at 10.1 seconds and quarter mile at 17.5 seconds by automobile-catalog.com. That’s on a par with a modern Chevy Aveo, or a lawn tractor.

      Personally if I was looking for an X-11 I would get one of the earlier models with the manual. The 3-speed auto saps too much power from the 2.8, and the EFI version wasn’t a step up.

      Like 1
  14. redwagon

    Oooooooo a Citation in X11 kit. That gets my blood flowing. Not.

    Drove a 1980 Citation on and off for a number of years. That was my introduction to torque steer. I did like the fact that it was much, much better in snow and icy conditions than the rwd behemoths that came before it in our family. Other than that……truly unremarkable as a car for making memories.

    Like 1
  15. Keith

    X cars = JUNK

    Like 3
  16. Jason S

    A neighbor girl bought one of these new. I used to sneak a long peak as she washed it, clad only in a bikini. (I was 13 or 14) She flipped it on a straight stretch of 4 lane road blaming a failing power steering rack. She was mostly okay. The car? Not so much. (junked) My parents had a 4 door, four cylinder Citation & it developed steering rack issues causing the steering to get hard, then easy, but I still don’t quite get how that makes you wreck while driving in a straight line??? But…. Whatever.

    Like 4
  17. MarveH

    It is inevitable, whenever a small car shows up on an enthusiast web site someone, or several someones, say it is the worst car ever made, a piece of junk.
    There are several reasons for this, one I think, is that Americans like to go fast in a straight line and hot hatches and economy cars don’t do that. The second is that most Americans drive auto boxes and an economy car with a slush box is like asking an asthmatic to breathe through a wool blanket.
    The third reason is that some did have spotty reliability, but that can also be said of many cars including Ferraris.
    I like small cars, especially hot hatches, because they have something that cannot be duplicated today; light weight. A light car can feel quicker than it is and the dynamics can’t be matched by any behemoth.
    Unfortunately, good 80’s hatchbacks are hard to find because many people treated them with a grudge; I wanted a Mustang GT but could only afford an Escort GT, so I guess I’ll try to kill it before the end of the payments.
    I still search, at least once a week, for an MK1 Fiesta, Dodge Colt Turbo, Toyota FX-16, Escort GT turbo, Suzuki Swift GT, or Rabbit GTi. My respects to this X-11 but the auto box is a buzz kill (no pun intended).

    Like 4
    • Superdessucke

      +1. The hot hatch era was a great one. Every time I go to Europe I get so envious when I see cars like the Peugeot 308 GTi, Hyundai i30 N, Renault Megane RS, etc. Thank God for VW and Hyundai, otherwise we’d have none left.

      Like 2
    • don

      I crushed a ton of Citations and he sister X cars at a junkyard I worked at , and I wouldn’t have called any of them a “hot hatch” They were just another unreliable 80’s economy car. Most weren’t even 10 years old and were junked.. That being said, we only had one X11 come into the yard (silver w/ black X11 tape stickers) and I thought it was the best looking Citation had ever seen . Its too bad they didn’t do more with the X11 , it really could have been a popular car

      Like 1
  18. Adam Benini

    Woah! I made those stripes!

    Like 3
  19. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Again, this is NOT a “Survivor!
    The paint is certainly a bit more strikingly red than was ever put on by Chevrolet. Looks to me that a lot of attention has been paid to the exterior and interior, but not so much to the engine compartment… and I fear the underside might just be a bust. In any case, this wouldn’t be a car for me, as I’d need the stick shift.

    Ultimately, though, I’d have to be buying from a genuinely very old lady in order to consider any car that has a steering wheel cover like this has. No one I know would be caught dead putting it on a car, even just at a show.

    Like 1
  20. Stevieg

    I too had a 1985 Celebrity Eurosport with this same engine & trans. Slower than molasses. Sounded great, really nice growl, but that dog had no bite lol.
    As a kid (about 20-ish), I had a 1980 Citation 4 door hatch back. Brown with beige cloth. 4 cylinder (fuel injected) & automatic. Not bad for torque steer, but not a lot of power. Ran & drove EXCELLENT for what it was…a daily driver economy car. I wouldn’t mind having another like that.
    This feature car? Yeah, I would drive it…just not for this price. I like the unusual. That’s why my Ex wife still lives on my couch lol.

    Like 0
  21. Ivan Wysocki

    As it turns out, this was my father’s old car, bought new in ’85 in California, sold it in ’02. Got me through my first year of college till some guy up north bought it. I tracked it down by chance by using Carfax on the VIN, found it was sold in this town and painted red. It used to be glossy black with the X-11 decals and man, it was a looker for its time! If anyone can find this for sale online or knows the owner, please drop me a line! Thank you!

    Like 2
    • Leon Johnson

      Ivan – How can I get in touch with you?

      Like 0

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