Falling in love (again) with a Chevrolet Citation X-11


The Chevrolet Citation X-11 snared Jim Keyes at an early age. During his sophomore year in high school in the late ’80s, a friend of his bought one used for $500, quite depreciated from the nearly $7000 list price when the X-11 debuted as the model’s sporty range-topper at the start of that decade.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/08/falling-in-love-chevy-citation-x-11
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I bought a 1980 Citation X-11 brand new in the early summer of 1979. It was an awful car. Before I sold it in the fall of 1980 it had dumped the transmission, the rack and pinion was replaced, and both front axles were replaced. It had torque steer extraordinaire and the brake balance was tricky, to say the least. And those were just the major problems. Later had a manual 1984 which was a very reliable trooper for 4 or 5 years. By the time GM was able to build the car correctly, its reputation was destroyed.


My Dad had one in the early 80’s, blue with grey trim. I was only 6 or 7 maybe, but always thought it was a cool looking car. He had the 4-speed manual and totaled it one fall day on a back road by our house when he slid into a line of trees after taking a turn too fast. He was fine but the X11, not so much.


I worked at Buick when these came out. The early ones were really recalled a lot. but they were surprisingly nice drivers for family sedans. I had a 1982 Skylark Limited 4 door for a demo and liked it


My Dad was a neat guy that started my passion. He wanted an X-11 for the HO V6, but needed a family car. Special ordered a 1984 Pontiac Phoenix 5 door, HO V6, F41 suspension, bench seat, steel wheels, gauge package, etc. Bought a set of X-11 wheels from the local SCCA Showroom Stock racing legend (Dr. Bob McConnell). So many ala carte options that it had a two page Monroney. First car that I started autocrossing. That was a one of one car and it kills me to know that it probably died a sad unloved death at the hands of someone that had no idea how unusual it was.


In 1987 I bought a 81 X11 from the original owner that was the same color as the one in the article. He had lowered the car and installed Bilstiens and removed all of the badges. It was a beautiful car until my dog decided one night to climb all over the car. I found a local shop who did a fantastic job respraying it and I always got positive comments.
I did develop a hard starting problem and after I replaced several components I took it to a dealership. Long story short they had the car three months and were just about to give up when another call to Detroit gave them a suggestion to directly ground the distributor. I ended up selling it because my wife didn’t trust it anymore but it was purchased by a young man as his first car.


Friends of mine mother had a 1981 X-11. She would let me perform the oil changes and tune ups and in return I got to take it for a spin. It was a fun car to drive with manual transmission and V-6 power. Nothing cooler then seeing smoke roll out from the front fenders as you dropped the clutch. Later as a high school co-op student working at the local Chevy Dealership my job for awhile was to perform the brake recall on the X-bodies that rolled in.


I understand the love of a maligned body-style. I own two GM H-body cars, a '77 Chevy Monza 2+2 V8 & a '78 Buick Skyhawk S (also a hatchback), we have owned them 38 & 34 years respectively. I have a special love for the Monza even though parts are becoming very hard to come by (especially tires & motor mounts). I applaud Jim for his personal desire & passion for a car that is outside of the accepted “classics”.


These cars were so bad so early on that they disappeared from junk yards less than 10 years after their introduction. Put these cars in the same class as Renualt Fuego Turbos and LeCars.


I was in college and bought one of these new in 1979. Because I ordered it with a sunroof and the spoiler, there was a backorder and I waited almost 6 months before they finally said that I would have to cancel the order unless I was willing to delete the spoiler. I wanted it, but didn’t want to wait any longer, so I received my dark green X-11 with gold interior, it was SHARP! I drove that car for 4 years and never had a bit of trouble with it. I had a 4 speed and 6 cyl engine, and it ran pretty quick, and being FWD, got through any snow I was ever in without any troubles. I occasionally pass by a local guy that has 5 of them in his front yard, and have thought about stopping in to look at them sometime. One has a tree growing through the hatch!


I worked at the Willow Run Assembly plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan that built most of the X-Cars and we knew from the jump they were not built to last, I did have fun trying to smoke the tires as we placed them outside for shipping, but after building all those SS 396 Novas and driving them over the years there was really NO comparison! I saw a Citation in Chicago last summer and it was the first X-car I can remember seeing in many, many, years. When GM closed our plant there were first run-never driven cars for every model we built there at Willow Run starting with the Corvair, Novas (and the Pontiac & Oldsmobile offshoots) then the Olds Delta 88, the Pontiac SSE’s and finally, the car that killed our plant, the horribly ugly Chevrolet Caprice. I don’t know where all those pristine cars ended up but would like to have a few of them now! On the Novas I worked on the stub frame front end and can still close my eyes and assemble the front hubs, control arms, springs and shocks in my head. After all, we did built over 200,000 a couple of years running!


Talk about a FORGETTABLE badly conceived and built icon of a terrible decade in American cars!!


My parents bought my older sister a brand new 1983 Pontiac Phoenix SJ when she turned 16. It had a dark plum interior and exterior. I remember it being a very nice looking/driving car. The 2.8L made great torque. I was jealous. When I turned 17, I had to pay half for a 1967 Chevelle SS with a 396 4 speed. I felt a little jilted. Wish I still had that Chevelle. I rarely miss the Phoenix.


Bought a 1981 X11 brand new and still have it. It took about 100,000 miles to sort it out. It is fun to take it to car meets; no one knows what it is. Even Chip Foose did not know. It has a old repaint and there are no decals - just all black color with black interior. Very difficult to find body parts but mechanical parts can be found because lots of commonality with other makes and models. Years ago I ran it down Orange County Raceway drags and turned 16.4 secs and 82 mph on stock tires.


I have had 3, 1 new 82 and 2 badly abused used cars. I am in the process of buying an 81. They were good cars, and quick for their day.


I bought a new 1980 X11 in late December 1979. I also had a 1984 X-11 in the early 1990’s. I also bought a road racing 1982 X-11 about 7 years ago. I still have these 3 cars. The 80 and 84 are in poor shape and the race car is in decent shape. I loved these cars…


Now have the 81, it’s the Tan car in Jalopnik. 4 spd, decent shape.