Hoists at the "Chevrolet Citation Body Shop":
History and Development of the Chevrolet Citation:
Over the course of an era that stretched from the post-war period to the early 1970's, the focus of General Motors, and indeed the entire automobile industry, was on engine power, styling, and size in the design of new automobiles. Scarcely a mention was made of fuel economy in a period in which a litre of gasoline could be bought for under 7 cents. However, this era in automobile manufacturing was forced to a screeching halt with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo on the United States, which resulted in gasoline prices doubling or tripling in a short period of time. With the rapid rise in the cost of fuel, concerns about size and engine power in an automobile were pushed aside by consumers in favour of fuel economy. Yet at outset of the energy crisis, U.S automakers were caught off guard, having only traditional fuel-guzzling models to offer. Thus, consumers in their search for fuel-economy began to turn to smaller Japanese imports en-masse, resulting in a drop in sales by North American automakers. Recognizing the trend towards smaller and more fuel efficient automobiles, General Motors began planning for the release of a revolutionary new design of automobile code-named the X-body at the Chevrolet advance design studios in April, 1974.
In August of 1974, a group of engineers and design specialists met to discuss the proposals that had been submitted over four months of planning. From this conference came a consensus that to attain the efficiency standard which the X-body project was designed to meet, front-wheel drive in combination with a transversed engine configuration was essential. After this consensus was reached, work began in earnest on prototypes which at the outset consisted of Volkswagen and Fiat type designs with modifications. Yet by 1975, it became evident that the X-body's pace of development was to be a top priority at General Motors, and its implementation would have to be accelerated. In order for this to occur, General Motors designated the X-body concept as a corporate undertaking, which elicited the cooperation of the Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile divisions of the company in developing a working prototype X-body model.
In July of 1976, the first prototype X-body automobile, by this time given the model name "Citation", was completed at a total cost approaching $700,000. Over the next two years, a series of prototype Citations were constructed, with each new series moving the X-body line of automobiles closer to a model suited for mass production. By July of 1978, the Citation model been tested and redesigned to a standard suitable for production, yet the automobile was not to be released for another nine months, due to supply concerns.
After five long years of proposals, prototype testing, pilotline manufacuturing and redesign to fix minor glitches, the Citation model was finally released for the 1980 model year in April, 1979. The new model was heralded by General Motors as being a "new direction for the new decade", demonstrating the commitment of the company to quality, efficiency and progressive change in the face of difficult circumstances. Following the introduction of the Citation, many consumers returned to General Motors in their pursuit for efficiency, as the new model was much lighter (800 pounds lighter than all previous GM models from 1977) and fuel consumption was reduced drastically.
From the 1980 model year until 1983, the Citation model of coupes and sedans was mass produced and became a popular make of automobile among small-car buyers. After some minor redesign, the Citation II model was released for the 1984 model year, with production continuing until the close of the 1985 model year.
This is a prototype model for the two door coupe version of Citation II that was to be released in 1984 to replace the original Citation X-body model.
The story of my Citation II:
After having exhausted the Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight which we had previously owned, in July, 1995 my dad decided that he had to purchase a new car with which to commute back and forth to work. This "new used car" would have to meet two major requirements, them being value and fuel efficiency. Our search took us through a multitude of used car lots before we arrived at MacKenzie motors, where my dad set his eye on the, well, let's say the most frugal looking car in the lot, save those that were to be hauled away as scrap. It was a beige and brown 1985 Citation II hatchback sedan, complete with AM/FM radio, power steering(or so we thought), 2.8L V6 engine and only 79,000 km on the odometer. Upon taking it for a test drive, and after looking at some more cars, we decided to buy the Citation.
Yet after only two weeks following the purchase, we found that the Citation would be far more problematic then we first suspected. The first quandary associated with the Citation that we had faced involved the deodorization of the interior. At first, we thought that we could rid the interior of its strange scent by simply cleaning the upholestry. However, even after we completely cleaned out the interior, we found that the scent was still there. Upon further examination, my dad soon found that the source of the scent was in the venting system, where we suspect that perhaps mice took up residence a few years earlier. After we knew where the smell was coming from, we were able to deodorize the car quickly just by cleaning out the interior of the dashboard and the heating/cooling system. My little sister Carolyn quickly picked up on the theme of rats that used to be in the car, and started calling our Citation "the Ratmobile", which is a name that has stuck to this day, despite the fact that we never found any evidence of rodents in the Citation from that time on.
The second problem associated with the Citation was much more serious. After about two weeks of worry-free driving, we found that the engine began sputtering and producing strange noises. Finally, the engine had seized up and we were forced to make serious repairs in order to keep the Citation on the road. This was done with our own money, as the owner of MacKenzie motors did not honour the one year warranty which he gave us on the car. (This would be a typical lawsuit case in the United States, but here in Canada, we found that it would not be worth the wait or trouble....and besides, the dealership closed afte) To correct this serious problem, my dad sent the car to an auto mechanic that he knew from work, who rebuilt the engine and added some extra options. With the repairs and extra options, we found afterwards that the horsepower and efficiency of our Citation had noticeably increased. Proof of this could be found in an unscientific and potentially illegal test I conducted on the E.C Row Expressway in Windsor, where a friend in the passenger seat timed how fast I could go from 0 to 100 km, with a result of 5.9 seconds.
Last summer, in July, 1997, we found out just how crash resistant and stable that the Citation II was through when my dad experienced a head-on collision while he was driving the Citation with a 400 pound deer that had decided to dart across the road before dawn on a Sunday morning while he was on his way to work. The deer did not survive, but both the Citation and my father were able to come through the crash with only minor injuries. After some body work to the front end, the Citation was again in working order, and with a new coat of paint to the front end, the Citation appeared to be in better shape than when we bought it two years earlier.
More recently, on May 17th, 1998, the might of the Citation II was again put to the test when a 1984 Chevrolet light truck careened into the rear end of our Citation at 40 kilometres an hour while we were stopped waiting for a van up ahead of us to make a left turn into a parking lot. Suprisingly for those who do not know the durability and strength of the Citation II frame, it was not our car but the light truck that sustained the greater share of the damage. In all, the Citation suffered only a broken windshield and a slight collapse in the rear bumper. At this present time, we are awaiting repairs, yet when our car returns from the body shop, pictures will be added to this site.
Throughout the time in which we have owned our Citation, we have noticed several quirks which are unique only to our car. These quirks include:
That was the story of my Citation II, and the history of the Chevrolet Citation. If you happen to be fortunate enough to still be driving a Citation II, and you have some pictures or a story to tell...by all means, e-mail me with the story or send a picture.
Last Updated: June 3rd, 1998