Morgan Pritchett
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Forgotten Vehicles of the 80s: The Chevrolet Citation

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1980 Chevrolet Citation brown
You may be able to find a Citation in the wild if you look hard enough
Photo: Vetatur Fumare via CC

I’ve recently been on the lookout for creative, entertaining, or downright oddly named vehicles of the 1980s to write about. During my research, I encountered the Chevrolet Citation, which — as an English major — gave me flashbacks to checking all of my sources before submitting papers at 8 a.m. after an all-nighter. Dubbed the “first Chevy of the 80s,” the Citation had a short-lived tenure on the automaker’s roster.


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A brief history

Introduced in 1979, the Citation was the successor of the iconic Chevy Nova and sat between the Monza and Malibu sedans in the lineup. Throughout its five-year run, the Citation was offered as a two-door notchback, three-door hatchback, and a five-door hatchback. Its transmissions were just as versatile, with a four-speed manual, three-speed automatic, and a four-speed automatic all as available options. 

1980 Chevrolet Citation red
This red Citation made it all the way to the Netherlands
Photo: Sjoerd95 via CC

Random facts

  • The Citation was awarded the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1980.
  • It was assembled alongside the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix.
  • Top competitors included the Mazda 626, Honda Accord, Dodge Aries, and Ford Tempo.
  • It featured a unique (and controversial) vertical radio layout.

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Although positioned as “a whole new kind of compact car,” the Citation suffered during its entire run due to many recalls. Even after it was referred to as the Citation II in 1984, the vehicle’s reputation had already tarnished buyers’ trust and it was discontinued in 1985. However, it did have quite a catchy commercial jingle when it debuted: