Forgotten Sporty Cars Part IV: Chevy Citation X-11

1980-1985 Chevy Citation X-11

Welcome back to Forgotten Sporty Cars, where The Garage recalls some of the sporty runabouts of the past. Who here can recall the Citation? It seems old and boring today, but when Chevy introduced the car in 1980, it was a radical design and packaging departure for the General. Aimed squarely at bread and butter middle class folk, yes. But Chevy did offer something spicy in the X-11. 

Chevy wanted to take the Citation SCCA racing, and the X-11 was their ticket. In 1980, the car featured front and rear stabilizer bars, a rear spoiler, full instrumentation and other sporty bits. Buyers could choose from a 2.5L four-cylinder, or a 2.8L 115hp V-6 coupled to either a 4-speed manual with overdrive or a 3-speed automatic. In 1981, the V-6 boasted 135hp, which gave the X-11 a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds, which was very good for 1981. Later X-11’s had lesser torque, due to emission controls.


The X-11 was available as a three-door hatchback, or as a two-door notchback pictured above. X-11 devotees (yes they exist) prefer the 2-door for its rarity. Since the design of the Citation was to be a hatchback, I disagree with this assessment. Saab also sold a two-door notchback of the old 900, and that car didn’t look right to me either. 

Sadly, the X-11 and Citation were the victims of appalling build quality, lawsuits over safety concerns, and a litany of factory recalls. North American consumers were instantly drawn to the car’s design, front-wheel drive, and practicality. When the promise of the Citation failed to meet its expectations sales dropped quickly. Chevy tried to improve the car, but the Citation’s reputation was so badly tarnished they finally gave up, and replaced it with the Corsica sedan or Beretta coupe.


    • judo crypto says

      Hey, I raced X-11s in SCCA Showroom Stock from '82-'86. Took track record in Road Atlanta SCCA National Runoffs in 1985, beating BMW 320s, Alfa 2.0 Spiders. Out top ended a 25th anniversary 280Z on the open road. It was a bad little car and probably one of the most under rated cars of its time. The Z-28 of the Citation line. Ask John Heinricy, it was his baby.

  1. Stephen says

    Gah… the first car I ever owned was an ’82 Pontiac Phoenix with a manual transmission, no less. Despite a recall to better balance the front and rear brakes, a hard stop would always have the back end trying to swing around to see what was happening out front. Finally totalled it one rainy morning on the freeway in a multi-car collision. No one injured, thankfully, but I think all four corners of the car were involved in the accident.

  2. Tom Williams says

    This explains the smelly cat tag you added Gary. I never said this series was going to be “pretty”. Stay tuned…

  3. Tin Man says

    Oh, the days! I had an 81 x11 hatch, with the fresh air induction hood, bang shift auto, and the stupid sideways radio (Samsung made the replacement. Better, but bad). Horrible materials in the interior, and quick enough to challenge the crappy Camaros of the day, but the absolute best part was the fold down rear seat! For a kid with no apartment of his own, it sure beat mommy’s couch for date action!
    I should look for another one…

  4. citation-z says

    Hi,well I owned 3 citations and currently own a 1984 citation X-11 notchback! I never had anything major with these cars.

    I added a propotionning valve for the brakes problems and it worked! My X-11 does still kick ass! Some of those civics guys are impressed of it!

    Now I'm currently restoring it and will be roaming the roads again in spring! Even today poeple have there own way of thinking an cause a car have some problems does not meen that it is shit! Like all cars!

    They all need maintenance! That's what poeple don't do,sorry for being

    Strait forword but look on the net and see poeple are starting to have more interest in them once again!

    • Robert Dowdy says

      Tell me about a propotionning valve. My brakes on my citation11 are locking up, can this help my problem?
      Robert Dowdy

    • Alton says

      I have an 1980 citation 4 door and currently restoring it to. do you know were i might be able to find a nother for parts?

  5. citation-z says

    Me again, well the X-11 only came with the 2.8 H-O from 81-84. The 1980 only had the regular 2.8 and the 1985 with the new MFI 2.8 a the time.but was not considered as the real X-11! But it had better packaging!

    GM had no choice to make a certain quantity out on the market to be able to race the citation X-11! This model is very special cause it did not shaired it performance componants with other GM FWD. Like the option Z-19 that was exclusif only for the X-11.

    The Z-19 option contained special sway bars+special F41 suspension that was not same as the factury 's F41 that was put on the other model's.

    The tranny to was different! The gearing + torq convertor.

    As everybodie can see the Citation X-11 is very unik!

    If anybodie that reads this has any question's please leave a comment and I will be contacted!

    the reason why I know these cars cause as you already know I own one and had some in the past I also restore them!

    Thanks for reading this!

    • doug says

      would u know production #s other than wikpedia? i just bought an 81 with factorysunroof and elec. windows. was wondering how rare it could be with sunroof?? thanks

    • ricky86 says

      hey citation-z, my first car was an 85 x11. would love to have another one, but as you know, they are all but impossible to find. if you know of one anywhere, i would appreciate it if you would let me know.

    • whyZ420 says

      had an 84 w the z-19 option I purchased in1990 for 500 bucks. I ran the piss out of that car. never had a problem w it. Kicking my self in the arse for getting rid of it. Still driving a cj-5 I traded it for.

  6. james says

    wow brings back memorys i had an 81 chevy citation x-11 with the 2.8 h-o v6. for its time it was pretty fast.

  7. Hag says

    I just got a 1980 Citation and it’s not too bad. I’m not happy with the radio being only AM but oh well! And I still can’t get the hang of putting the rear seat down! It kinda gets stuck! Anybody got any pointers? LOL!!

  8. pierre says

    Hey,yea just pull harder at the lever, or once you have it down you’ll need to loosen the bolts a little and adjust it then re tighten the bolts,

  9. Jon says

    My first car was a 1980 Chevy Citation. It had the 2.8 V6 engine. I loved that car! Probably because everyone hated them. It was pretty fast. I never had any major problems with it. I had it for about 4 years. I'd love to find another one just for nostalgia.

  10. denny renninger says

    denny and elise i have a 1981-1984 x-11 factory fiberglass hood for sale cheap. if interested contact us at ekendig@

    • eric says

      hi i have an 85 x11 i want to sell for parts, with 2.8 mpfi good engine,cowl induction hood, orig alum rims, rear spoiler, let me know what this stuff is worth

  11. don says

    I have a 1980 citation. I am looking for what the shop manual calls, end caps.These items are located at each lower conner of the car.These items appear to be made of a rubber material and they connect at each conner of the bumper then to the finder.If anyone knows where I can find these parts,I would appreciate their help.The chevrolet dealer is unable to find them,and I have searched several areas on the internet.

    Thanks for your help

  12. Bill says

    Hello, I also have a x-11 hood, black , perfect shape ….please let me know if anyone is interested, contact me here 1st thanks, I'm in upstate NY, near Binghamton and cortland

  13. dave says

    My name is Dave i bought a 1984 citation xs in 1985 it was my first car ever had and its great i still enjoy driving it .As a young kid i put lots of money in my car and lots of time i had the transmission welded up for a posy track i put a center force clutch in it and & $300 axles in it . It also has headers with straight pipes that come just past the two doors then out. I also have air shocks in back that lifts up the back of car with car alarm this is sweet car has been bored out 40 over and has high compression heads hood with scoop and tail wing for air flow its blue with the rally rims wide tires in back and skinny in front also i had to put hood pins to make sure that it don't fly up when driving it black grill with silver its a two door with bucket seats 4 speed shift and yes the posy works don't ask its not for sale its one of my kids it sits under cover in my garage ever winter tell high ways is clear of sand salt and its undercoated with bed liner like whats in the bed of trucks its a sweet toy and its 28 years old and im 45 so it will be mine tell i die then i hope my kids enjoy my toy and take care of it like i did when i got it. i spent many nights days and lots of money to see it sparkle in the sun well this is all . so u keep demo urs drive it in ditches hunt with it couse it will make mine more valuable as time goes on.

  14. racer x says

    i have an 84 x11 hatchback. my uncle bought it brand new off the showroom floor in 84. he took very good care of it. he sold it to his brother ,who beat the hell out of it. he sold it to a family friend, who ran it outta oil. i rescued it from getting scrapped out, put a new motor in it n drove it for 5 yrs. in the last couple years i have replaced the lack luster 2.8 HO with a gen 1 3800, biult a forward tilt hood, and got rid of those god awful tail lights. i used the tail lights from an 97 buick regal, flipped on their side(it has more of a cadilac look now). in doing so, i had to modify the hatch n spoiler. now it has a fully integrated steel spoiler on the hatch and a sleek new look. my next goal is to get the "ground effects" fabbed up, including the front and rear valance. im hoping to have it back on the road in a few months. fingrs crossed.

  15. matthew Nemerson says

    Rebuilding an '84×11 three door…it's been in my garage for 20 years. Looking for tips and suggestions from anybody out there.

  16. matt says

    i have an 85 citation x11 my locking mechanisim in my passanger door fell apart and i cant open it i will have to cut a hole inthe outer skin to fix it. im looking for a new passanger door do you know any place i can find one. thank you anyways if you dont.

  17. fred cianfrocco says

    i orderd a 1980 x11 in pheonix ny in 1999.the car took so long to come in the dealer went out of buisness and they transfered the sale to reymore chevy.the cost of the car went up and dealer had to get gm to reimberse the difference. i loved the car it was silver and black with factory sunroof bubble hood ,graffics , auto power window and door locks,i think i ordered every option if i remember.the rear spoiler got deleted but was able to get it from gm parts and paint and installed it.had it several years sold it for 6950.00 to a friend he had it for many years then he gave it to his daughter and i dont know what happened to it.It was a good car to me,lots of room to carry stuff with the seats back down.I still have the brochure. fred

  18. MikeS says

    As a kid, my father owned two '85 X-11s. It was the first car I ever drove. One was black, it was loaded with every option that Chevy stuck in them. They never had any problems, and I thought they were good looking for a car from the 80s.


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