1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe

I walked past a small junkyard in Philadelphia yesterday. A maroon Citation X-11 was recognizable though not really well-preserved, but it did encourage me to finally publish this blog post.

“It gives you goose bumps.”

Chevrolet’s Citation X-car is now known mostly for being constantly recalled, but there were some positive points. The sporty X-11 version was a definite glimmer of hope.

The Citation X-11 was built around a specific engine for its entire life. For 1981, the $1,498 X-11 package featured the LH7 2.8 liter/172 ci “HO” V6 with Rochester Varajet II 2SE two-barrel carburetor, making 135 bhp, instead of the 110 bhp that the “generic” LE2 V6 made in other Citations. Upgrades from the LE2 to the LE7 included a higher compression ratio (8.9:1 versus 8.5:1). The standard transmission was the four-speed manual with a three-speed automatic optional. The four-speed along with the X-11‘s specific axle ratio was good enough to give a 0-60 time of around 8.5 seconds.

Other changes for 1981 were the addition of a hood bulge and aluminum alloy wheels. The X-11 also received power brakes and the F41 Sport Suspension, which featured revised shock absorbers, stiffer anti-roll bars, and P215/60R14 tires (a size still available thanks to BFGoodrich and Riken). Inside was an instrument panel that included a five-gauge cluster, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, and cloth bucket seats. Exterior X-11 specific appearance items included a black grill and body accents, sport mirrors, and a rear spoiler.

X-11 page from the 1981 Chevrolet Citation brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on every Citation included front wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, and a Delco Freedom Battery II. Inside, dual-speed electric windshield wipers, sliding door locks, locking glove compartment, and a Delco AM push-button radio with two front speakers were all included.

Options available included air conditioning ($585), cruise control ($123), intermittent wipers ($41), rear defogger ($107), and tilt steering wheel ($81).

X-11‘s do sometimes show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but, as I write this in February 2014, there are none for sale.

Make mine Silver Metallic, please.




2 thoughts on “1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe

  1. Had one…..1981 4 speed car…..it was the absolute BOMB!. Faster than the 1979 4 speed Z28 I traded it for and handled like it was on rails. Build quality was of Helen Keller levels…….had to replace motor mounts semi annually, but it was a blast to drive. Power all the way to the 6500rpm redline.

    1. My brother had 2 X’s … an ‘80 with 13” tires & an “81 with 14”! He constantly ate up Trans Am’s with their 3 spd autos! Both of his were 4 spd manuals…. He always lamented “if it only had a 5 spd like your “85 GT”!!!!! Fun cars I will admit!!!!

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