I’ll be honest, I don’t usually cruise Craigslist looking for cars for others. I want them all for myself. But here’s one that I’ll pass on due to the Christmas spirit and all that jazz and let one of you make someone’s Christmas morning a little brighter. For a measly $1,200 it’s not often that a one-owner car presents itself on the hallowed pixels of the list, yet here we are.
1981 was of course the second year of Citation production, so on the bright side you’ll be taking the advice of everyone who tells you never to buy a first-year GM product. Seeing as how we are now 40 years beyond this car’s original sale date, well, methinks there may be something to that.
Don’t forget that this is now the second 1981 Citation that I’ve bagged and displayed for all and sundry, notwithstanding the fact that I found the other one a little too late to save it, but let’s not be petty. Paul of course proclaims these to be GM’s Deadliest Sin, well, maybe that’s true for the 1980 ones, but the ’81’s are clearly starting to become thick as fleas here on the Front Range.
This was no garage queen either, judging from the little dabs of sheet metal lightening applique. Never mind those, they sell touch up paint for a reason. Perusing the brochure indicates that the paint color here looks like it’s the “White”. Not Summit or Super or Bright or anything fancy, just plain White. Like the bread. And the standard issue base model hubcaps are present as well, so it’s all gussied up already with plenty of bling. Odd that the side badges are placed so far back, usually they are on the leading edge of the front fender. Could this one have been in a front end incident at one time? Who knows.
The driver’s side presents just as well, actually a little better, as here we see a whitewall tire. Whitewalls were an option but could be had in either glass-belted or steel-belted form, in any case they were 185/80-13 unless you went way upmarket for a lower profile option. I can’t recall the last time I saw an 80-series tire though, props to the owner if they’ve managed to keep it that spec.
This thing’s apparently been a local car all its life judging by the old license plate, the “FK” in 1980-1981 meant Boulder County, although the registration appears to have lapsed back in April. Due to Covid, that may or may not mean anything though, plenty of people have not left their house since then or bothered with petty governmental regulations since.
Back here everything looks A-OK, it’s just the front and sides that got a little blasted by the gravel that the CODOT tends to lay down on the freeways. I’d guess this is a very early 1981 due to the all-red taillights, the other 1981 was built in October 1980 and already had the amber turn signals. But not to worry, with over 800k built for 1980, they had plenty of practice by the time this one rolled down the line.
Popping the trunk shows it in fine nick with even a trunk mat (or an old piece of carpet?) in place. The luggage cover is still in place and this looks almost as roomy as the back of a Saab 900. But sadly the liftover height is far higher than that of said Saab, woe to whoever has to heft their shopping bags or anything larger into this.
Underhood things start off good with a brand new Interstate battery. Then things rapidly and irrevocably deteriorate as we take in the 2.5l (151 cu. in.) OHV inline four “Iron Duke”. Managing to shake free 90 horsepower and do so for 40 years I suppose the mighty Duke must be saluted, but it would take a far hardier soul than me to not be seduced by pretty much anything else by about 1985 or so.
Red (Maroon per the brochure) interiors are the key to long vehicular life. And the burlap or whatever it is Chevy used on these seats has to be one of the hardest wearing surfaces of all time. It’s mint!
Yeah baby, your eyes did not deceive you in the last picture, it’s a manual! Yes, a four speed to whip those 90 ponies and whatever oil is in the crankcase into a frothy lather as the Citation rockets up I-70 toward the freedom of the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,100 feet and then a seeming freefall afterward only to do it again for Vail Pass (although only 10,600 feet) a bit further down the road. Foot to the floor, in the far right lane, was the driver in third or second, one wonders…there’s a reason so few of GM’s cars came with tachometers, I reckon.
But if nothing else the driver would have had plenty of time to twiddle the dials on the vertically mounted Delco radio trying to get something, anything on the radio, assuming they’d be able to hear it through the standard dual front speakers over the engine’s racket. I do like that little storage bin between the sears though, that looks handy for the days before mankind invented cups that eventually would need a place (or twenty) to go.
Untwist those panties, it’s not quite what it seems, the owner was honest enough to disclose that there should be a “1” in front of that figure. Or perhaps dishonest enough to not disclose that it should be a “2”. But no, that snark of mine is unbecoming the honor deserved by the General’s mighty soldier here. Let’s go with the 163,181 well-maintained miles claim, it seems accurate judging by the visuals.
I think the last time someone sat back here was on the test drive, it must have been the salesman or the owner’s friend that came along. They clearly sat on the passenger side, that driver’s side seatbelt was probably buckled at the factory and remains so to this day.
I guess even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes and if this Citation was as bad as its general reputation, then Mr. Goodwrench did a good job of keeping things rolling for the owner. Forty years on, it’s ready for a new owner, won’t you wrap it up and put it under someone’s tree? If as interested as I know you are, here’s the ad from the Denver Craigslist (Note that it’s remarkably well written and succinct for a Craigslist ad which bodes well):
“This vehicle runs well and is a one-owner car. Very well maintained. New Interstate battery. Runs and drives as it should. Interior in great condition. Some surface rust on the body panels as you can see from the photos.
Clear title in hand.”
It’s 9a.m. here right now, if you catch the next flight, you can get this and Cannonball it home by the time everyone wakes up tomorrow to unwrap things. Make it a Christmas to remember, even if most of the rest of this year sucked…