By 1980, the automotive dark ages were in full swing. The end of the 1970’s had seen the demise of almost all fun-to-drive cars. Pollution control systems choked the life out of motoring, and dismal horsepower figures made building large cars a losing proposition. Honda and Datsun had started to make significant inroads North America and the Big Three were staring to really feel the heat. Earlier, almost cynical attempts at creating “small” cars (like the Vega and Monza) weren’t very successful, so a new approach was needed.
In the middle of this dark and foreboding automotive landscape came a new champion. Rising like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of the “lean burn” ‘70s came GM’s answer to the problem: the X-Car. Chevy’s version was called the Citation, and it was heralded as a Second Coming for the American automotive sector. The first of the newly designed, small-engined, front-wheel drive car, the Citation was met with fanfare and praise befitting Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. It was trumpeted as “blowing all others into the weeds” (I think that was Car and Driver) and even won a “Car of the Year” award.
Of course, we now know that the X-Cars were not the salvation they were claimed to be. High demand and poor quality control lead to the X-Cars being one of, if not the, most recalled cars in US history. The Citation is one of the most reviled cars of all time, and very few still survive. Weak, poorly-made and prone to massive failures in massive numbers, the X-Cars proved to be more akin to an automotive Black Plague than a Renaissance. Let’s face it, even the name “X-Car” leads to the pun “ex-car”, which is an apt description for the hordes of rusting Citations that overflowed junkyards in the late 1980’s and all through the 1990’s.
It’s surprising that, given the initial fanfare the Citation received, that there weren’t more kits of it. Perhaps presciently, the model makers seemed to eschew kitting the new “wunderkind” of the American automotive scene. However, Revell did make a 1/24 kit of the Citation’s sporty trim, the X-11. Oddly, they made the kit a notchback, which was far less popular of a body style than the hatchback.
Even weirder was the fact that the Citation kit received a new lease on life in the 2000’s as part of the “Lowrider” series. Like other noteable losers, the Citation Lowrider kit got a new (but boring) box which showed a completed kit on the front. The new Lowrider form sported fancy rims, complete with shiny gold lace centres and knockoffs. The tires were the tiny kind often seen on such cars, and had wide whitewalls. Of course, wide is only relative to the low profile of the tires, but still…
In keeping with the Lowrider tradition, the car is also adorned with an odd hood decal of a girl and some cheesy lower body paneling. I’m not a Lowrider fan, but in many ways they seem to have appropriated some of the tasteless excesses of the Vanning crowd, but decided to use them on cars no one else would want. Kudos to them, I guess. Even more impressive is that someone went all out and did the interior in white! Unfortunatley, none of the detail is highlighted, so from the box you get the impression that the interior is rather featureless. This is a major danger of white interiors, of course. Closer inspection does reveal some detail, though, so don’t let the box’s build put you off getting this kit.
The box also shows a “club racer” version. What’s really odd is there’s another version of this kit that shows a completely stock X-11 on the box, but still has a smaller “Lowriders” label on it. None of the boxes are that interesting, though. Of course, neither is a real X-11, so I guess there’s some truth in advertising.
The box has a normal lift-off lid, which is nice. Pulling it off reveals what is actually a very, very full box. There are a lot of parts to this thing, Lowrider parts not withstanding! That means this kit should build up to a pretty detailed replica, regardless of what version you choose. Everything is moulded in white, which tells you it’s a newer reissue. This is suprisingly nice, since it is very easy plastic to work with (in general) and doesn’t cause any bleeding through on the primer you use. In addition to the white parts, there is a rack of chrome parts for wheels and engine accessories, and there is a gold sprue for the lowrider wheels. Not being a “lowrider guy”, I don’t get these. Why would you want SMALLER wheels on your car? It just doesn’t make sense or look right, but it defintely matches what I’ve seen in “the wild”, so to speak.
There are a lot of engine details, which is something that always bodes well. In fact, the headers are even separate from the engine block and valve covers, and that’s not something I’d expected upon buying this thing! The dashboard is nicely detailed, and begs to be finished in a manner that suits its real-life vinyl-clad cheapness. The firewall is a separate piece, as is the master cylinder/booster unit. The suspension is nod badly detailed, but I’ve seen better on other kits, like some MPC annuals. The chassis detail is not overly impressive, but at least the exhaust pipe is separate, and that’ll make painting this much, much easier.
I can’t guess as to fit, but I’m hopeful it won’t be terrible, and I’m impressed that whoever designed this went to such trouble to give you all the peices you need to do a nicely-detailed X-11 replica. Heck, you wanna talk detail? The interior, which looks so uninspiring on the box, is actually very detailed. It looks to have finely textured “carpet” and there’s even an ashtray in the backs of the front seats! Do you remember those days, when you could put smouldering materials in a small metal bucket inside a cheap fabric or vinyl enclosure? Hells yeah! Go fire hazard! Still, this is a neat detail, and calls for a bit of Bare Metal Foil, since I imagine these small pieces were chrome on all models.
Instructions and Decals:
The instructions are very good, but are more important as a source of comedy. Maybe this kit is the automotive equivalent to a “Luft ’46” model? In other words, maybe it depicts something that could have happened in an alternate world or reality. Confused? Read the blurb below that comes from the front of the instruction manual. You’ll get it then!
Um…. no, no, no and… NO! Sure, it caused a stir. Yes, it sold well, until the litany of quality issues caught up with it, and it became one of, if not the, most recalled car in US history. However, I have NEVER seen a Citation “tuned”, “riced”, “lowrided” or otherwise preserved, souped up or sought after by anyone. There is NOT a whole new generation rediscovering the Citation, because a.) it is not “hot”, even in X-11 form, b.) it can’t be “taken to the streets” because they have all either rusted away or been turned into beer cans. I haven’t seen a Citation on the road in over a decade, and anyone foolish enough to think to customize one should really consult a medical professional.
The instructions are quite large, and are very clear and well thought out. They call out the differences between the three models fairly clearly, although they don’t ever make it clear what the differences between the ’80 and post ’81 Citation X11s actually are. For that, you’re going to love the internet even more. There isn’t a lot of Citation love on the web, but you can find some literature that will guide you. The decal instructions show you the two different variants, but don’t really tell you why there are two different versions. More alarming, is that the side scoop is shown on the top scheme, which is actually done up as an ’82 or later. This is TOTALLY WRONG for that car; there is no scoop on later X-11s, so take that into consideration!
There is also a very large decal sheet, including the paneling and “Mystical Dreamer” hood decal. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the Mystical Dreamer decal is very pixelly, and looks like a low-quality scan. The rest of the decals, though, look very nice.The best part of the decals is that this is the only version of this kit to give you the full stock X-11 decals! Other versions didn’t include this, which seems bizarre. What’s really neat, though, is that the decals are given for both the 1980 X-11 and the 1982-forward X-11’s! The 1980 decals are a black stripe that goes on the lower body, while the post 1982 are more conservative, being large X-11 decals for the body sides. Interestingly enough, the 1980 X-11 has a side-scoop on the body (non-functional, of course!) that goes into the black stripe. This is also provided.
You might be wondering why I forgot to mention 1981 X-11s. Well, that’s very simple; there wasn’t a notchback version of the X-11 in 1981! “But, the kit says it’s a 1981 Citation!!”, you exclaim, perplexed at this apparent self-contradiction. Well, there’s nothing perplexing about it; Revell just got it wrong. They could have chosen any year BUT 1981, and been right, but they picked the one year they shouldn’t have. I don’t know why; maybe they misread the memo from the research department that said “Don’t call it a 1981”?
From what I can tell, the proper 1982-type Citation X-11 wheels are in there (they’re shown on the blue “turbo” version, on the side of the box) so that helps to make a decision as to which version I’ll be building. The stock tires look okay too, although oddly enough three of them are loose in the box, and the fourth is sealed into the parts bag. It seems as though the quality control standards of the real Citation were used on the kit, as well!
The Citation is a car a lot of people owned, and nearly everyone (including GM) would like to forget. It was in many ways a promise undelivered, perhaps even a betrayal. For these reasons alone, I can’t imagine too many people wanting a kit of it. Unless you’re like me, and you want to build a roster of weird cars, this might not be your cup of tea. However, if you want to immortalize the everyday and ensure that people remember their mistakes, thus avoiding making them again, then this kit is for you!
Despite the fact it’s all “Lowridden”, the kit looks like it will make a nice replica of a stock Citation X-11. However, the kit looks like it could be quite fiddly, so only those with some experience with cars should give this one a go. If you, or someone you know, are into Lowriders but not so much into modelling, I wouldn’t suggest tackling this one right off the hop. However, for experienced builders, it should work out fine.
Let this kit stand as a monument to bad ideas poorly executed, no matter how you build it. Let’s face it, you can scale down the parts, but you can’t scale down the “suck”.