A recent article in USA Today celebrates the 100-year birthday of Chevrolet. It contains a few surprises. For example, did you know that the first Chevy Suburban was sold in 1935? That makes Suburban the “longest-lived automotive nameplate in continual use.”
What I found most ironic, however, was the list of Chevy’s biggest losers. According to USA Today’s auto team, there are three cars that constitute Chevrolet’s “terrible trio”: Vega, Chevette, and Citation. I never had the privilege of owning a Vega or a Chevette, but I did drive a Citation for a couple of years. Actually, I had two of them. But, before you judge my taste (or lack thereof), please allow me to explain.
When the Citation came out in 1980, I though it was the ugliest car on the road. No joke and no exaggeration. I hated the look of the Citation, and couldn’t figure out why anyone would buy one. Then, in 1984, I joined the staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. As a full-time member of the ministry team, I was given a “company” car (in lieu of additional pay). My first care as a nifty Honda Prelude, complete with a sunroof. But, alas, I only drove this car for a couple of weeks before the lease was up. Then, I became the proud driver of . . . yes, you guessed it . . . a Chevy Citation. My first one was reddish brown. Then, a year later, that was swapped out for a white one. I must say that I had relatively good luck with these cars, if you don’t count their appearance.
In retrospect, I had a pretty darn good deal with those church cars. I never had to think about buying, leasing, or fixing a car. All of my expenses were paid. We had an excellent garage just a short walk from the church, and I never once worried about the bill. Plus, the fact that I drove what I considered to be an ugly car was probably good for me from a “learn to be humble and grateful” point of view. Besides, before I was given a Citation to drive, I owned two other cars: a 1964 Rambler American with “three on the tree” and no radio, and a 1964 VW Bug with no radio and windows that rattled like an old subway car. So, in a way, I moved up in the world when I was provided with one of Chevrolet’s biggest flops.