By on April 26, 2010

Welcome to yellow convertible week at CC. Intimations of summer are in the air, and what better way to immerse oneself into its mood-enhancing, Vitamin-D generating goodness than in a convertible, especially in a yellow one? We’re going to sample a highly diverse lot, starting with the smallest and ending with the biggest. And for true top-down motoring, its hard to be in something with four much smaller than this Metro.

Since I only have the one profile picture of the yellow Metro, this happy pair of red ones will have to do for the rest of the shots.

There’s something so endearingly goofy about this little ragtop, like it somehow escaped the Autopia ride at Disneland. It has no genuine sporting pretensions whatsoever, just a tiny two seat convertible. When was the last time that was offered for sale here? And with a remarkably similar name, no less.

Yup, the Metro is the Nash Metropolitan reincarnated. They both pursued a niche market, and one that proved to be somewhat illusory, but helped keep the production lines moving. Which in the case of the Metro, was always a bit of a problem.

Beginning with the 1990 models, Geo Metros, Pontiac Fireflys (Canada only) and Suzuki Swift were built at the CAMI plant, a 50-50 joint venture between GM and Suzuki in Ontario, Canada.  Production briefly peaked at 100k units, but then began a steady slide downwards. By 2001, the Metro was history at CAMI, GM having found its successor Aveo at its Korean Deawoo division.

We’ll take a closer look at The Metro and its Chevy Sprint predecessor. It’s a polarizing car; people love it or love to hate on it. Druing times of high gas prices, the pendulum drastically swings to the positive. In 2008, folks were paying big premiums, and I seem to distinctly remember someone paying $7k for one at the height of the last gas price run up. With its little 55hp 1.0 L three-pot engine, Metros had an (adjusted) EPA rating of 38/45. The specially tuned 49hp XFi pulled a 43/51 rating.

Like most oddballs, these Metro convertibles seem to be falling into the hands of their devoted followers, just like Metropolitans were in the seventies. It’s a winning combo: top down motoring on the cheap. And who ever sits in the back seat of a convertible anyway?

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32 Comments on “Curbside Classic: Geo Metro Convertible...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Wow. I can understand Miata owners (hell I’ve mulled over the little car quite a few times myself) but I’ve never understood the appeal of a Metro Convertible. Metro, yes – convertible version no. When I was doing my undergraduate work during the late 1990s one of the “non-traditional” female students had one. She happened to be a large woman so it only made for a comical effect to see her in a Metro Convertible.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I do recall a review of this car that noted, “It has the body rigidity of a rubber slipper.”

  • avatar
    undrgnd40

    one of these lives down the street from me. whenever i walk by it the words “air cooled” come to mind.

  • avatar

    Oddly, what sticks out in my mind is that these were the first Metros available with a driver-side airbag (as seen in the photo.) As if there was any crash scenario imaginable that the inflatable restraint would be of benefit.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    My ex-wife’s sister bought one of these new in the early 1990′s when we were still married. It was weak, wiggly, slow and she loved it. I drove it a few times and it did give me a smile. The convertible top can overcome a lot of flaws on a nice day, and there weren’t that many inexpensive convertibles on the market then. It was either a Miata (which was still hot and being ridiculously marked up by dealers) or this. I did eventually buy a Miata (which I still have), in 1996 after the mania cooled down.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    When I was a freshman at Skidmore College, there was a nearby supermarket that was giving away one of these vehicles for their grand opening.

    Yours truly spent many an evening at Dunkin Donuts writing out as many entry forms as possible. Hey, it was a $10k car at the time.

    Unfortunately there was one little rule that I overlooked. Once you won something, that was it. You couldn’t win more than one prize.

    I ended up with 25lbs. of free meat. Not bad, but the Metro would have been slightly better.

    Oh, and the Metro in question was a zonker yellow.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Could be considered another Japanese deadly sin with it’s rubber band structer, stick man back seat room, el cheapo interior materials, loud obnoxious road noise and wind whistle on the open road and sloth slow acceleration. And the tires on this thing also fit my riding lawn mower!

  • avatar
    ott

    1. Convertible
    2. 40+ MPG
    3. $10,000 brand new

    Hmmm. Not a bad little deal there. What would even compare to those three points on any car sold in NA today? I never minded the look of these… there is much, MUCH worse styling available than these little peapods. The first gen 2 dr. turbo hatch was especially cool.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    I always envisioned buying one of these, and swaping a Suzuki Swift’s 4 cyl into it. The only convertibles I see always have automatics.

  • avatar

    Not a bad little runabout with a free drop top if it can be found cheap enough. If was going into one of these I think I’d rather one of the three pot turbo cars or a Swift GTi with the lovely twin cam four even if that meant giving up the topless fun.

  • avatar
    Rick

    Thank God that yellow one has a spoiler, or it would be all over the road.

  • avatar
    DougD

    There’s a charming honesty about these, they definately aren’t pretending to be something they’re not.
    Back in 1993 or so I was working on some production tooling for the revised 1995 Metro. We received a couple of bare pre-production bodies with strict instructions to keep them indoors and under tarps. We took one look at them and went “Nah, nobody’s going to care” and stuck them in the parking lot. Turns out we were righter than we thought, I think sales went down when the revised (and more expensive) version came out.
    BTW it was a very cool experience to see the CAMI plant. Those people were WORKING.

  • avatar
    don1967

    I once saw a pink Metro convertible pull into a parking spot, leaning badly to one side, when out stepped a 400-pound man. ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    When was the last time that was offered for sale here?

    IIRC the Metro was only about 6 inches shorter than a MG Midget. (Which is scary, because you wear a Midget…)

  • avatar

    The Geo Metro was so maligned when it was released/produced but has an amazing cult following if you search the internet. They have proven out to be amazingly reliable, incredibly easy to service, and cheap to repair. That despite poor build quality, what seemed like cheap materials (apparently not so cheap given how many are still on the road and numerous owners claiming 300K plus miles) and a chassis that is about as rigid as a Wal-Mart flip flop sandal. Who’d a thunk it!

  • avatar

    The idea of a small convertible is not bad. But Peugeot definitely did it better, e.g, with the 204.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Oh I remember this one. I college friend had one of these, in red with the 3 speed automatic. I’m sure you old guys can do better but this is the slowest car I ever did drive. Other than that it was neat, if a little silly. IMO I never could have gotten over the cold molasses acceleration to own one of these. There were better power/MPG compromises out there.

    It was a techincally a two-seater, but a third person could fit just fine sideways behind the front seats with the top down.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Driving one of these gutless tin boxes is its own punishment.

  • avatar
    vww12

    1. Convertible
    2. 40+ MPG
    3. $17,000 brand new
    4. 3-cylinder
    5. 70hp
    6. 93 MPH top speed

    smart cabrio.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    Sorry, but this P.O.S.’s are far from anything resembling a “winning combo”…

    Rented one on a trip to South Beach back in the 90′s…biggest POS I’ve EVER driven, bar none. It was a rental/automatic, but I came damn close to trading in back at the rental agency for anything they had available…can’t beleive a 5-speed improves the driving experience enough to keep it out of purgatory…ultimately I just kept it mostly parked and hit the beach.

    Had to constantly floor it, and rev it to redline just to keep up with traffic, which might sound fun, but trust me it was only annoying…this thrashy little sh*tbox had such bad cowl shake (or the mostly glass-smooth Florida roads!!!) that manhole covers and the rare pothole would cause the rearview mirror to shake and vibrate so badly I swore it was gonna fly off the windshield.

    Whoever is the collector of these little vehicular turds is a certified masochist, or has stopped taking their “brain medicine”.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      While I can’t argue with any of your observations about the Metro, there’s a certain fun in thrashing a cheap (preferably standard) tin box around the city. You can stare death in the face without even exceeding the speed limit, and I would imagine that the sensation is greatly heightened in a drop top.

      Whatever you do, just don’t get hit by a Smart car.

    • 0 avatar
      timmyc4

      Sorry to hear you didn’t have fun.
      I’ve had a few of these, they are fun, but… I’m satisfied with simplicity and this little machine is it.

      I got rid of my anger a long time ago.

  • avatar

    Sheesh, look at the fancy wheels on those Metros. Probably worth more than the cars!

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I flew down to SoCal on business during the early ’90′s and – even though I’m 6’2″ – I rented a Convertible Metro that looked just like the yellow one pictured. I did it to regale my young sons who were big fans of Geos back then. They never failed to get giddy whenever whenever our path crossed a Geo Storm GSI, they’d get so excited that they’d almost say those three words in one syllable.

    I dropped the Metro’s top and was traveling from the Ontario airport to Orange County on I-15 when I was struck in the upper forehead by a “June bug” (I think) and that sucker left a welt that stayed with me for nearly a week.

    Other than that, it was kind of fun.

  • avatar

    Nah, maybe PN is practicing his photoshop and thought nobody would notice

  • avatar
    niky

    Fascinating little cars. Wish they’d sold them here.

    Those little Suzukis have incredible economy…
    http://www.metrompg.com/

    We get the modern equivalent, the Suzuki/Maruti Alto (modern being relative… I think it’s the same floorpan as the old Swift/Metro), which has an 800cc version of the three pot. Tested it a few years back. Had to rev the nuts off of it to keep up with traffic, and we still got 35 mpg in the city… up to 40 mpg when not screaming at the redline and merely going with the flow.

    And the car gets over 70 mpg on the highway. Madness.

    As a bonus, it sounds like 1/4th of a V12 when bouncing off the rev limiter. Which it is, actually.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Those cars always reminded me of bunny slippers.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    True story: right out of college, I worked for a company delivering GM autoparts to dealers around the Knoxville, TN area. Our delivery vehicle of choice: a Geo Metro hatch (not convertible) with a 3-cyclinder motor and a stick shift. I think the scariest delivery was the time I had to deliver a hatch full of car batteries.

  • avatar
    Turbo60640

    I had a 1990 2-door hardtop, 3 cylinder with a stick. It was silver with the goofy “METRO” graphics on the lower part of the doors. Once I peeled those off and replaced the hideous plastic hubcaps with rubber tips on the steel wheels, it looked somewhat respectable.

    I don’t recall it being slow (so to speak), but its sheer small size took some getting used to on the road. I remember the headlight and wiper control buttons on either side of the instrument cluster popping off on a daily basis.

  • avatar
    conswirloo

    A friend of mine has one of these, the convertible in blue. Always joked with him back in the 90s that if he managed to draft a semi-truck, he’d never manage to reach escape velocity. He managed to grenade the engine after too many I-85 90mph commutes, so it sat in a garage for 10 years or so, until the katrina gas spike, then his dad replaced the engine and got it going again.

  • avatar
    timmyc4

    Why are you people trashing the metro?
    It was never made to be high performance.
    Reliable as they come… yes, safe… well compared to what?

    These same people will drive a Motorcycle which is 100x more deadly than any metro, yet they bitch about a nice reliable… at least safer than a bike car. The lack of logic astounds me.

    I drive a Mustang GT Convert every day, and I have a Metro Vert just because.

    It is what it is… watch the video.


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