By on June 26, 2014

03 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Storm, a rebadged second-gen Isuzu Impulse sold by GM’s short-lived Geo division, was with us for just the 1990 through 1993 model years and didn’t leave much of an impression. I see the occasional Storm in wrecking yards these days, but it takes a factory-hot-rod GSi version to get me to reach for my camera. We saw this ’90 Storm GSi in a Colorado yard a couple years back, and now I’ve found another in Northern California.


Let’s watch some Storm ads!

The 16-valve performance force from Geo.

The GSi was quite a bit quicker than the ’87 CRX, but depreciation of cars bearing the doomed Geo marque probably meant that this ambitious young paralegal would have been better off sticking with the Honda.

In Canada, you could buy this car as an Asüna Sunfire.
15 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith 130 horsepower, the Storm GSi offered one of the best bang-for-buck deals of its time. I think I’d still have bought the Sentra SE-R, though I was driving something a little more hooptie at the time.
01 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPresented without comment.
17 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinToday’s Junkyard Find looks just like my super-rare diecast (actually all-plastic) Geo Storm GSi, which was given to me by a LeMons racer who claimed it was a dealer-promo item.

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52 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Geo Storm GSi...”


  • avatar
    anti121hero

    These cars always reminded me of an early saturn coupe. The first gen impulse with rwd was a much better car.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      It seems only GM has that talent– the ability to make completely unrelated automobiles look exactly the same as other vehicles they’ve already built. The 1994 Saturn sedans and 1994 Cutlass Supreme sedan come to mind.

      • 0 avatar
        JEFFSHADOW

        Remember than the FWD W-bodies (Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Chevrolet Lumina, Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix) were planned to be released as far back as 1985 but the RWD versions were selling so well in the Reagan era of $1.30 gasoline that GM delayed the launch.
        GMs mistake in 1988 was in building only coupes until 1990. The 1990 Honda Accord sedan took the sales volume title from Oldsmobile and others and only relinquished the best-selling trophy to the Ford Taurus from 1992 to 1995. The 1996 Fish Taurus brought about a sales decline unseen since the GM E-bodies of 1986 (Eldorado, Riviera and Toronado).
        My first NEW car was a Cayenne Red 1995 Cutlass Supreme coupe, a “brass hat” from the Oldsmobile division that my dealer let me lease for $0 down / $236 a month (for a $20,000 car!). Such a fantastic car. Today these two-door models are indeed “right-sized” but the sedans are still uglier Big Saturn look-a-likes.
        My wife and I just bought back the 1995 Cutlass Supreme Convertible that we purchased in 2006 in Burlington, Washington. We sold it in 2007 in an attempt to save our home. Mine was built in the last month of Doraville, Georgia CSW-CV production-February 1995.
        I sold the first 1990 Cutlass Supreme convertible in California, in August 1990 (it was a very late release model, only 324 built for 1990.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Was the first generation RWD Impulse really a better car? It was a pretty Chevette, the other US market car it shared its platform with.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Compared to the Impulse, the Chevette was REALLY underpowered. Even without the turbo, the Impulse had dozens more horsepower than the Chevette sold here. Your definition of ‘better’ may differ, but I like to get within 10-15 mph of the speed limit on a freeway ramp by the time I have to merge with a Peterbilt. With an automatic, the horsepower difference was scary.

        • 0 avatar
          anti121hero

          Yup. my friend had a manual turbo model, and a non turbo automatic, both with lotus handling. Kind of strange to work on but nothing compared to European offerings of the same vintage. They were a blast to drive, had a cool interior/exterior, and we’re pretty reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      JEFFSHADOW

      One of our Oldsmobile sales reps won a 1991 Geo Storm at Disneyland. They had the “GM Car-a-Day Giveaway” and he arrived at the park entry turnstiles at 11:45 PM on a Friday night. Well, they had not given any cars away that day yet so they just asked him if he wanted a Geo Storm or a day pass. He took the Geo!
      Harlan Ellison, speculative fiction writer, was the spokesperson (“noted futurist”) for the Geo brand in 1988 and he drove his Geo Metro (ugh!!) for many years.

    • 0 avatar
      agiguere

      Another once common car that has all but disappeared around here. I have that yellow model, as well as a blue and purple one.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I remember my friend’s mom (elementary school days) had one in dark purple-blue. I always thought it was stylish and cool. Though thinking on it, not the best choice for a woman with two young kids.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      “Though thinking on it, not the best choice for a woman with two young kids.”

      And why not? It has back seats and kids are small and flexible. If my daughter wants a big back seat she can get one herself :)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Just thinking of the inconvenience of getting in and out of a very small 2-door car all the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        86, perhaps you had to be there to appreciate just how substandard the Storm’s rear seat was. I wish Murilee had gotten a picture. It was pretty much a low parcel shelf. I’ve always wondered why they bothered.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      If they’re past car seat age it isn’t a big deal, these tiny cars were actually perfect for under-4 foot tall kids, that’s about all the legroom they had for. I remember climbing out of the back of a friend’s Cavalier 2-door and it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t something I would do every day. If I was 10 again..I would have enjoyed it.

  • avatar
    insalted42

    I never fully understood what GM was going for with the Geo brand. Was it meant to be something youthful/affordable à la Saturn? Or did they just need a place to put all their rebadged Isuzus?

    • 0 avatar
      DDayJ

      I always thought the same thing. Instead of using any resources on brands like Geo and Saturn, why didn’t they develop or improve their smaller Chevrolet and Pontiac models?

      • 0 avatar
        insalted42

        A quick google search on Geo taught me just now that every car Geo sold was co-developed via some partnership with a Japanese carmaker (Toyota, Suzuki, and Isuzu). So, to compete the japanese, GM worked with the Japanese to build cars that were mostly or entirely Japanese. It must’ve seemed genius until it wasn’t…

    • 0 avatar

      It was GM’s Scion.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Geo was intended to be a single-source shopping point for all of GM’s various captive imports, which had previously been scattered through the Chevy and Pontiac lineups. The idea was that Toyota/Nissan/Honda/etc. intenders could find budget alternatives without the taint of Caprice Classics and Cavaliers.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I saw Geo as the “fresh start” brand to put all of the misc and often cheap foreign imports which they viewed as not being “good enough” for Chevrolet/Pontiac etc lineup. If Geo had continued, I imagine things like Chevy Spark and Sonic would be badged as such, as they are superfluous to Cruze, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Too bad it wasn’t around for the Corollo-Nova! But those Corollo-Prizms aren’t bad, from what I hear.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          Back when this experiment was ongoing, I remember a friend telling me about this imports as Chevies thing– he used the logo to illustrate. The Geo logo is a globe with a Chevrolet emblem at it’s center for a reason, y’all!

        • 0 avatar
          anti121hero

          Someone near me still drives one of those corolla novas daily. I’m absolutely shocked the thing still runs.

          • 0 avatar
            ReallyRandy

            My mother in law still drives an ’86 nova that is a rebadged corolla. I drove it about 50 miles last week. No radio, manual trans, slow as it gets, but it starts every time and runs like a champ.

      • 0 avatar
        spreadsheet monkey

        “I saw Geo as the “fresh start” brand to put all of the misc and often cheap foreign imports which they viewed as not being “good enough” for Chevrolet/Pontiac etc lineup”.

        Ironic that these “not good enough” cars from the early 90s (particularly the Storm and Metro) seem to be more fondly rembered on this site than the Chevy/Pontiac offerings of the same era.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          The Geo brand is more of an update of the term that car manufacturers used from the 50-70′s; Captive Import.

          Buick selling Opel’s (wait they still do that!) Chrysler marketing Simca’s and Sunbeams and Ford sending over Capris, Cortinas and DeTomasso Pantera’s.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    There was a guy in my HS that had one just like this. I remember he had a pair of sub woofers in the back of the thing that were almost as big as the car itself. I was expecting to see parts rattling off the car when he cranked those suckers up.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Agree with DDay. What about those headrests? Pretty impressive for a car with that price point.

  • avatar

    Another car you used to see all the time and now never do. SE-R, Escort GT, Hyundai Scoupe, CRX. I don’t know if I’d rather have one of the squareback version of these, or a Civic Si Hatchback. A black one. God. Really. Who right now would not kill for one of those?

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Great engine. I had the same engine in a four door stylus. I think that’s what it was called. But I do remember the engine redlined around 8000 rpm. The rest of the car was junk.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    These were really popular as second-owner cars for high school and college kids in the mid-late ’90s. They didn’t hold up very well, though, and were all but extinct from the roads by 2005 or so. There was also a rare wagon-back version that I’ve seen maybe twice in person.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/pictures/1992_Chevy_Geo_Storm.jpg

      This one! I always thought this was a totally different model. Sort of like the Stanza vs. the Stanza EXA Canopy.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        Wow, how very Volvo 480 ES! https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_480

        (Yeha, I’m sending you to the Swedish page, because its pic is from the angle I want. Links to other lanuages on the left.)

    • 0 avatar
      insalted42

      The wagon-back/hatchback storm is actually pretty cool looking, too bad not many of them could make it past the 10-year mark…

  • avatar
    jco

    IT CAME IN WAGON FORM, PEOPLE

    http://img.favcars.com/geo/storm/wallpapers_geo_storm_1991_1_b.jpg

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    I had a job delivering pizzas in college, the place provided us cars. 1 was an old Cavalier, 1 was a first gen Geo Metro, but the best one was the Storm Wagonback-except it was that awful metallic pink/purple color. It was a manual transmission and by far the one that was the most fun to drive although it was beyond worn out by the time we got it. Whoever had it before had put GSI stickers on it but I don’t think they made a GSI wagon, and it was way slower than my friends GSI coupe.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Speaking as a hard core Star Wars fan, even I find that bumper sticker embarrassing.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I remember growing up just a few blocks from the last of the in-town Chevy dealerships that got saddled with TONS of Geos. I swear they must have been given them as punishment or such heavy rebate that no matter what they sold them for they made money. Regardless, I saw the storm and its friends quite often in the neighborhood for retirees and young adults. They weren’t awful cars, they were cheap imports and they were largely off the roads by the late-90s to early-2000s just as all but the most hateful Tercels and the last Asian families were unloading their civics.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    “The GSi was quite a bit quicker than the ’87 CRX, but depreciation of cars bearing the doomed Geo marque probably meant that this ambitious young paralegal would have been better off sticking with the Honda.”

    Depreciation is only relevant if you’re not keeping the car for very long. If you keep a car long enough, they all depreciate to just about no value.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I remember being kinda obsessed by these GSi’s back in ’91 and trying to figure out how I could swing the payments as a student. It’s kinda weird to see it all junked up like this now. Most however were junked years ago.

  • avatar
    zach

    I had a ’96 Prizm gsi years ago, it was a great car, I always thought it looked better than the hohum corolla of the same generation, It was loaded and a 5speed, and got at least upper 30′s, I miss that car, some ditz ran a red light and that was that.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    In 1996 or so I was looking for a used Civic for our daughter to drive. It was really difficult to find any Civics at all in this area, but every car lot had one or two Geo Storms.

  • avatar
    astrocortex

    I always wanted an SE-R for some reason. At the time it was a lot easier to afford my 86 shelby charger but in the long run I probably could have bought 6 SE-Rs for the cost of the charger repairs. woops

    The trouble with the Storm (in my geographic area) was only overweight blonde 20 somethings with pretty faces bought them. They look great from a distance but you get up close and it’s like WUT

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    THIS is the car I use as an example of how one day you see a particular car everywhere and then POOF, they’re gone! I graduated from high school in 1994 and it seemed like fully 1/3 of the vehicles in the parking lot at any one time were Geo Storms. Mostly girls drove them, but they were all over the freaking place. By the time I graduated from college in 1999, Storms were becoming a rare sight. I myself was driving a 1990 Ford Taurus during that time frame (former fleet car with 125,000 miles on it).

  • avatar
    MMaier - Audi S4

    I test drove one of these in 1991, along with a Civic Si, Toyota Paseo, and a SE-R. Bought the SE-R. No regets. Always did have a soft spot for a CRX-Si – that would have been a fun car too.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    My 12 year old self thought these things were the coolest car out there when they were new.

    Now, this video is the only thing that comes to mind when I see one.
    Youtube: VrjWEv8pGWY

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      That’s the exact one I was willing to pay an adjusted $400/month for. And those Neanderthals completely sullied it. They may as well have peed on it for good measure. Bah!!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Al: ” “Griff, you know that I am a Dodge man, but your Geo is one smooth pushing car”.
    Griff:”Thanks, Al”.

  • avatar
    webibeay

    I had nearly this exact car, a yellow ’91 Storm GSI but it was a 5-speed. To this day, still the best car I’ve ever owned, and would kill to get another. Been looking for a decent used one I can restore. Performance, mileage, handling was excellent and gas mileage was crazy great – plus GSi seats were very comfortable.

  • avatar
    kinsha

    I have a 1991 GEO Prism GSI 5 speed with Toyotas famous high compression 4AGE motor. 130 horse almost 8000 RPM redline 4 wheel discs front and rear sway bars and strut tower bar all stock. Power everything including sunroof and it all works even the AC. It is very light and a blast to drive. We call it the little red devil ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, those are fun. I think most people have no idea you could get the 4AGE in a Geo. Some wacky part of me wants to find a hatchback Prism GSi and swap on the flip-light Trueno nose from an AE92.


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