The Truth About Cars » Geo Metro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:41:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Geo Metro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Hammer Time: Memories of Metros http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-memories-of-metros/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-memories-of-metros/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 04:01:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834201 There it stood, right next to the Michael Jordan Wheaties display. A brand-new 1992 yellow Geo Metro convertible. Price Chopper, a local New York supermarket chain (think Pathmark or Albertson’s on crack) was opening up a brand new location in Saratoga Springs. The Metro would be the perfect vehicle for upstate New York’s salty roads […]

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There it stood, right next to the Michael Jordan Wheaties display.

A brand-new 1992 yellow Geo Metro convertible.

Price Chopper, a local New York supermarket chain (think Pathmark or Albertson’s on crack) was opening up a brand new location in Saratoga Springs.

The Metro would be the perfect vehicle for upstate New York’s salty roads and wickedly cold weather for one irrefutable reason. It was free… after tax, tag and title.  The only thing I had to do was figure out how to win it.

So I got busy. 150 entries a day for 3 full months. 13,000 in all. The day came for the drawing, and I won!

25 pounds of free meat. To make matters worse, I was a vegetarian at the time.

So what did I do? I got a friend’s cooler. Put in 25 pounds of filet mignon, and took a three and a half hour drive home to impress my dad.

He was impressed. Sadly, it would take me another 10 years before another Geo Metro would enter my life.

metro7

The first was a burgundy 1997 four door automatic. I bought what was arguably the shittiest of all Metros for $2000 back in 2002, and sold it for $4000. Doubled my money. Even the paint flaking on the roof and the trunklid didn’t detract from the mythical promise of exceptional fuel economy.

Unbeknownst to the buyers of these loveless shitboxes, the automatic version of the Metro drained the MPG numbers by at least 7 mpg. The powertrain was like a rubber band that gave you more resistance as you tried to stretch it out. If you drove it around town and wanted to keep up with traffic, the four-door three speed automatic got only about 30 mpg combined.

I would later find out that a a Tercel could beat it in real world driving. A far heavier and better engineered Civic could match it. Even the almost as cheap Chevy Cavalier could keep up with the Metro in terms of real world fuel economy. Once I sold that Metro, I thanked the good Lord for separating me from this piece of mobile tupperware and proceeded to focus more on W124′s, rear-wheel drive Volvos, and anything made by Subaru.

I called those nicer models the “wanna-be’s”. As in folks who wanted a Lexus or a BMW, but couldn’t afford their price premium in the used car market, would wind up buying one of these three models instead. I bought plenty of other vehicles as well. But chances are, if there was a well-kept trade-in at the auction that matched one of these three models, I would buy it. New car dealers only cared about financing the new and late model vehicles back then. Older cars were a no-no nadir. So it was relatively easy to find good ones to resell.

As time went on, I began to see those Metros regularly hit the $500 to $1000 mark at the auctions. Quality sold, and the Metro wasn’t it. Nobody wanted them until very late 05′ when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Then things started to get a bit weird at the auctions. I would see Metros matching the prices of Volvos that were not much older and infinitely more deserving of a buyer’s attention. Contrary to the frequent eulogizing of cheap defunct cars, I had zero love for the Metro. It was a deathtrap that anyone who cared about their well-being would stay the hell away from.

swift

Then I found a Metro with good seats. It was called the Suzuki Swift. A 5-speed hatchback with a 4 cylinder engine, the Swift was surprisingly fun and for $600, as cheap as the average repair for a newer Volvo. My wife loved it. My mom thought I was an irresponsible father, and after an interminable delay in market interest, I was finally able to unload it for $1500.

Why the hell did I like that thing? I had two kids and a stay at home mom to think about. Not some ancient tin can of a car.

Well, it got worse, because within three months, I would buy two more Metros.

metro3

 

The first was a 1996 3-cylinder hatchback. White. 90k miles.  $500 plus a $50 sale fee.

It was a steal of a deal. I eventually replaced the wheels and sold it for $2800. Then, I struck fool’s gold with a  first generation Geo Metro at an impound lot auction in South Atlanta.

Imagine 27 dents, 37 dings, and three shades of green.

Imagine 27 dents, 37 dings, and three shades of green.

It was a snot rag. Three shades of green and inexplicably worth my time. The driver seat had virtually disintegrated and yet, there was an immaculate one on top of the back seat along with a driver side mirror. It was a salvage vehicle that was wrecked way back when it was worth something.

188,000 miles. Rebuilt title from Alabama. I bought it, running, for $125. I figured why the hell not.

Well, no A/C in Georgia and a slim chance for profit for starters.  I wasn’t about to put it up at my retail lot. So I drove it around the neighborhood for a bit.

It ran fine. Perfect. After replacing the driver seat and tossing the old one in a nearby dumpster, I decided to sell it at the one place that could give me a price premium for unique crappy cars.

Ebay.

Old Peugeots at the auctions? Ebay.

A Volvo 780 bought for $90. A nine-year old Subaru Impreza with nothing but primer for paint that I bought for $76.25 out the door? Both ended up on Ebay.

Low-mileage Crown Vics, Colony Parks, Mark VIIIs and 1st gen Priuses with body damage. All I had to do was buy them, take 24 pictures, and write up a glorious soliloquy of pithy summations worthy of an Ebay audience. They brought strong money.

I would buy, sell, and meet the new owner at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport with a free Starbucks in my hand. I averaged about 150 deals a year during the mid-2000′s and about a third of them were on Ebay.

This car held onto my conscious thoughts like a fungus. One day, I decided to do a financial spreadsheet. Like a lot of former financial analysts, I suffered from this nasty little OCD-like tendency to put anything that required a long-term mathematical answer into a spread sheet.

This time, I pitted the Metro against a 2001 Yamaha XC125 and did the math to figure out which one would be cheaper in the long run if you maximized their passenger count. Long story short, the two trained monkeys riding a scooter wouldn’t match the five Pygmys that would be stuck in the Metro.

Now that I figured out the Fantasyland part of my life, I decided to sell the Metro. My first law back then, which I still abide by now, is to never fall in love with a car.

10 days later, the Metro sold for all of $700. This is where things got weird. The very next day, the buyer drove 6 hours from western Tennessee down to Atlanta to meet me. He was one tough looking, intimidating, son of a gun.

Sunglasses, tattoos, one of my friends remarked that he had the smell of shit and spit. I said one word, “Hi.”, and for the next hour, all I did was listen to a really nice guy tell me about every single Metro he has ever bought while staring at my reflection on his sunglasses. This guy was made for this car. I pocketed the $700 and decided that I had made a match in small car heaven.

All these memories came back to me this evening for one reason.

mirage

 

The new Mitsubishi Mirage. I have yet to drive it. But the Mirage is probably the first car whose parsimonious pedigree harkens back to that nearly forgotten world of basic cheap cars in the United States.

In today’s world, where a basic economy car comes with over 100 horsepower, 15 inch aluminum wheels, and 10 airbags, the Mirage strikes me as something that is worthy of the old Metro’s econobox heritage.

So count me in as one guy who is willing to cheer for a contender that is a pure pretender.  I look forward to buying them real cheap when 2020 comes around. Who knows? By then the Mitsubishi Mirage may replace the Geo Metro as the penurious used car of choice for the modern day tightwad.

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Junkyard Find: 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493354 As a former Metro owner— about ten years ago, I found a low-mile ’96 Metro with four-cylinder and automatic for a scrap-value price and couldn’t say no to the deal— I’ve always sort of liked Suzuki’s little no-lux gas miserwagen. It takes a special Metro for me to include it in this series, however; we’ve […]

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04 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs a former Metro owner— about ten years ago, I found a low-mile ’96 Metro with four-cylinder and automatic for a scrap-value price and couldn’t say no to the deal— I’ve always sort of liked Suzuki’s little no-lux gas miserwagen. It takes a special Metro for me to include it in this series, however; we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro, and now I’ve found one of the very rare Metro convertibles at a California self-service wrecking yard.
02 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe early 1990s was a good period for cars, mostly; carburetors were finally gone forever, horsepower ratings were really starting to climb, the Japanese carmakers still hadn’t slid into their current take-no-chances boring design philosophy, and you could get cheap convertibles.
09 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA three-cylinder, 1.0 liter engine coupled to an automatic transmission made for leisurely acceleration. Actually, it made for dangerously slow acceleration.
06 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut so what? It was a convertible for dirt cheap!

You got what you paid for with the Metro, which is more than you could say for a lot of its contemporaries.

02 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro-amino Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491854 It takes a really special Geo Metro to achieve Junkyard Find status; the last one that managed the feat was this bright green electric-powered ’95, which turned out to be a Ree-V conversion made in Colorado during the EV optimism of the late 2000s. During a trip to my old San Francisco Bay stomping grounds […]

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14 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt takes a really special Geo Metro to achieve Junkyard Find status; the last one that managed the feat was this bright green electric-powered ’95, which turned out to be a Ree-V conversion made in Colorado during the EV optimism of the late 2000s. During a trip to my old San Francisco Bay stomping grounds a few weeks ago, I spotted today’s Junkyard Find parked just a few yards away from this will-make-you-haz-a-sad 1960 Nash Metropolitan.
07 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese conversions (if based on a GM car, the correct term is “El-Caminoization”; Fords are “Rancheroized” and Chryslers get “Rampagized”) usually result when a hooptie car owner who owns a Sawzall but no cash really wants a pickup truck, right now. This one looks like it was built pretty well, by the standards of the genre.
12 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo big-block Suzuki four-banger here; this is the genuine 50-plus-MPG three-cylinder engine.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCargo capacity is quite small, which is a good thing considering the front-drivedness and tiny size of this machine.
04 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Metro wasn’t quite as miserably slow as you’d expect, but that’s more due to low expectations than actual performance.
09 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Apple sticker is a weird touch; the kind of person who would build such a hacked-up piece of backyard engineering most likely doesn’t feel comfortable with the don’t-resist-the-Cupertino-way philosophy behind Apple products. I’d guess that the builder of this car runs non-Cupertino/non-Redmond operating systems on surplus hardware. Of course, it’s possible that the builder sold his or her Metroamino to someone who bought it for a single Burning Man trip and then scrapped it.
02 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhat’s next, a Geo Stormamino? A Cateramino? Achievamino?

01 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Slip Slidin’ Away: How I Crashed a Geo Metro and Lived to Tell the Tale http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/slip-slidin-away-how-i-crashed-a-geo-metro-and-lived-to-tell-the-tale/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/slip-slidin-away-how-i-crashed-a-geo-metro-and-lived-to-tell-the-tale/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:57:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478738 A few miles East of Ellensburg, WA, on the long winding descent into the Columbia river gorge, the little car, too small to run smoothly in both sets of the deep ruts that the semi trucks had worn into the pavement of Interstate 90, rolled from groove it had been following on the left side […]

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Photo courtesy of www.asphaltwa.com

Descent into the Columbia river gorge on I 90 during summer

A few miles East of Ellensburg, WA, on the long winding descent into the Columbia river gorge, the little car, too small to run smoothly in both sets of the deep ruts that the semi trucks had worn into the pavement of Interstate 90, rolled from groove it had been following on the left side of the lane and dropped abruptly into the groove on the right. The lateral movement of the car within the lane was not great, maybe a foot or two, and I accounted for the motion with a simple counter of the steering wheel as I speed steadily along through the dark winter night.

I had not owned the Geo Metro long, just a few weeks, and so far it had been a positive experience. It was a cheap, tinny little car and to be sure it was no power machine, but with my lead foot and the car’s slick 5 speed transmission it could be speedy enough. Even now it was moving along effortlessly above the posted speed limit.

Another corner approached, this one a wide sweeping right hander and I turned the car in as smoothly as possible. The car responded a little sluggishly and, again, rolled up out of the groove in which I had been running and jerked into the parallel rut. With a sudden jolt the back tires broke traction and rear of the car swung wide. Surprised at the car’s motion, I responded with an equally sudden counter steer. The back end of the car snapped back, but again failed to find the groove and went wide right. Again I corrected with the steering wheel and the car responded at once, snapping back again to the left even more violently and demanding even greater correction with the wheel.

Like a pendulum swinging back and forth, the car was fishtailing wildly now and the back and forth cycle was growing ever more violent with each change of direction. I took my right foot from the gas to cover the brake but held it over the pedal without pressing down, brakes wouldn’t help I knew, they were the last resort. The car pitched again to the right, now fully 90 degrees to the lane of travel and I knew the next swing back to the left would be the most violent yet. When the car swung left, I corrected naturally but to no effect. The front wheels finally broke traction and the front of the car swung around and entered a full spin. I knew it was a lost cause and hammered the brakes as I threw an arm across my girlfriend, still asleep in the passenger seat and fully unaware of what was about to happen.

Image courtesy of www.greencarreports.com

Geo Metro

I had purchased the little Metro for the same reasons that everyone purchases small, fuel efficient cars and safety was not at the top of my list. In the fall of 1995 I pretty much had it all, a decent job, a beautiful girlfriend and I was even making slow but steady process towards my college degree. I had graduated from community college and enrolled in a teaching certification program being offered in the evenings by Western Washington University through Seattle Central Community College.

Since I lived a good distance outside of Seattle, the Geo Metro fit the bill perfectly. Its tiny three cylinder engine would sip gas and save me money. Even better, the buy-in price for the base model with no options was ludicrously low. A test drive confirmed the car was exactly the no frills transportation I needed and soon the little car and I were cutting our way through the traffic to Seattle and back three rainy nights each week.

Sometime in January, my girlfriend who was a year behind me in Community College, announced that she was thinking about finishing her four year degree at Washington State University. WSU, however, was almost 300 miles away on the extreme eastern edge of the state and if we were going to stay together it was going to mean frequent road trips. Still, I supported her decision and when she said she wanted to take a trip to see the college I volunteered to take her.

Photo courtesy of Washington State DOT: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov

Trucks stopped for avalanche control

It was late when we rolled through Ellensburg but, with minimal traffic on the interstate, I pressed on in the hopes of getting just a little farther before stopping for the night. As we headed up, Ryegrass Summit, the last hump before the road dropped into a long, winding descent into the Columbia river gorge, I gradually wicked up the speed to around 70mph. The fact that there was black ice on the road never occurred to me.

The car was now fully out of control, spinning and pirouetting like figure skater as we slid across the ice. I fought for control, but it was a futile gesture and we were still doing around 50 MPH when we left the road. The right rear tire bit into the soft shoulder first and I heard the roar of pebbles as the car snapped violently around to the right. A fraction of a second later we were stopped, my headlights shining up through the branches of a leafless bush, their brightness lost in the starry sky overhead.

As adrenaline poured into my system, time slowed to a crawl and I took in the situation in an oddly calm and orderly way. The engine was silent but heater fan hummed steadily along and the radio still put forth its stream of tinny AM talk. My girlfriend sat beside me, silent but as wide awake and focused as I was. Thank God she was OK. We both were. Then I noticed that the airbag had not deployed.

I turned the ignition key and the engine scratched to life. I slipped the gearshift into reverse and noted the sound of crunching gravel as I backed the little car up a small slope onto the hard shoulder of the interstate. Leaving the engine running, I slipped the car into neutral, shot the parking brake and got out to assess the damage.

Outside, I could feel the isolation of the place. The canyon walls towered up on either side of me, the face of a cliff just two lanes away across the eastbound lanes of the interstate. On the far side of the canyon, perhaps a half mile away, the westbound lanes of the interstate worked their way up and out of the valley and between the two roadbeds flowed a small creek. Over the centuries, this creek had eroded away the surrounding rock walls, widening the canyon and creating a flat, sandy plain. That sand was our salvation.

A slow hissing sound drew my attention to Metro’s front tire. In the car’s final spin, some small pebbles had forced their way between the tire and the rim and their presence was enough to cause a slow leak. Otherwise, my car appeared to be absolutely unscathed.

Noting the twinkling of lights down the valley, I resumed my place behind the wheel and headed for civilization. As I ran up to a much more cautious 40 mph, I heard the rattle of pebbles being flung from the bead of the tire and I realized the leak was sealing itself. Slowly, we made our way to the closest town and, with no gas stations open, checked into a hotel.

Photo courtesy of www.goodfon.com

The desert at night

We continued our journey the next day without incident. Two days later, as we headed west through the gorge on the homeward leg of our journey, I strained to see the place where we had left the road. There were no tracks, but the place itself was obvious. A small single oasis of sand in a place where the slope flattened just enough to allow the small stream to slow and meander. A hundred feet in either direction there was nothing but steel guardrails and the hard, exposed rock of the canyon wall.

Somewhere, further up the slope during our eastbound descent, the rear wheels of my little Metro had broken loose and I had begun a struggle for control. I can’t say how far that we traveled during that fight, but by the time that physics had won we were in the only place for miles where we could have emerged unscathed. To this day, I can’t explain how that happened. Perhaps it was just incredible luck, I don’t know, but maybe, just maybe, it was the guiding hand of God. As a person of faith, I would like to think so.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself

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Junkyard Find: Electric 1995 Geo Metro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-electric-1995-geo-metro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-electric-1995-geo-metro/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=479114 Normally, I wouldn’t consider an 18-year-old Suzuki Cultus badged by a now-defunct GM marque to be worthy of inclusion in this series, but this particular example— which I found at my favorite Denver self-service wrecking yard— has been converted to electric power and is thus sort of interesting. The valuable stuff that electric-car geeks like […]

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Normally, I wouldn’t consider an 18-year-old Suzuki Cultus badged by a now-defunct GM marque to be worthy of inclusion in this series, but this particular example— which I found at my favorite Denver self-service wrecking yard— has been converted to electric power and is thus sort of interesting.
The valuable stuff that electric-car geeks like to keep (i.e., the electric motor, control circuitry, and batteries) is all gone, but you can see that this setup used the Suzuki front-drive transaxle more or less intact.
It looks like there was some sort of electrical fire or maybe a big acid spill in the rear of the car at some point, judging from the pried-open-in-a-hurry hatch and melted insulation.
You don’t see many 400-amp ammeters and 180-volt voltmeters in junked econoboxes!
Now that you can buy genuine factory-made electric cars, these homemade jobs don’t quite make the statement they once did. Still, the guy who built this car is probably driving a different electric machine. Let’s hope it’s an electron-driven Triumph Stag.
02 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1995 Electric Geo Metro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1991 Suzuki Swift http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1991-suzuki-swift/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1991-suzuki-swift/#comments Wed, 25 Jul 2012 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454084 We haven’t given up on Suzuki yet, and so I decided to photograph this Geo Metro sibling when I found it in a Denver-area self-service yard. This is the “big block” Swift with the four-cylinder. You still see the occasional Swift GT, which had a hotter engine, on the street these days, but regular Swifts […]

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We haven’t given up on Suzuki yet, and so I decided to photograph this Geo Metro sibling when I found it in a Denver-area self-service yard.
This is the “big block” Swift with the four-cylinder. You still see the occasional Swift GT, which had a hotter engine, on the street these days, but regular Swifts were rare even back in the day.
It is still possible to buy a Swift aka Cultus of this generation in Pakistan today!

09 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1991 Suzuki Swift Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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And the Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-winner-is-19/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-winner-is-19/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 01:15:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406217 While today’s Arse Sweat-a-Palooza winner on laps is indeed the same Honda-motorcycle-engined Geo Metro that won the 2008 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza, it’s really a much different car now. In ’08, the Geo Player Special (then known as the Metro Gnome) had the CBR900RR engine driving the front wheels, via an ingenious chain drive that used a […]

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While today’s Arse Sweat-a-Palooza winner on laps is indeed the same Honda-motorcycle-engined Geo Metro that won the 2008 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza, it’s really a much different car now. In ’08, the Geo Player Special (then known as the Metro Gnome) had the CBR900RR engine driving the front wheels, via an ingenious chain drive that used a toilet plunger as a grease seal. Since that time, the engine— now a CBR1000— has been moved back and now drives the rear wheels.

This car has been running the rear-engine/rear-drive configuration for a couple of years now and had been quite close to an overall win on several occasions. Today, it all came together for the Metro. Congratulations, Geo Player Special!

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Curbside Classic: 1987 Chevrolet Turbo Sprint http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/curbside-classic-1987-chevrolet-turbo-sprint/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/curbside-classic-1987-chevrolet-turbo-sprint/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 15:53:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=370218 The Volt is GM’s current answer to CAFE mandates and a hedge against high oil prices. In the mid eighties, the answer to the same challenge was the Chevy Sprint. The two couldn’t be more more different. The solution then to radical improvements in efficiency was found in Japan, with GM’s partly-owned Suzuki. Their newly […]

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The Volt is GM’s current answer to CAFE mandates and a hedge against high oil prices. In the mid eighties, the answer to the same challenge was the Chevy Sprint. The two couldn’t be more more different.

The solution then to radical improvements in efficiency was found in Japan, with GM’s partly-owned Suzuki. Their newly developed SA310/Cultus, renamed the Swift in its second generation, was tapped to be GM’s high mileage/CAFE queen . In the summer 1983, the little hatch found its way to the US, slotted in below the Chevette, and with substantially higher mileage. In its second generation here, the Sprint also rated a name change, to Geo Metro (CC here). And rightfully, I would be showing you one of the normally-aspirated Sprints in my collection (there’s quite a few of these around here still). But then, I came across this rather rare Turbo Sprint just yesterday. Can you blame me? Who could resist this ultimate of pocket-rockets?

With its well-marked mail-slot air intake, its body kit and aero-style wheel covers, I spotted the Turbo Sprint from quite a ways off. Yes! My Sprint collection is complete! I even have a Suzuki version that must have come from Canada, but I don’t have the Canadian Pontiac Firefly. Hope springs eternal.

Strictly speaking, the turbo version of the Sprint was not the initial and primary mileage standard bearer. That would have been the basic Sprint, which carried an 36/43 EPA (adjusted) sticker, or the ER version, with a 44/51 rating. That was 58 mpg, under the old EPA formula, if I remember correctly.

Available only in 1987 and 1988 in the US, the Turbo Sprint adds fuel injection, a turbo and, and as is so prominently announced, an intercooler. All those goodies add up to 73 horsepower from the little 993 cc three-pot pressure cooker. Given that the Sprint weighed about 1600 pounds, the power-to-weight ratio is decidedly in the fun zone. If anyone cares, dragtimes.com has a listing for a stock ’87 Turbo Sprint for the quarter mile: 16.170 @ 87.00 MPH. Not bad for a car that can top 40 mpg.

Drag racing was not exactly the Turbo Sprint’s calling in life. But it was about the cheapest way to have genuine fun in 1987. It was the (original) Mini Cooper of its time, and the Fiat 500 Abarth promises to be the closest thing to it in the near future. But unlike the Mini of yore, the Sprint, including the Turbo, was/is a reliable and tough little piece of work. This on has been in its current owner’s hands for fourteen years, has 144k miles on the clock, and shows no signs of slowing down. And just for good measure, let me add that the owner of this little red scooter is a middle-aged woman, who loves it and the attention it garners.

The Sprint was quite a little bombshell when it arrived in the summer of 1984. It was the smallest car sold here for some time, undercutting even the first generation Civic by a hair. And it was the first car to be sold here with a three-cylinder engine since the Saab two stroke. I remember a business associate in LA who drove a W126 Mercedes 500SEL, but bought one of the first Sprints (to supplant, not replace the big Benz) because…well, it’s not easy to say exactly anymore; why did he do that? It was new and cool, and the second energy crisis was still a very recent memory. Well, that’s one way in which the Volt and Sprint are similar.

Just like the Civic, an extended wheelbase four-door Sprint appeared a few years later. This blue example that I shot in a Park and Ride lot is in shockingly pristine condition, and has the aura of a one-owner car. Someone else loves their Sprint, still. These four-doors really were remarkably roomy considering their tiny exteriors. They were the polar opposite of what had been Detroit’s approach to small cars in the seventies, like the Vega and Pinto. Their emphasis on cuteness and stylishness gave them pathetically cramped interiors, given their exterior dimensions. Getting into the back seat of a four door Sprint is like climbing into a limo compared to a Pinto.

The Sprint is the closest thing we ever got to a genuine Japanes kei-car, with the exception of the Honda N600 and Subaru 360. The little Suzuki is a class larger than a kei, especially in width and engine capacity. But the Turbo Sprint also follows the kei-tradition of turbocharging the little buggers.

Like everything else, our cars have gotten bigger, (generally) better and safer. And the Volt is a remarkable piece of engineering. But isn’t there a niche in the market for a modern-day Turbo Sprint? Chrysler sure hopes so; the Fiat 500 is almost exactly the same length as the Sprint, even if it weighs 600 lbs more. Not bad, all things considered. And there’s even a turbocharged two-cylinder in the line-up. Bring it on, as long as it’s as well-built and reliable as the Sprint. I know of at least one other middle-aged woman who already pines for one.

More New Curbside Classics Here

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Curbside Classic: Geo Metro Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/curbside-classic-geo-metro-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/curbside-classic-geo-metro-convertible/#comments Mon, 26 Apr 2010 17:54:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=354281 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 […]

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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?

More new Curbside Classics here

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Curbside Classic: 1989 Daihatsu Charade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/curbside-classic-1989-daihatsu-charade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/curbside-classic-1989-daihatsu-charade/#comments Mon, 22 Mar 2010 18:36:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=349939 What a difference twenty years makes. The eighties was the Japanese decade, when they were going to take over the US, if not the world. They bought prime real estate assets like Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach. They wrote books telling the US how to fix its problems. And their car makers were swamping the […]

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What a difference twenty years makes. The eighties was the Japanese decade, when they were going to take over the US, if not the world. They bought prime real estate assets like Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach. They wrote books telling the US how to fix its problems. And their car makers were swamping the US like a tsunami. The last of the holdouts, Daihatsu, finally showed up on our shores at a rather inauspicious time: 1988, one year before the great Japanese stock market collapse. Did Daihatsu’s failure and retreat in 1992 have to do more with Japanese hubris in trying to sell a “BMW quality” Geo Metro, or was the Charade just an overpriced charade? Or is there a difference?

Let’s just say that among other things, Daihatsu’s timing generally wasn’t so hot, and their judgment questionable. Gasoline prices had been dropping all through the eighties. Buyers were abandoning small hatches for bigger cars and SUVs, and the Geo/Chevy Metro (Suzuki Swift) pretty much had the bottom feeder market to itself, modest sized and priced as it was. But Daihatsu priced the Charade substantially above the Metro, despite its similar size and 1.0 liter 3 cylinder engine.

Daihatsu tried to create an upscale image for the Charade, making or implying references to “BMW style quality” in a small car. Well, it was the time that Toyota peaked in terms of content quality, and as Toyota’s captive mini-maker, Daihatsu probably and rightfully tagged along. American car mags generally agreed in their tests of the Charade, duly impressed in its build and material quality. Its interior alone looks more Camry than Metro. The little three pot impressed with its flat torque curve and eager-beaver demeanor, even if objective performance wasn’t significantly different from the Metro. And forget about smoothness with only three cylinders.

I have to admit to liking the styling of the Charade, and it did exude a more substantial image than the lowly Geo, probably in part to its significantly wider stance. And its handling was pretty consistently praised too; with a little more power and style, the Charade could have been the Mini of its day. Perhaps that’s what it was trying to do, but it came off way too business-like and with not near enough self-conscious style and verve. The Nissan Pao of the same vintage had plenty of that, but that cutie was a limited production only model, and never officially imported.

The Charade was built in a turbocharged version, the GTi,  with a whopping 100hp, but not for us. And a little turbo-diesel was also available in other markets. Speaking of Daihatsu’s other markets, it wasn’t just the US that they retreated from. In 2005, they pulled the plug on their Australian operations, after some forty years. And there are rumors that Chile, one of the Charade’s most popular export markets, may be next to go.

Toyota took a minority ownership stake in Daihatsu in 1967, and upped that to 51% in 1999. Daihatsu was the source for kei-cars for Toyota, allowing it to not spread its resources into that narrow segment. But there has always been an overlap with Daihatsu’s larger cars, many of them having been Toyota rebadges. That’s not the case with the Charade, but Toyota’s Tercel was clearly stepping all over it, especially in the US. It begs the question as to whether Daihatsu has a real future as a word brand, or whether it will eventually be absorbed fully into the Toyota family.

Daihatsu added a four-door sedan sometime along its brief four-year assault on the US market, and in addition to the two extra doors it also sported an extra cylinder, to/and boot. They also sold the rugged Rocky, a compact Jeepster also just a cut above the popular Suzuki Samuari. We’ll take a look at one soon. Anecdotal evidence suggests the Charade had typical Toyota reliability from that era, as there are a fair number of them still on the streets on the West Coast. Considering that only some 15k units were sold in 1989, that tends to support that supposition. Try finding a Peugeot 504 today, another victim of the US market about the same time as Daihatsu. I’ll keep looking for the 405, but it didn’t take much to stumble on these Charades.

More new Curbside Classics here

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Hammer Time: Mickey Mouse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/hammer-time-mickey-mouse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/hammer-time-mickey-mouse/#comments Sun, 17 Jan 2010 16:45:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=342072 Back in 2007, I made my 37th pilgrimage to mouse country. My wife and kids were hardcore Disneyites. Me? I was just there for the company. I deal with enough Goofys in real life and the thought of waiting in line to meet yet another one chafed at me. So I told my wife that […]

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WWMD? (courtesy:gasolinealleyantiques.com)

Back in 2007, I made my 37th pilgrimage to mouse country. My wife and kids were hardcore Disneyites. Me? I was just there for the company. I deal with enough Goofys in real life and the thought of waiting in line to meet yet another one chafed at me. So I told my wife that I would spend the next day visiting my own wonderland. An auto auction. There was a low mileage Geo Metro I was interested in along with about a half dozen other older vehicles.

It would turn out to be an amazing day. First of all, I saw about a half dozen wholesalers from the Atlanta area at this Orlando auction. They were the ‘big money’ dealers who were often given breaks with transport costs and sale fees due to their purchasing power. The cuts were so deep and subsidies so strong that combined with the excessive inventory in Florida, a visit was always worth their while. I was a well liked fellow among company, and so when it came time to bid on a 2000 Olds Silhouette with 109k and leather I got it for cheap. $1395 to be exact if you include the auction fee. It was half the price of what the sun faded 72k mile Metro sold for.

I took four pictures of the vehicle (left front quarter angle, driver’s entrance, captain’s chairs, and driver’s view) and put an ad up on Craigslist for $2000. The Autocheck history was accompanied by a long list of luxury features. A note for the choir here. Folks just love to have their luxury even if they have a beer budget. Within 15 minutes I got my first call, and the calls kept coming throughout the day while I was waiting in the interminable lines of Adventureland.

The next morning I scratched off the yellow chalk from the windshield and proceeded it to drive it a few hundred feet to a nearby sandwich shop. The first couple sniffed their nose at it and tried to nickel me. I was courteous but within a moment of their saying, “We’ll think about it.” extended family number one came by with the three generations in one old Taurus. They looked at the vehicle for a few moments while the other couple started to come in at me for more hard dealing. I explained to them that these folks had come a long ways away and I was obligated to give them their chance.

The extended family bought it on site without so much as a test drive and I was glad about it. First, I got a chance to use my Spanish which doesn’t happen quite so often in my hometown of Powder Springs, Georgia. Second I knew it was going to a family that would value and keep it. I offered the first couple the phone number of a friend of mine who had purchased a base model Venture with cloth. I was calm, well-spoken, and a bit intense with my thought process. That’s usually enough to eventually get away from most difficult people. A couple of muscular Latinos in the construction industry also apparently helps. I got cash. The familia got their new ride. All was well with the world.

Profit $605. Cost of vacation? I think right around that much. We got one of those free hotel studios with a kitchen from a timeshare group. After a free breakfast, a two hour presentation, and our obligatory ‘No.’, we got four free disney tickets. Throw in a knapsack full of food and a few visits to relatives, and it ended up being a nice break from 70+ hours I was working at the time. Every now and then I had thought about traveling across the country, buying up cars on Craigslist and selling them for peanuts. But I would also have to give up a profit at home and I had seen too many rainy days to sacrifice a bull economy. It was tough to say ‘no’ to the possibility of an adventure. But given today’s economy I’m glad I did it.

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