By on May 21, 2008

96metro.jpgWho woulda thunk it? Due to their high gas mileage, old Geo Metros are sought-after cars. Laugh if you want, but "Marci Solomon is hoping she'll be the one laughing- all the way to the bank -when her Geo Metro saves her from skyrocketing gas prices," according to CNN. Solomon has a 100-mile commute to work and her Honda Element was getting 28MPG, causing her to fill up twice a week at a cost of almost $100. So she began searching for an alternative and initially "toyed with the idea of purchasing a Prius," until she "rediscovered" old Geo Metros for sale on eBay. She focused on a 1996 two-door, three-cylinder, which opened with a $200 bid, and eventually "won it" with her winning bid of $7,300! Her ‘96 Metro's "average of 40 miles per gallon approaches that of a new Toyota Prius," and "bests most current cars by a long shot." Solomon says "I used to be a car snob, and I used to be too vain to drive anything that doesn't shine; but now it's about, ‘do I want to eat, or do I want to make it to work?' I want to do both." Even though she paid "more than five times the Blue Book value of the car," Solomon figures it's "an investment in the future." "It was all about saving money," she says. Indeed: Solomon has acquired another Metro, is "considering flipping [it] on eBay for profit," and "has her eye on a third at a local car lot." You go girl!

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64 Comments on “Gas Prices Drive Metros from Clunkers to Chic...”


  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Another nice thing about the Metro option is that it’s entirely appropriate to put a “People Eating Tasty Animals” sticker on it…which is totally verboten w/the Prius.

  • avatar
    lth

    Seems a little extreme to me since $7300 is a lot of gasoline. The original article doesn’t say if she sold her Element. Or if she considered carpooling, taking public transportation; or an even more novel idea: moving closer to work.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Bidding on CRX HF’s (the next most efficient old car) on eBay has passed $5k. Ouch.

  • avatar
    HarveyBirdman

    News flash for Ms. Solomon: My 2002 Civic with a 5-spd manual regularly gets 40 mpg on my 200-mile daily commute. Sounds like I can get a premium for it when I put it on the market next week, even if it doesn’t have the “cachet” of a Metro…

  • avatar

    Well, with oil just having blown past 132/barrel, I think we can expect modest Smart sized cars to make a real impact in the time ahead.

    I actually get impressive mileage with my Alfa Romeo 159, and feel comfortable, in spite of Norway having Europe’s most expensive gas and diesel.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    I moved closer to work, take public transportation exclusively (a mix of small diesel buses, GM Hybrid Buses and electric subway), and am going to be buying a much smaller car when the oil-frenzy dust settles.

    That’s all anyone really can do. I don’t think buying a car with such high mileage at the expense of reliability, crash-worthiness, and comfort/convenience is the answer.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    Is that MPG from the old EPA test cycle? So is it really much better than some of the new high mileage cars? Enquiring minds want to know.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Who woulda thunk that there could have ever been a speculative bubble involving the Geo Metro.

    For people who don’t think it’s possible for the market to behave irrationally, let’s remember that Ms. Solomon paid over seven grand for a 12-year old, three-cylinder car. How could anyone possibly save money by doing that?

  • avatar
    TaurusGT500

    Sooooooo, arguably (I’m having a bit of trouble making her math work) it seems she might save ~$43 a week at $3.97 gas.

    Soooo, that makes break-even on a $7,500 Geo ~3.5 yrs+/- (…not counting repairs needed on a 12 year old car.)

    BTW, dealers are advertising Metros on the web from b/w ~$1-5K (at retail before dickering).

    …so…..why’d she let them use her name?

    P.S. Anyone want to buy some tulip futures?

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    I just got 37mpg in mixed highway/mountain corner carving in my Miata last week. I don’t know if you could get me into a Metro even with $10 a gallon gas, but something like an old Honda CRX, new Mazda 2 or a Honda Fit wouldn’t be too bad. Interestingly enough, the more expensive gas gets, the more I want a fun car to use it in to make it worth the money I’m paying for every mile.

  • avatar
    blautens

    And after you win your sweet Metro (hopefully an XFi) on eBay, “pulse and glide” on over to http://www.metrompg.com/ to see how to get 70MPG or more out of it.

    Someone please turn those fanatics loose on my LS2 to see if they can squeeze more than 12MPG out of it.

  • avatar
    Jonathon

    Solomon has acquired another Metro, is “considering flipping [it] on eBay for profit,” and “has her eye on a third at a local car lot.”

    I guess she figures that if she was dumb enough to pay several times what that car was worth, there must be other suckers out there too.

    Hey, maybe I’ll sell my ’99 Saturn SW2 on eBay. I figure I should get at least $12,000 out of it.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    She was bothered by 200 bucks a week for fill-ups, but didn’t hesitate to fork over 7,300 for a piece of shit? She’s either doing this as a publicity stunt or she’s mentally under-enhanced.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I knew I should have bought that mint 98 Civic HX in milano red when I had the chance… great little Civic coupes that got better mileage than a DX and had more power. Plus, could be made to handle well.

  • avatar
    jolo

    I’ve owned a 1991 Geo Metro 2 door with a 5 speed tranny and the 3 cylinder 1000cc engine, as well as a 1998 Chevy Metro 4 door with the 4 cylinder engine and the 3 speed automatic. If this woman thinks she is going to save money on gas, well you’re right, but the repairs will end up costing you all your savings you had over the Element. The 2005 Honda Civic with 46k miles that I now drive is a dream compaired to those two, only going to the shop for scheduled maintenance. By 46k on each of them, they were in the shop multiple times for one thing or another. If you know people who are going to buy this car, tell them they are going to need a service manual. Just my experience…

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    PCH,

    Good one!

    I wonder if the Fed will have to make a statement to halt the irrational exuberance of the gas sipping clunker market?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I wonder what my son’s ’89 civic, with manual tranny, is worth?

  • avatar

    $7,300 will buy plenty of fuel though. I wouldn’t touch one that wildly overpriced.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I wonder if the Fed will have to make a statement to halt the irrational exuberance of the gas sipping clunker market?

    I’m calling my broker right now. I’m going long on Geo Metros and Vespas, and shorting Camaros and pork bellies. Or something like that.

  • avatar
    radimus

    I wonder how long it will be until the drone of the engine and din of the road noise coming through into the cabin will drive her back into her Element. They hardly put any acoustic insulation in those Metros to keep the cost down, and the factory stereos do a lousy job of overcoming it.

  • avatar
    Rday

    My second oldest son had a Metro. It kinds reminded me of what a kamakaze must have been like. I would be reluctant to take it out on the road. And he spent alot of money on it too. He didn’t have it that long. This woman reminds me of people I have know. If this car was that great, then they would have kept making it. At least in foreign countries where gas is much higher. My bet is the safety regulations killed it. Hope she has good medical insurance.

  • avatar
    allythom

    If my math isn’t faulty, assuming the Element gets 28mpg, the Metro gets 40mpg and that she commutes 100miles/day as she claims (call it 30000 miles/yr). With gas remaining at $4.00 a gallon, she’ll save about 25 bucks a week on gas, which means she’ll have to keep the 12 yr old Metro another 6 years and drive it another 170000 miles just to break even on gas alone.

    Even if gas goes up to $5/gal tomorrow and stays there, then those numbers drop to ‘only’ four and a half years and 136000 miles.

    That doesn’t take into account the depreciation hit on the Element she’ll take (I assume she’s selling it), the depreciation on the Metro or (the likely extensive) maintenance.

  • avatar
    86er

    Desperate times call for desperate, stupid measures.

    File this one under “Scooter and Other Mishaps”.

  • avatar
    ttac2000

    I don’t even know what to say

    $7300 for a 96 Metro?

  • avatar
    1169hp

    I think her purchase was, um, not the best course of action.
    It sounds like a knee-jerk reaction to me.
    Also, she should have been tickled pink to be getting “28mpg” out of her Element, as that sounds slightly optimistic.
    DT

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Time to scour the junkyards for Metros?

    It’s the end of the world as we know it.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    $2,300 would have been a least plausible, but $7,300 for a 12 year old car is insane………..what is it they say, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” Evidently that is still true today even with gas getting close to $4.00 per gallon.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    That is a crazy woman driver. LOL

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    A co-worker just traded his old Windstar for his son-in-laws Metro.

    Wonder if the Toyonda dealers are marking up yarii/fits.

    Hypermiling got me over 39mpg on the last two tanks in my Miata.

    Frugally,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I should’ve been stockpiling Metros instead of PS3’s.

    Did a Metro even cost $7300 brand new?

    I though the whole concept behind the Geo Metro was affordable transportation. I don’t think Marci quite understood that.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    So what’s a ’95 Civic VX worth these days? $30,000?

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Although it does make me a bit upset that I missed out on picking up a Suzuki Swift GT by hours. Of course, I was more concerned with the delightful hoonery I could indulge in and not the utter frugalities of baser models.

  • avatar

    Things are turning crazy. Oil is now at 134/barrel.
    Though I don’t know whether crazy is the right word. I’ve long been of the opinion that the day will come when we’ll really miss all the other products that are possible to make from petroleum – other than just burning gas in behemoth inefficient vehicles. (Each day, the average person uses or is in touch with over one hundred products that are oil derivatives, some as essential as the artificial veins helping you to keep going. And let’s not even mention insulation for electrical wiring.)

    Oil should probably be at several hundred dollars per barrel, but it’s so essential to the inane workings of our societies that we have accepted that this crucial commodity should be irrationally priced. It appears that this irrationality is now being confronted by the world’s markets.

    I actually have a Jeep that I should have sold months ago, it’s losing value as I type.

  • avatar
    kericf

    I used to drive a 1.2L 3 cylinder Subaru Justy. Not that powerful, but I could get close to 40mpg on the highway, plus push button AWD. It was a great car and went over 250,000 miles before it was sold. Never even changed the shocks or clutch in the thing (even though I probably should have). The AC was cold as could. The only thing that ever went wrong was the LCD display faded out and it was hard to read what channel the radio was on.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    $7300 for an old Metro to save money on gas. OMG. Now I remember why I don’t buy anything on eBay anymore.

  • avatar
    Jonathon

    quasimondo: I’ve read in a couple of articles that a new ’96 Metro cost about $9000. This site says that a two-door LSi started at about $8800. In other words, twelve years later, she paid over 80 percent of what it was originally worth.

  • avatar
    serpico

    Times we live in, times we live in, is all I got to say. Didn’t Honda have that old CRX model that was pretty good on fuel economy too.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    Rday :
    If this car was that great, then they would have kept making it. At least in foreign countries where gas is much higher. My bet is the safety regulations killed it. Hope she has good medical insurance.

    They *did* keep making it and even updated it. It’s the Suzuki Swift and in markets where you can currently buy it, it’s a great little car (and certain models of it are quite hoonable).

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Stupid people scare the crap out of me. I wonder how many miles she thinks she is going to get out of the Metro before it dies, sure isn’t going to be $7000 worth. How does it make any sense to pay WAY too much for an old, small, unsafe tin can car to save a few bucks on gas. Or does she plan to drive it for the next two decades. I wonder how the deal on the bridge she bought is working out for her.

    Makes me wish my brother still had his Geo Metro so he could sell it to this huge market of suckers. He would have made a killing since he only paid $300 for it.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    Harvey:

    I’m with you. I can’t believe she paid more for a 12 year old Metro than the KBB of a ‘real’ car (number of cylinders >3) half its age!

    My own 2002 5-speed Civic used to get 40 mpg on my former 75-mile daily commute. Then it got its 36K mile scheduled maintenance, and after that it got 35. I guess they dislodged the “Magic Piece of Crud” that was causing an optimal swirl in the fuel/air mixture…

    But then years later it got over 40 (average) on a 2500-mile summer vacation a few years ago. These days I could drive a blown Chevelle SS and not care much about gas prices: I’ve got a 5-mile commute, most of it at 60 mph.

    Chris

    # HarveyBirdman :
    May 21st, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    News flash for Ms. Solomon: My 2002 Civic with a 5-spd manual regularly gets 40 mpg on my 200-mile daily commute. Sounds like I can get a premium for it when I put it on the market next week, even if it doesn’t have the “cachet” of a Metro…

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    my 07 GTI is giving me 28.7MPG right now. i cant complain about that one bit.

    its amazing what happens if you go 60-70 rather than 70-80. stay a few car length behind semis helps alot also! on a 150 mile highway trip last weekend i returned 36.4MPG at 70mph!

    i think real time fuel gauges should be mandatory on everything sold here. its cheap to add in and alot of cars have one already. make it sit right inside the speedo so people can see it nice and easy. imagine if everyone slowed down just a little…

  • avatar
    T19

    I bought a Geo Metro 3 cylinder with a 5 spd… great little car, I got 55 mpg (Canadian Gallons) and it never let me down. but $7300 for a 12 year old one!!! Never

    BTW I just bought a 92 Jetta Diesel for $450, needing $1000 to put it right on the road. It gets 1000 km on $35 of fuel… nice.. and as a bonus its hard for a 16 year old driving it to get a speeding ticket :D

  • avatar
    limmin

    I do believe Ms. Solomon has taken leave of her senses.
    She purchased a 12-yr-old car that was designed to last 10 yrs, tops. She purchased a used sub-subcompact that is as out of place on a modern American freeway as a skateboarder with a death wish. She paid an absurd premium for an underpowered car that lacks proper crash protection.
    What did she gain? A measly 12 mpg improvement over her much safer Element? A big hassle whenever she needs parts for the tiny thing?
    To be sure, the Metro has a strong following. But it’s a following composed of daredevils and risk-takers—people who risk their safety every time they start up that silly blender-on-wheels.
    And as other more astute car buyers have noted here, there are safer cars available with much better performance and comparable economy.

    Congratulations, Ms. Solomon. You made the headlines, as you intended. Heaven forbid that you eventually make the obituaries as well, driving that deathtrap.

    What is more frightening is that Ms. Solomon’s misplaced practicality may influence others to buy used and tiny, especially impressionable young people on a budget.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I can’t believe anybody would pay that much for a Geo Metro. I can’t believe that she couldn’t have found one for less.

    A foot doctor I went to a year ago drove a Geo Metro for his 60 mile round trip commute to work. He said he didn’t see any reason to waste money on a new car when his Metro that he bought in college got great gas mileage and was reliable. I agree that i wold rather have one of the high gas mileage Civics though.

  • avatar
    qa

    $7,300? Gotta be a decimal error or she bid for 10 units :-|

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    limmin
    …used sub-subcompact…

    F-R-E-E that spells free, credit report dot com, baby!

  • avatar
    tn4601

    Excellent! Now Suzuki’s plan to drive up prices of the reverse-badge-engineered Swift — for the majority of Americans who forgot about it — are set.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Drove an ’85 (Suzi in Chevy drag) Sprint turbo. I’d buy one new today if it was still available. It was awesome. Climbed the steep interstate 70 hills nearby here at 9-10,000 ft elevations in top gear at 70 mph.
    Methinks with the 35mpg govt standards looming, cars like that may once again be available soon.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Oil should probably be at several hundred dollars per barrel, but it’s so essential to the inane workings of our societies that we have accepted that this crucial commodity should be irrationally priced.….

    Actually, considering how useful petrochemicals are and how essential they are to modern society, it really is a shame to burn them the way we do…

  • avatar
    ktristan

    The amount of hate some people have toward these cars…

    I have an Outback and a SUZUKI SWIFT (Geo Metro). Guess which one gets me to and from work and needs $30 (US$3.95/gallon) in gas every two weeks?

    I bought my ’95 four years ago for $200 and NEVER had to replace anything on it.
    It’s a 4 banger getting 40mpg city and 55-60mpg highway. Try doing that with any other car except Prius.

    In 2000 when GM stopped producing it, it was getting 4 stars in crash tests. Same as a 2007 Yaris!
    And if GM would have kept it, a redesigned GEO or imported/rebadged SUZUKI SWIFT would have been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year, and able to compete with the Fit, Yaris and Versa.

    Maybe it’s not worth the amount of money Mrs. Solomon paid but other than a Prius, it’s the best mpg car out there, and as safe as any Yaris.

  • avatar

    You have to be a real imbecile to spend $7k on a Geo Metro “to save money.”

  • avatar
    eamiller

    In 2000 when GM stopped producing it, it was getting 4 stars in crash tests. Same as a 2007 Yaris!

    I would rather be in a Yaris than a Metro in a real world crash ANY DAY. Keeping in mind that:
    1. The Yaris weighs a full 400lbs more than the Metro
    2. The NHTSA test is more a test of the restraint systems (airbags and seatbelts) than the structure of the car.

    As evidenced by an offset crash test of a late 90s Metro viewable here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53j2wl16Ozw&feature=related

    Compare the amount of deformation in the Metro vs. the IIHS’ test of the Yaris at http://www.iihs.org/ratings/rating.aspx?id=716

    You can see that the extra 400lbs in the Yaris goes to good use keeping the passenger compartment intact.

  • avatar
    ktristan

    eamiller,

    There are three enormous differences between the two tests:

    1. The Geo test is done at 60mph, the Yaris at 40mph.
    2. In the Geo test, the car is an unmoving target, while in the Yaris test the car is slamming against the barrier.
    3. The tests are done at different angles.

    And last but not least, according to the IIHS, “Test results can be compared only among vehicles of similar weight.”

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    ouch… i hope the lady in the article got one with 10000 miles on it…

    i drove the equivalent in canada as a teen:
    5 doors, 1L 3 cylinder, 5 on the floor…

    it was a 91 chevy sprint. the thing got ~ 52-60 mpg. (it was one of the extra efficent ones)…
    i believe that it AVERAGED ~ 52,53,54 mpg the first several years (my dad bought it brand new). i once went back to check the mileage logs to prove it to a friend…
    when it was sold circa 2002, 2003, it was still getting well over 40 mpg combined…

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Hey limmon

    Two little semi serious points counterpoints.

    By your reasoning then, those who have a measure of bravery drive smaller vehicles. Certainly a few people who drive monster land yachts are, to put it politely, insecure (I won’t call them cowards)

    I say, make smaller vehicles by getting the monsters off of the road.

  • avatar
    50merc

    News flash: India’s Tata Motors cancels plans to sell $2,500 Nano; instead will build replicas of 1996 Geo Metro, to be priced at $7,299.

  • avatar
    Mercury_diSABLEd

    I live in Edmnotn, Alberta, Canada and I see loads of Geo Metros, Pontiac Fire Flies, Chevy Sprints and Suzuki Swifts at the auto wreckers around town. I also see them in the paper being given away for $200. I guess Canada is different from the States.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Hell, I get 37mpg in my Chevy Impala… which has a lot more power, space, amenities, not to mention nicer to drive 100 miles a day in.

  • avatar
    Mud

    Even though she paid “more than five times the Blue Book value of the car,” Solomon figures it’s “an investment in the future.”

    right…..

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    My proof reading can be pretty bad . . . My prior post, the last sentence should read

    I say, make smaller vehicles safer by getting the monsters off of the road.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    ttacgreg,

    how do you propose to deliver stuff without 18 wheelers rolling around. Your plan to get rid of monsters will have a few problems, don’t you think?

  • avatar
    zenith

    Why the Metro and not the Aspire/Festiva?

    Just as the Pinto looked like almost a quality car vs. the Vega in the ’70s, the Aspire/Festiva was a cut above the Metro–at least in the body rust area–and didn’t have that nasty-sounding 3-cylinder engine.

    If I already had a Metro or a little Ford, I’d certainly take it out of the weeds and see if it ran well enough to commute in. But pay $5k+ for someone else’s? Forget it!

    BTW, my local paper recently had an ad for a running Yugo AND a parts car for $600. I might for the same deal on a similar pair of Metros, but no higher.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    I saw a Metro delivering pizzas. Faded paint but it ran good and the it looked like it was in good condition. I considered chasing down the delivery guy and really making his night… Hey dude, this $500 car? It’s worth some big money on eBay.

  • avatar

    What a freaking idiot – $7300 for a Metro ?

    You can get a mid 90s Civic hatch that will do 40 mpg all day long for $1500-$3000.

    Oh, and its one cylinder and 30 horsepower up on a Metro – and it has double wishbones on all four corners.

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