Junkyard Find: 1992 Geo Prizm

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1992 geo prizm

We’ve seen a few NUMMI-built Junkyard Finds in recent weeks, including this ’87 Nova and this ’87 Corolla FX16 GT-S. However, the car that really comes to mind when you think of NUMMI is the Geo Prizm. Here’s an example of GM’s rebadged Corolla that I found at a self-service junkyard about 20 miles from the car’s birthplace. It’s the circle of automotive life!

Prizms and Corollas came down the same assembly line at NUMMI and were, for all practical purposes, the same car. Savvy used-car buyers soon learned that you could get a 5-year-old Prizm for half the price of a 5-year-old Corolla… but most car buyers weren’t that savvy.

Nobody has ever been able to explain the point of the Geo marque in a way that made sense to me. It was used as a catch-all badge for rebadged Suzuki, Isuzu, and Toyota cars (sadly, there were no Daewoo- or Opel-built Geos), and car buyers were just as befuddled by Geos as by Eagles.

By the early 1990s, the Corolla had already gone pretty far into its descent into the soporific transportation appliance we know today. Sure, you could get a GSi Prizm and a GT-S Corolla in 1992, but most of these cars were essentially treated as 3/4-scale Camrys. This one didn’t even make 200,000 miles before its general hooptieness condemned it to death in a Chinese steel factory.

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  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Apr 30, 2012

    Geo was to sell to "I can't buy a Chevy badged car". But, dealers didn't care, called them "Chevy Geos", and promoted cheap rebated Cavaliers. Then sell the GAP, extended warranty, 'paint protector', etc, etc. "For 20$ more a month you can add...that's like a take out pizza".

  • Andy D Andy D on May 03, 2012

    After over 30 yrs driving bugs , my folks bought a 86 Nova and a Tercel. My brother had a Metro and my DIL had a 93 Prizm. . Compared to other bottom line GMs, they lasted quite well.

  • Dukeisduke This would be a nice car. I've long been a fan of the W123 series cars - and one of my favorite colors for these. This would be the injected (D-Jetronic?) 2.8l inline six.Was the cloth always purple like this, or is it age that turns it purple?
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys nobodys mentioned free HD radio?
  • ChristianWimmer I am a huge W123 fan but I never liked the square headlights on the 280/280E/280C/280CE models and later on the post-1983 entry-level models. The W123s always looked right with the circular headlights.This is a great car, though. But 230C/CE & 280C/CE are so common here - I want a US-spec 300CD Diesel or 300CD Turbodiesel because that would be an exotic here in Germany.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys not a single word on whether this grey market would even pass smog or be driveable in the state.
  • MaintenanceCosts Gorgeous, even if the W124 coupe is even better. Too bad about that paint color, though.