By on July 25, 2012

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!

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32 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Suzuki Swift...”

  • avatar

    Here in Quebec, also know as subcompacts heaven in America, those Swifts were everywhere, not a rare sight at all. Didn’t they run on 12″ wheels ?

    • 0 avatar

      I had one exacly like that. Drove it 20 years and put on a 1/4 million miles. I really miss it. If there was a dealer even remotely near where I live – I’d buy another.

      Mine had 13″ wheels. They also sold them at Walmart as aftermarket. I had a summer and a winter set.

    • 0 avatar

      You still see quite a few of these cars (and their Chevy, Pontiac and Geo brothers and sisters) around Metro Vancouver, however they are getting rarer by the day. Those that still exist tend to be patched up with duct tape, have missing windows and coat hangers for aerials in true cheap-ass-beater style.

    • 0 avatar

      I own a 1997 reiteration of this venerable machine–a Geo metro, 4 cyl. 5 spd. 183k mi. original everything–axles, alternator, AC, timing belt…(cept breaks, and tires of course…and speakers). I average 37 mpg w/ AC. Floor this thing all go’damn day with A/C pump’n, wife, kids and gear in tow…worst case = 33 MPG. HWY = 42 MPG consistently.

    • 0 avatar

      Mine’s a 4 door sedan BTW. The trunk is very big for this size of car. Rear seats fold down too.

  • avatar

    I thought the Swift has all 4-cylinder engine, the 3-cylinder is exclusive to the Geo Metro? Or did they came with the 3-cylinder also?

    I had one as a rental once, 5-speed too, and it actually is quite fun to drive. Though I did feel quite vulnerable… And it’s not a highway machine by any means.

    • 0 avatar

      The Chevy/Geo/Chevy Metro (first gen was a Chevy Sprint Metro) had the same engine options. They were good, fairly reliable runabouts that got insane gas mileage, easily getting at or near 50 mpg. Your choice was the 1.0L 3 cyl, 1.3L 4 cyl or 1.3L 16V 4 cyl producing a whopping 79HP; however, in an incredibly light car that actually was fast for its day.

      Interestingly, the Ford Festiva also had a 3 cylinder option with the 1.3L four being the “big” engine, both from Kia Motors, not Daewoo, but most likely the same as the Swift.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    The Swift GT – with the 16 valve 1.3 liter Four – was supposed to be a fun, cheap pocket rocket. Suzuki missed the Japanese import tuner car craze of the mid to late 90s by just a few years – too bad for them.

  • avatar

    I always thought these were cute little cars. Here in Philadelphia, I see a few of them on the road occasionally, but they never took off, as you noted. PIty that.

  • avatar

    I built one of these for Lemons with a Taurus V6 in the rear, and another Lemons car that uses most of the Metro mechanicals. In the process, I’ve become some sort of a Metro/Swift expert-junkie. With only 1700lbs and a 5spd, they are not nearly as pathetic as most people think, even with the 1.0 liter 3. We consistently get our asses kicked by one, despite our huge power advantage.

    They are surprisingly durable, but with one major flaw. The front control arm mounts to horn-like protrusion on the frame. Being the lowest point, this hollow structure fills with water and rots out in the worst way. Then one day your whole front suspension rips off with a whirling axle. Nobody around Chicago throws one of these away, so the ones in the yards are mostly all frame-death victims. An indicaton of this car’s appeal is the majority of them with major frame repairs already done to this area.

    One thing that surprised me was the fanaticism surrounding the convertible version of this car. You can only imagine.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny you mention the fanaticism about the convertibles. In high school, a friend’s dad had a metro convertible and gave that thing a ridiculous amount of love. Monthly interior detailing, hand wash/wax/polish, kept the engine bay meticulously clean, and even a set of tasteful alloys. He also had a beater metro which I once saw him haul a washer and dryer in.

      • 0 avatar

        For years this was the default “…and a brand new convertible” on the Price is Right. It was the cheapest convertible you could buy no doubt, thus it became somewhat of a cult classic in its own right. It was like the VW Bug of the early 90s, everyone knew someone who had one.

      • 0 avatar

        Got one (Metro Convertible) here in Des Moines, IA, that some farmer has been trying to get rid of for two months now. I believe his problem in selling it is the horrid flat gray original paintjob on it.

        A cult of personality for the Geo Metro?? Whodathunkit. But then, there’s quite the following for the Nash Metropolitan.

  • avatar

    If fuel economy’s the game, the Metro’s the name. All the people who hate on cars like these are just trying to drive them too damn fast. If everyone drove a Metro nobody could bitch about gas prices.

  • avatar

    A good friend had one of these in college. The Swift was actually quite a bit nicer car than the Metro: a 4 cylinder engine, composite headlamps, some character lines stamped into the hood. In a car in this price range, such enhancements are the difference between a Metro and … something that is not a Metro.

    It could have been youthful exuberance and inexperience with actual fast cars, but I remember it going like stink and handling like a go kart. Light weight and manual steering did this car a lot of favors. Neat, neat little car.

    That car is the reason I sometimes find myself surfing to the Mazda2 configurator and selecting zero options…

    • 0 avatar

      You could get the same headlights and interior in the Lsi trim level.

      The headlights I could never understand. The cheaper ones had many more parts, likely cost more to make in comparison.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh yeah, you could get them on the Lsi.

        That headlight thing always puzzled me too. It’s not a practice limited to GM (Toyota did it on the Tercel in the early ’90s), but the Colorado/Canyon is the last vehicle I remember seeing this on. It always seemed like a lot of trouble and expense to engineer, certify, manufacture, and assemble another headlight assembly just to upsell people to the next trim level. Ended up feeling like a punitive move to remind people they should have spent more money.

  • avatar

    I ride my bike by a swift 4 dr hatch every single day. Weird little car…

  • avatar

    Bought my ex one these to teach her stick. Loved that damned thing easy to work on and went like stink in traffic. I would hit the on ramp and gun it through third not letting off through the right and middle lane back ups until i hit the fast lane . I would get damn near 40 to the gallon even at 80. Such a fun tin can on wheels.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This brings back a golden memory.

    I was a freshman at a small little college in upstate New York. Every couple of weeks I would go shopping for basics… and then I saw it.

    The supermarket was giving away a brand new yellow Geo Metro convertible.

    What to do?

    I took a couple hundred entry forms since you could enter as many times as you wanted, filled them out, and brought them all back to the supermarket. After a dozen or so times I thought my chances of winning were about 20%. I’m sure plenty of other folks were doing the same thing.

    I won!!!

    25 pounds of free meat.

    The college was kind enough to store the meat in the freezer for me. It may not have been a Metro. Oh well. Given that I moved shortly afterwards to the Atlanta area, I may have still kept the car for the long haul. Free new car plus great fuel economy would have been quite a frugal combination!

    I’m not complaining though. I was probably the best fed student at that school for quite a while.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The guy who delivered my newspaper had a Metro. An obese good ole boy in such a tiny car. His paper route was mostly rural, drive a 1/4 mile, stuff a paper in the paper tube, on to the next paper tube. He used it as a delivery vehicle for 4-5 years. Good memories of drinking coffee in the pre dawn hours and waiting for my daily paper.

  • avatar

    A buddy of mine and I did some autocrossing in the late 80’s, and it seemed like we would ultimately run into a couple of cars that would kick our old Dodge Omni’s *ss everytime.

    One was the Suzuki Swift GTi, the other was the Mitsubishi Mirage xxx (the non turbo hot rod version). I can remember some guy in the Pittsburgh Region SCCA who had one of the GTi Swifts. We’d run into him pretty frequently at the competitions and he’d just stomp the competition.

    Not too long after, my first child came along and I parted ways with my racing buddy. But if I were to have gotten back into Solo again at that time, the Swift GTi would have been #1 on my list of cars to get.

  • avatar

    I loved the 3 door Metro/Swifts with the manual five speed and A/C. Great cars.

    The four door with the 3 spd automatic on the other hand?? Absolutely terrifying to drive. Everything that made the 3 door so good, made the 4 door so bad. It was longer and taller, but not wider so it literally looked like a Hostess Twinkie on 12″ rims. You didn’t sit in it as so much you sat ON it, like a weird throne to cheap design. The 3 spd gave up the first gear so quickly and hung on the second for soooooooooooooooooo long that you though you’d never get to highway speed and never mind trying to pass anyone on the highway. Just keeping that sh**box on the highway against a light breeze was enough excitement. Had that rental for two weeks in 2000 and will never forget my sense of pure nail-biting terror every time I slowly entered into traffic in the four door.

  • avatar

    My Dad had a first gen Sprint. He was drinking and driving on a country road and rolled it. It landed on the other side of a cattle fence, on its wheels. He found a gate and drove it the rest of the way home. He put it in his quansit hut for several years waiting to get it on the road again. But he never did, he never drank while driving again either.

  • avatar

    I know a pastor who had a 3 cylinder. Never rode in it – not Christian enough. She kept about 14 years. It was provided by her son. The red paint lost its gloss towards the end. She loved the little blighter and often praised the mileage. She has a Sonic now. The Metro had to be a huge improvement on the Chevette.

    The jap partnerships [Metro Nova] seemed to work far better for GM.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    You did not want to be a passenger in the back seat and get rear-ended by anything bigger than a motorcycle.

  • avatar

    I had a 1989 Swift Gt, and while it was fun to toss about with 100hp and about 1700 curb weight and even had a factory Kenwood stereo (woo woo), they weren’t the most reliable cars in the world. My seat back actually broke in 2 while doing 60mph on the freeway. I had to hang on for dear life since I no longer had a seatback. I took the car to the dealer where I bought it and requested a new seat since it was still under warranty (15,000miles). They told me that they didn’t carry such things as seats and I’d have to wait on parts from Japan which could take 2-3 months…. Needless to say I traded my Suzuki in that day on a new car.

  • avatar

    Used to see these things all over the place, now, not as much, though to be fair, most of what I see are the 1990’s generation, this one and the more jellybean models that came after it.

    And we didn’t get the Swift until later, like 1988 if I recall. It was simply the Chevy Sprint when these first appeared here.

    It was that first generation Sprint that I liked and about 2 years or so ago, spotted a blue 5 door parked on the street not too far from where I live that still looked to be drivable. At the time, it was parked next to a rather beat looking first gen Subaru Brat and down the street was a 72-74 Chevy LUV truck in that weird yellow green they had that also looked to be in running condition.

    Up until a year ago or so, someone nearby my apartment building had a white Metro convertible. Haven’t seen it in about a year but it may well be still kicking around but who knows.

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