Junkyard Find: 1989 Geo Spectrum

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 geo spectrum

The Mitsubishi Sigma I found a couple weeks ago was one rare Junkyard Find, having been sold in the United States for just two model years. Today, though, we’ve got something even more obscure: an Isuzu Gemini badged with both Chevrolet and Geo emblems, available for just one year.

The General never seemed quite sure what to do with the Geo brand; the Chevrolet-ized Isuzu Gemini aka I-Mark was available for a few years, but then became a Geo in 1989.

But wait! What’s that Chevy bowtie doing on the grille? I’m sure it all made sense after a 21-hour marketing meeting in an airless Motor City conference room.

These things were reasonably competent commuters, but didn’t exactly fly off the showroom floors.


It’s too bad Geo didn’t use this Japanese-market Gemini ad to sell the Spectrum.





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  • RHD RHD on Sep 04, 2013

    Up Shift. Once the RPMs hit about 2000, if the vacuum was low enough, the light would come on to tell you to upshift for maximum fuel economy.

  • Cary5170 Cary5170 on Jan 08, 2014

    Hi Murilee Martin! I think this is my car!! I bought one, just like this one, back in 1989 and owned it for about 7 years! Even the dent on the front bumper looks vaguely familiar. Do you have access to the VIN? I would really love to know if this car has any ties to AZ.

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
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