By on November 11, 2014

05 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinGM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— so far we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this ’92 LSi convertible, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro— and I think a happy yellow LSi convertible is more interesting than your ordinary Geozuki.
11 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe demographic group in California (where I photographed this car) most likely to drive a 24-year-old Geo also happens to overlap with groups most likely to buy Deadline fashions. Here in Colorado, you’d be more likely to see Grenade Gloves stickers on such a car.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis style of automotive tape graphics peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, though Chrysler kept going with them well into the late 1990s.
08 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

We’ve all seen the US-market Metro ads by now, so let’s go to the car’s homeland. Can any of you Japanese speakers tell us what’s happening here?

Such a happy little car!

There was a Cultus Esteem.

In Canada, it was the Pontiac Firefly.

In Australia, it was the Holden Barina.

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47 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible...”

  • avatar

    Ha, ha! Another car that was a “Junkyard Find” on the day it was built

  • avatar

    I never understood why someone would buy this car. Metros were cheap horrible cars and the only reason someone would buy one is cause they couldn’t afford something else. For the price difference of the convertible one could have bought a better car. Why call attention to yourself by driving this embarrassment with the top down? The only redeeming quality about this is that if got into an accident with it you would be thrown so far from it no one would know you were driving it.

  • avatar

    You know how everyone’s into weirdness right now?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Negotiated the purchase of a new Chevy Swift (same animal, 3 cylinder Suzuki), in the mid/late 80’s trading his old, rusted Trans Am.

    In reality although, cheap, tinny and tiny, these were hard to kill vehicles. Got great mileage, was fun to drive and about as reliable as any car on the market at the time and much more reliable than some cars many times more expensive.

    For a student on a budget, who wasn’t comfortable wrenching things on his own, this was actually a decent deal.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. For two years I drove a 3-year-old ’85 Pontiac Firefly (apparently they sold a few in the States; had MPH speedo) with the 3-cylinder 5-speed. Surprisingly fun to drive, and living in Washington, DC, a dream for parking. It was taken from me by a pickup truck, which ran a red light on Wisconsin Ave and T-boned me in the driver-side door. Spun the car about 360 degrees and several yards away, but my injuries were so minor I didn’t visit the doctor. The Firefly, alas, was totaled, squashed of life.

  • avatar

    I wonder exactly how stiff the body of that car was sans a hard top.

    Are we talking copious amounts of chassis flex?

    Why it looks like a yellow Jelly Belly. There’s nothing endearing about that soft top, either. Good God.

    I’ve never experienced a three-cylinder engine, but I can imagine how buzzy it would be.

    Part of me wants a Festiva just for the morning commute. You could actually get some halfway decent options to make them more tolerable towards the end of their run.

    • 0 avatar

      “I wonder exactly how stiff the body of that car was sans a hard top.”

      All you had to do was to attach the optional bungee cord (Sport Suspension Package) from the windshield frame to the rear bumper and that body-flex would stiffen right up

      • 0 avatar

        I remember my folks had a 96 Camaro w/ a power ragtop.

        That bastard was THE quintessential example of chassis flex.

        And the best part was that all the squeaks and rattles came along with that as an added bonus!

        Thanks, GM! :)

    • 0 avatar

      I had a Ford Aspire as a loaner for a weekend. 2-Door, 5 speed. I liked it so much that I tried to buy it. That fell through, but the next week I found a 90 Festiva 5 speed and bought it. I drove it for a year and when it came time to relocate, I sold it to a co-worker for exactly what I paid for it. It was totally reliable, fun to drive, and of course, excellent on fuel. When gas sky rocketed after 9/11, I couldve kicked myself for getting rid of it.

      I rented an early 2000s Metro sedan (auto). I HATED it. Slow, noisy, and used more fuel than a 4cyl/auto Tempo I had (a larger, heavier car that also lacked overdrive, but at least it got out of its own way!).

  • avatar

    Oh Muffy! What’s become of your convertible??

  • avatar

    I’ve sold three of these used, two yellow ones similar to this (one stick, one auto), all online, all within two weeks of obtaining them, all for a suprising amount of money considering what these things were.

    I remember someone test driving one and complaining how slow the car was with the A/C on.

  • avatar

    Repo Man quote, for the win!

  • avatar

    I knew this as the awesome convertible featured in the second Honey I Shrunk The Kids movie. The baby picks it up on the (old part of the) Las Vegas strip and drives it across the signage, eventually resting it upon some neon lady’s leg.

    Given the setting, I thought it was a sporty, expensive car!

  • avatar

    This car reminds me of a couple of other cheap convertibles you don’t see any more. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Chevy Cavalier or Toyota Paseo convertible.

  • avatar

    The 70-something guy across the street has been driving the same Metro at least since he bought the house 20 or so years ago. I’m guessing he bought it new. The 60-something woman across the street recently had her ’92 Metro totaled. She told me she bought it new.

    In the high desert of metro Denver cars don’t rust. Without the oxidation threat, apparently Metros/Suzukis of that era were fairly robust cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude, you need to move out of that weird neighborhood, Yikes!

      • 0 avatar

        Weird? I don’t know…I don’t think it’s particularly weird. In places where cars don’t rust – Denver, much of CA, all of AZ, NM, NV, etc. – it seems as if more people keep and repair their cars instead of trading them in. It’s practical to do so and results in new cars being less of a status symbol. In the rustbelt and much of the East a newer car is more of a status symbol. And oftentimes it turns into an obsession, what the author of the Millionaire Next Door calls “big hat, no cattle” i.e., people yearn to appear rich when in reality they have a negative net worth.

  • avatar

    The struggle for Julie was real.

    “Whoaaa. Check this one out.”, Julie yelled to her cohort. Jeff scrabbled around on some debris in an attempt to join her. He decided against it, and instead changed course to walk around the shredded ruin of a double wide. “Yeah. That’s the money shot right there.” Julie raised her camera, and made slight adjustments before engaging it’s digital shutter. The focal point was the salty remains of a store emblazoned with sunburned graffiti showcasing a rabid Goofy with the word “GONE”. The 50’s era font of which synced well with the pornographic decay of what was once a jewel in the middle of the desert. Fortunately the winds were favorable today, and the two didn’t have to subject themselves to the full brunt of the decay of a million tillapia littering the shores of the Salton Sea. “It’s time to go B.”, said Jeff, “Probably gonna get weird up in here when the sun drops.” Indeed, the natives looked restless. An old man pulled up on a battered golf cart with a green oxygen bottle as his passenger. The old man leered at Julie’s attire as they climbed down into the yellow Metro. The Deadline Kristina Rose tee was tied off, exposing her exquisitely toned midriff. The man gazed at the full frontal nudity of the porn star on the shirt, took a hit of O2, and then took another after unabashedly gawking at the tastiest Asian he had seen since the 70’s. “Let’s get the fu*k outta here.”, said Jeff as Julie pulled the Geo’s shifter back.

    “Should we put the top up?”, Jeff asked, screaming against the wind and Suzuki drone. “No. I…I don’t know.”, replied Julie. The exposure to the smell, now growing in intensity as they neared Palm Springs, steadily grew worse than sweating out 110º with the top up on an A/C-less vert. They pressed on. Julie never drove with the top up anyway. “The Banana”, as she referred to the Metro, lost all charm with the roof up. It replaced the nuance of freedom and carefree youth with a claustrophobic feeling. The peel was even left down when parked overnight in rough neighborhoods.

    Julie admired the wind turbines dancing off the side of I-10. She thought about pulling off to the side to get some abstract shots, but she knew she would be verbally accosted by her companion for doing something so “played”. Her hair fluttered around the tilted Chiraq ballcap. She reached up to readjust it for the 30th time, along with her sunglasses. They had traded the little Metro’s complement of fuel for escape from the stench. Speed was adjusted so as to lessen the beating of the unbalanced front tire against pavement. The banana headed into the sunset. “Fu5king beautiful.”, Julie mumbled to herself.

    Julie absentmindedly pumped precisely five gallons of fuel into the Metro. The citizens of Banning looked her obscene top over, their attention drawn by the surging of the gas pumps. Julie simply cocked her head with attitude, and adjusted her shades, stopping short of flipping off everyone. Once Jeff had returned with the Slim Jims the Geo was started, allowing the bass of the 12″ sub to rattle the trunk lid, along with the minds of the squares. The exit wasn’t as dramatic as she planned however, as the headlights would not turn on again. She worked the switchgear until a faint contact was made, and pulled out of the gas station.

    “What’s that smell? Do you smell that?”, Jeff asked. Julie concentrated on the semi they were following down the Pomona Freeway. “I think it’s this truck.”, she replied. It was a sweet smell, definitely automotive related, and strange to the two of them. “Oh sh*t!”, she yelled over the road noise. Within the banana’s dimmed cluster, a needle was climbing over the “H”. The two were alarmed once more upon reaching the next steep hill, when the Geo lost half of what little power it had to begin with. The little mill bucked and shook, cresting the hill at 20mph. The Banana limped off to the side in the darkness while 18-wheelers roared past.

    Help was summoned. Following an expensive tow truck ride, an expert from Sears determined that the radiator had exploded, and that the fan was “probably fried”, and that “you could have cooked the motor too”. Julie was completely cleaned out financially from the tow. “Oh my god, oh my goddddd.” She and a few of her friends came to gather her personal effects and audio system from the car in the Sears parking lot.

    The flatbed pulled The Banana up the ramp. Julie held the image in the viewfinder, and pressed the button.
    “I wish they hadn’t put the top up.”

  • avatar

    White Metro convertibles always made me think “Ice cream! “. I wonder if anyone ever insulated the trunk and set up a soft-serve machine??

  • avatar

    Question here. Did the convertibles come that way from the factory or were they sent to an outside company for conversion?

  • avatar

    Ah yes, the car that had lower torsional rigidity than cooked ramen noodles. Think it was C/D who remarked that it and then the Solara were the cars that made the extra willowy Saab convertible seem like a paragon of structural strength.

  • avatar

    The naysayers notwithstanding, I found the Metro (I had three, all used, over some years) a zippy perfect city car. True, it was chintzy; loud; not that durable…although not the overt ripoff so many domestic GM cars of that era were. It was also well-balanced and unbelievably fuel-efficient.

    They did rust, and fast – but that was only five years since Toyotas, the quality benchmark, rusted as fast. The three-cylinder engine was apt to die suddenly of odd problems

    (I killed one when the EGR valve stuck on a long trip; five hours on the road burned all exhaust valves and destroyed the engine. Lost so much power that by the time I got where I was going, it wouldn’t pull over second gear; and once turned off, it never restarted again)

    but they were to be had CHEAP. And this generation, early 1990s, actually fit a big guy.

    Reverse status. No, none of mine were a convertible. That…would be taking it too far, even for me.

  • avatar

    Every time I see one of these I can’t help but assume that the owner of this type of vehicle would have semi-excessively referred their ‘convertible’ in casual conversation.

  • avatar

    The Festiva was not a “badge engineered” Kia, it was the other way around. Yes, it was manufactured by Kia in Korea, but it was a Ford/Mazda design, not a Kia design.

  • avatar

    In the pantheon of nameplates under which the (hard top) car was sold, we shouldn’t forget the 4×4 Subaru Justy built in Hungary from about 2000 to (?) 2002/3.

    For example:[email protected]/6921521775/

  • avatar

    A roommate had four door Metro in college. Carrying four full sized guys, the driving stability on the road was downright dangerous. It was clearly a disposable car.

    • 0 avatar

      Three big men and overnight bags…will put one on the bump stops.

      It is not a carpool vehicle. It’s cheap, personal transportation; and it shines in city use. Freeways can be acceptable, depending on local speeds and nature of traffic.

      I accepted it for what it was…I had a better car, also thirstier, for when I needed it. Saved the miles on the good car; and the $1000 West Coast Geo (I lived in New York State; rust-free was a real novelty) paid for itself in short order.

  • avatar

    My college car was a 93 2 door GEO Metro 5 speed with no radio. I use to drive it from Chicago to St. Louis every other weekend after putting only 5 dollars in the tank. It was actually kind of speedy on the highway until an truck needed to pass me but none the less, it was actually a decent car for a rather broke student back in 2002. Any who, I ended up killing the radiator during a hot Missouri summer and the car never recovered.

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