By on October 26, 2015

04 - 2001 Suzuki Swift in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

I live in Colorado, where recreational cannabis has been legal since the beginning of 2014. The (allegedly) medical-only stuff had been available all over Denver, complete with sign-spinners on street corners, for years before that, and so nothing much changed when the Reefer Man was allowed to sell his wares to just about any adult. Sure, hundreds of doomed recreational dispensaries have joined the hundreds of doomed brewpubs and doomed tattoo shops fighting for the not-so-abundant dollars of the thin slice of the Denver population interested in shatter hash, yeast-sludge-filled draft beer, and/or blotchy tattoos of the Chinese characters for “poop”… and I’ve started seeing bags of weed in junkyard cars here.

Prior to legalization, no self-respecting tow-truck driver or junkyard employee would have allowed free pot to slip by, but nowadays a few grams of mystery doobage is about as appealing to those guys as a half-empty 40-dog of King Cobra found in the trunk.

Here’s a Suzuki Swift that I found in a Denver yard with such a bag that I spotted tied to the gas spring on the hatch.
12 - 2001 Suzuki Swift in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

How many of us realized that the Swift (and its Geo — wait, I mean, Chevrolet — Metro sibling) could still be purchased in the United States as late as the 2001 model year? Imagine that it’s 2001 and you have a choice between a new Swift and a new Daewoo Lanos! Of course, if you’d waited for 2002, you could have purchased a new Suzuki Aerio.

20 - 2001 Suzuki Swift in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

This one has the “big-block” 1.3 liter four-cylinder engine instead of the 1.0 liter three-banger.

02 - 2001 Suzuki Swift in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

I went back to this yard a week later and this bag was still there. Why would anyone smoke this stuff, which is likely to be full of scabies flakes and carb dip, when there’s a store full of the stuff a few blocks away?

If Suzuki advertised the Swift on American TV, the ads didn’t make it onto YouTube. Here’s an ad for the more-or-less-identical ’89 Geo Metro instead.

You can still buy a Swift in many markets around the world, and Suzuki claims that it’s all about the fun.. About the only Swift fun I know about is a Hungry Hungry Hippo-themed Swift GT on a race track!

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42 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2001 Suzuki Swift, Colorado Bag-O-Legal-Weed Edition...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    I tug what’s left of my forelock in obeisance to the king of core-campus maneuvering and animal house parking patches for a generation of college students.

    Started every damn day, paint shrugged-off puke.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Type into your search engine “1995 Suzuki Swift Edmunds”. Then type into the search engine, “1994 Suzuki Swift Edmunds”.

    Your 2001 Swift is looks like a 96 that I bought for $1,000 needing an idle air control valve in 2004 and then sold for twice that when gasoline prices spiked in 2007.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      P.S. That 3 cyl, with an automatic transmission AND AIR CONDITIONING combo makes for very unsafe acceleration on modern freeways.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        My ’94 w/o AC was definitely not a highway star, either.

        But it did have a sweep spot around 73 mph where all the body resonances seemed to cancel each other and NVH lessened to about the level of a B-25.

        That it took so long to reach that speed only reminded me of the Samuel Johnson quip about the dog walking on its hind legs.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I was given a MY00 Chevy Metro four door, 1.3L, 3 spd auto as a rental for a week a long time ago. The car looked like the Engineers/Designers utilized a Twinkie for inspiration with it’s tall and uber narrow profile. Mergining into fast moving traffic was a particular delight as you mashed the accelerator to the floor and feeling the engine strain through it’s “power” 2nd gear making the worst cacaphony since I last heard Nickleback, but no discernable power increase. Absolutely the most terrifying car I’ve ever driven.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          ” Absolutely the most terrifying car I’ve ever driven.”

          Worse than a ≤1300 cc Beetle? Personally I’d say no, especially if you include braking.

        • 0 avatar
          rocketrodeo

          You obviously never drove a Chevette with an automatic.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            Actually, I did. It was a MY83 ‘Vette five door that was primer grey and over 100k miles. It had no power but I attributed it mainly to the fact it was so poorly maintained that the exhaust manifold had a hole the size of Delaware in it coupled with the infamous GM head gasket leak.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        If memory serves correctly, 1994 was the last year you could get an Automatic transmission with the 3-cylinder engine. From 1995 on, the automatic was only available with the 4-cylinder.

        A/C could be paired with the 3-cylinder on the order sheet, but never was. In real life, you only saw these cars in two configurations: 3 cylinder base model with a 5-speed and zero options, or 4 cylinder LSi model with automatic, A/C, and every other option available.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I’d love to see how the convertible version fairs, imagine a 3-speed 1.0 three cylinder, AC, extra weight, flimsy chassis, reduced aerodynamics…

        “Its more fun driving a slow car fast…provided to can even break the speed limit!”

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Pfft.

        My first car was an ’89, 5-door Metro with the 1.0 and a carburetor.

        And A/C.

        It accelerated fast enough (14.3 secs to 60 says the Internet, and that sounds plausible); you push the pedal down more, is all.

        Faster than my W115 Mercedes, for sure.

        Never had a problem getting onto the Interstate.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Those old Benz’s were a bit of a joke imo, really good lookers but dirt slow for what was an expensive car at that time.

          In ’89 Metros weren’t burdened with airbags, and they still used the nice more squared off look that seemed to offer more space.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Mentioned before a friend of mine had the 3 cylinder, 5 speed, mega blue Metro sans MY91. Being the LX it was decked out. It had A/C that actually worked well though you had to turn it off going up hill or accelerating onto the Interstate. It also had Cruise Control, electric locks, rear windshield wiper, “premium” seats and a car alarm, but no power windows or electric mirrors. Hell, the passenger side mirror was an option.

  • avatar
    Joss

    The Swift was still an improvement on the Chevette.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    From the Pintos, Chevettes, Datsun 210s, and Corollas of the 1970s to the Sparks, Yarises, Mazda2s, and Fiestas of today, there has always been one universal truth of economy cars:

    With a stick, they’re surprisingly fun, but with an automatic, they’re awful.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Oooh, 4 cylinders; now you’re talking smooth!

    I forget what the ratio of 3- to 4-banger Swifts was, but it seemed to start with a divide-by-zero function in the 80s with the Swift and Swift Turbo models and tapered off to around 4:1 in the end, with the occasional rare Canadian-market turbo 4-banger showing up from time to time. I don’t recall any force-fed 4s selling new in the USA.

    And yuck, who would risk harshing their mellow with suspected ditchweed when a fresh eighth costs a mere $20?

    • 0 avatar

      Remarkable how a market can work to the benefit of consumers, ain’t it? Better quality, better variety, lower prices and businesses eager for your trade.

      The oldest dispensary in Detroit has at least a half dozen competitors within walking distance. They still do plenty of business.

      It’s interesting how cannabis smokers have become like oenophiles. The top shelf bud is $20 a gram but you might get 30% more THC than with a $10/gm strain. In terms of THC/$, you’re better off buying twice as much of the cheaper stuff. The folks who like the expensive spread justify it on aesthetic reasons like taste and how the buds look, just like wine enthusiasts enthuse about melon and berry flavors.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        Indeed! I’m just angry COS hasn’t opened the floodgates on retail licensing: it’s all medical in town and we’re missing out on some of those sweet tax receipts, which would go a very long way towards improving city finances and – hopefully – the terrible state of the roads in this area.

        • 0 avatar

          Colorado recently announced that the state was getting significantly more revenue from taxes on cannabis than from taxes on alcohol. I’m pretty sure stuff like that gets noticed in other state capitols. The leviathan state’s voracious need for revenue will drive legalization more than consumer demand.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            You say that like it’s a bad thing. I just wish they could dope the dope with contraceptives.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I agree the State of Washington is raking money in from recreational Marijuana and it won’t be long before the legislatures in other states are the ones sponsoring the legalization bills. A few more states and the federal gov’t will not be able to overlook the revenue potential and they will legalize, regulate and tax it.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Niiiiiiiice! ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          That will all depend on how it is taxed in your state. In WA all the big tax money goes to the state. Yes the local municipality can require and charge for a business license but they don’t get any of the sin tax directly and there is no separate sales tax. Even if there the standard sales tax was collected the local portion of that is relatively small.

  • avatar

    I still see these delivering pizza to my neighborhood.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    A little less money spent on weed and more on maintenance or dealing with parking tickets, and someone might still have a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      Quite an assumption.

      It seems however, the only logical assumption would be that this car, like almost all others, was simply replaced with something nicer and newer until it was inevitably worth the most junked.

  • avatar
    Ostrich67

    I rented one of those years ago. The rental car company delivered it to my house on a tow bar, pulled by a Pontiac Grand Prix. It had the four cylinder and automatic combo that felt like it had very low gears. I recall people complaining about surprisingly bad fuel economy from those rentals. Twitchy handling on the freeway too.

    Rental spec Geo Metros had sealed beam headlights until the end.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Suziki builds excellent inexpensive vehicles. The rebadged Daewoos were NOT Suzuki built cars.
    I had a Sizuki Sidekick Sport…I purchased new. Owned it for 7 years…never gave me one problem. I sold it to purchase my Mercedes Benz S-class. (Big change…literally) My mercedes hasn’t been as trouble free as my Suzuki. I will keep my S-Class intil I’m ready. In the mean time, for utility, I might get a ’05 or older Grand Vitara.(pre GM)
    U just can’t beat them.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    IIRC, US-bound Swifts all got a four-cylinder, while it was the Metro where you had a choice of a four or three-pot (or maybe the Swifts all had the three…).

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Damn, thought I got everything out of there.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I’ve driven a few late-90s manual 3cyl hatchback Metros. They’re surprisingly entertaining and nimble.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    We briefly had an early 90’s Metro in the family, we had to get rid of it due to some nasty rust on the back end combined with it just being too little for the family.

    If you live in a crowded city these are fine (provided the roads arent falling to bits), I wouldnt use one as my only transportation.

    Out here someone has a later Metro like this one but with custom moon cap wheels, it has such a nasty “rust arch” over one of the rear wheels I’m surprised it passes inspections.

  • avatar
    Ko1

    Several years ago, I bought a 1994 Metro 3cyl 5-speed from a co-worker for $100 and a bottle of vodka. Only had it for 3 months until the fuel pump went and I still sold it for $100.

    One night, i was giving a friend a ride home when we pulled up next to a guy with a Chevy Sprint at the lights. On green, we both launched as hard as we could; power shifting up until 3rd gear when we both let off due to laughing so hard. Good times.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I rented one of these in Florida back in the mid-90’s. Granted there were not many hills to contend with but even with the 1.0 3-banger auto it was a fairly zippy and entertaining ride. Plus these have a Independent Rear Suspension, something that most subcompacts to this day do not have which allowed it to corner quite well.
    The base models and the “mileage leader” Geo Metro XFi had sealed beams and black bumpers and trim.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    When I was a car-less teenager, I worked at a photo lab where the assistant manager took pity on me and let me borrow her car whenever I needed it and she didn’t. It was an ’88 or ’89 Chevy Sprint *TURBO* with a 5-speed. I laughed at it at first, but quickly found the car endearing. It wasn’t fast, but it was quick and a lot of fun to drive flat-out. When it snowed, you could do giggle-inducing reverse donuts in the photo lab parking lot until you were just about ready to vomit.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    I had an India-made Alto 3cyl manual as a rental in Tel Aviv. The Swift is a class above it and much nicer. These things are all over Israel where a gallon of gas costs about $8/gal. It wasn’t… horrible, but turning on the AC made it dangerously slow. Well, it gets pretty damned hot and humid in TA so using the AC was pretty much a requirement. Once I got out of the city in the mornings the humidity would drop drastically while the temperature rose. I’d turn the AC off and open a window and it was fine. But I picked a KIA Rondo? I forget the name… for the following trip. Alto is OK in town but not out in the bush.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Don’t disrespect the Suzuki Swifth/Chevy Sprint/Pontiac Firefly.

    Once worked a deal on a new Sprint for my brother, trading in his beat-up T-Bar Trans Am. Got him a 3 cylinder with an auto.

    Needless to say, he is not a car guy by any stretch. I would have to arrange for him to get the oil changed, etc. Let’s just say that the poor car did not get the suggested regular maintenance.

    Nevertheless, he drove the crap out of it and it never complained or gave him any problems. And it got for the time very good gas mileage.

    There is a reason why Suzuki does so well in nations where trustworthy garages are few and far between.

    As an aside Murilee’s post demonstrates the futility and stupidity of criminalizing marijuana. It just ensures nice fat profits for those willing to break the law. The very same as prohibition. If you want rich and powerful criminal organizations just criminalize something.

    Instead legalize and tax it. Makes money for the government, ensures some quality control, reduces policing costs and eliminates the violence associated with criminality.

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    I wouldn’t turn down that free weed as I live in a decriminalized, soon to be legal state.

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