By on May 4, 2016

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Geo Metro, a Suzuki Cultus imported by GM, came after the Chevrolet Sprint version of the Cultus but before GM axed the Geo brand and started selling Chevrolet Metros, which sold in respectable numbers during its 1989-1997 run.

There was a convertible version of the Metro, which allowed thin-walleted drivers to enjoy open-air driving without having to take a Sawzall to a 20-year-old Corolla, and I’ve found one of the few remaining ones at a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.

Geo Metro 24 Hours of LeMons winners

The Geo Metro is the only car to do well in the 24 Hours of LeMons with radical tiny-car/crazy-engine powertrain swaps, and so far three of them have taken overall wins at LeMons races. From top to bottom in the photo above: the Geo Metro Gnome, with Honda CBR1000 motorcycle power, the Knoxvegas Lowballers’ Ford Contour SVT-drivetrain-swapped Metro, and the LemonAid Racing BMW M50-swapped Metro, each of which now has rear-wheel-drive and 172, 221, and 231 horsepower, respectively. Part of the reason for the Metro’s popularity among these fabricating fiends is its dirt-cheapness and easy availability.

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, door emblem - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The LSi was the top trim level in 1992, and the convertible was the most expensive of all Metros that year. Sticker was $9,999 (though I’m pretty sure few actually paid that much, given economic conditions in the early 1990s), which was a bit more than the $6,445 Subaru Justy but also way sportier.

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This one outlived its welcome in a Bay Area parking lot. If the owner left a note pleading with the tow-truck driver not to take the car, I didn’t find it.

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, driver's airbag - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

By 1992, U.S.-market cars had to have either a maddening automatic seat-belt system (possibly the only mandated safety feature more annoying than the 1974-model-year starter-interlock seat belts) or a driver’s side airbag. The Metro LSi got the airbag.

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, convertible top - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

When Rock Auto charges $210.79 for their cheapest replacement convertible top for this car, you’re looking at a pretty significant percentage of the car’s total value once the old top goes bad.

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, engine - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Three mighty cylinders, 55 screaming horsepower. A few years later, a four-cylinder engine became an option for power-crazed, high-roller Metro buyers.

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, door panel - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Not much to go wrong here.


One of many “no need to stop at the gas station” ads made by GM for various cars over the years.


Harlan Ellison thinks it’s logical!

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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28 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible...”


  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    A small-block Metro… how nice. (the big-block would have been the 1.3) Come to think of it the next generation really pushed boundaries with the 1.6

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    I had, at one time, an ’86 Sprint PLUS! What made it a Plus you ask? It had four doors, and hatch, 3 speed automatic AND a radio! For what it was, and when it was, it was actually a pretty decent little car as long as you didn’t expect blistering speed or acceleration. I lived in Rochester, NY at the time so the lack of A/C wasn’t a problem and due to the light weight of the car it handled surprisingly well in the snow. The death knell came in 1995 (so the car made it 9 years) with approx 195,000 miles on the clock; the timing belt broke and since the 1.0L 3 cylinder engine had such tight valve/piston clearance SIGNIFICANT engine damage ensued.

    • 0 avatar
      tubacity

      Sounds cheap and cheerful in a good way.
      “the timing belt broke and since the 1.0L 3 cylinder engine had such tight valve/piston clearance SIGNIFICANT engine damage ensued.”
      Interference engine is an issue with every Honda I know of. Most 4 cyl models now have timing chains which should last longer. But V6 still has timing belt.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      I had a ’96 Metro with the 1.0, and rather than snap a timing belt, the bottom timing belt pulley actually cracked and separated from the crankshaft. I assumed the engine was non-interference, because we welded the pulley back together in more-or-less the correct orientation, and the car still ran (with all the high-performance you would expect of a car with the cam timing eyeballed).

  • avatar
    daniel g.

    4 cilinders, 1.3 litres 16 valves twin cam and 100 cv NA. A pocket rocket!!!
    http://importados.testdelayer.com.ar/test/suzuki-swift-gti.ht
    not wonder why they win with a proper swap

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      When the Suzuki Swift GTi debuted I was subsisting on Pell grants, student loans and a job slinging liquor, so it was a bit of an aspirational car for me. At the time I had a fixation on the CRX but I took a Swift GTi for a spin. It was a revelation, a sublime handling DOHC 16v pocket rocket that sadly looked like a Geo penalty box. So I bought a used Prelude Si and had 100k miles of trouble free ownership.
      Why Suzuki never brought their current Swift Sport to the USA mystifies me, I drove one in Austria and fell in love. It’s shameful that they’d throw in the towel for the N. American market rather than, you know, actually try harder. Or just try.

  • avatar

    Chevy needs to bring this car back with a self-driving option and call it a Metrosexual.

    Charge $500 for reclining seats and it’d be a profitable small car.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’m thinking about the image in recession 1992, of someone stretching their budget for a top-o-line Metro at $9999. They’re all happy about its air conditioning, power steering, and air bag (wow!)

    They stop at a light, and someone else pulls up in another car they bought new in ’92. An 800% more expensive Mercedes 400SE.

    http://germancarsforsaleblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/11156818_15.jpg

    The shoulder pads and car phones must have been amazing.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    There’s a convertible Metro in the lot at the airport in Pittsburgh where mostly flight crew park. Much like my Mazda now in DC, it is probably a pilot or flight attendants “airport car”. Wheels for when you are stuck in the city you’re based in, but it isn’t home. It couldn’t have lived its entire life here, most Metros of this vintage were dead by early 2000’s easily. If the usual indifferent maintenance of cheap car owners didn’t kill them, rust did.

    I drove many of the 2nd gen Metros for the Big E in the late 90’s as a car washer,as well as the Ford Aspire. Then we started getting Hyundai Accents and they seemed like a revelation compared to the Aspire or Metro. The Aspire was way worse, in case you were wondering. The sedan versions of the Metro were hideous looking in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s because while the Metro was Japanese, the Aspire was [early, crap Kia] Korean. Ford made the wrong choice there.

      I will say the earlier Festiva version was sold as the Kia Pride, and they were still a regular sight in Korea in 08/09. I couldn’t believe it. Something keeps those running easily, apparently.

    • 0 avatar
      06V66speed

      gearhead77: I’ve heard tales of these pilots’ “airport cars”. They’re generally on the bad end of the beater spectrum. Lol

      And I thought winter beaters were bad… :/

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        They run the gamut, that’s for sure. Mine is still completely fine, it was convenient to keep it as an airport car because it was paid for. And there’s the “lifeboat” aspect of my car. If the flights fill up, I have wheels to get home, though it’s a 4 hour drive compared to a 30 minute flight.

        But I’ve seen and heard stories about other peoples airport cars. Only the best $1000 (or less) will buy for many!

      • 0 avatar
        Wscott97

        My friend has an airport car for LAX. They currently have 2 Tesla’s in their driveway and a 2000 Hyundai Sonata. The Sonata doesn’t look too bad but it’s internally rusted and starting to fall apart. They would NEVER drive the Tesla to work.
        He told me that his coworker wanted to show him her new Mercedes after a trip and when she pulled the cover off, the licence plate fell to the ground and the bumper had a big dent. Not long after, I think she bought an Airport car also.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          After garaging my car at the airport for like three days, I noticed a serious amount of black airplane silt on it when I returned. I’m sure that’s terrible on the paint for cars parked there (especially uncovered) all the time.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Had a college classmate ca. 1995 who normally drove a 67 Mustang, but was stuck with one of these for a few weeks. She being a 6ft tall gal, she looked (and felt) pretty miserable in it.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    “Griff I apologize, that Metro is one easy pushing car.”
    “Thanks Al.”

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Goddam how badly I want a Swift GTi. Pocket rocket FTW.

    But this(!!). For shame. Crusher fodder!

    Feed this to Jaws already its hurting my eyes and the monitor, too.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “Three mighty cylinders, 55 screaming horsepower. ”

    My first car was an ’89 LSi 4-door.

    It was faster than you’d think (slow, mind, but not as slow as 55hp sounds) – curb weight was *1,700* pounds.

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    I used to work with a guy that had one of these. It was the same color but also featured his name painted on the driver’s door. He was one weird dude.

  • avatar

    I had a hardtop 1993 Geo Metro hatch as my first car in high school. It was earned by working odd jobs, and I was so proud of it when I purchased it in 1998 with about 92k miles on the odometer.

    It turned out to be the perfect first car; durable with no mechanical issues and very thrifty. Back then, I could fill it up for $10, and it absorbed little of my part-time job’s paycheck to drive around.

    I had nothing to compare it to back then, and thought it was zippy enough, even with the three-speed automatic. It’d be interesting to see what I’d think of it now years later and after driving numerous other cars.

    The car itself was pretty basic; no power steering, no power windows, no air-conditioning, and no airbags. Strangely, it had door locks that would activate automatically at about 8mph; a new addition to the 1993 model that was pretty fancy for its time.

    Even with my tepid taste; it was pretty barebones. Adjusting the mirrors involved winding down the window and reaching across, the rear defroster was a towel and my hand clearing the back window, and even a tripmeter was missing.

    Still it served its purpose well, and I look back fondly on that rugged little car

    I replaced it before college with a Ford Aspire with half the miles, dual airbags, beautiful sweet air conditioning, power steering and a four-cylinder so I could have something more reliable and comfortable. That car turned out to be a money pit at the mechanics, and was even slower than the Metro despite the slight increase of power (55 vs 63, but with 400 more pounds of weight)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I should have bought the near pristine red one I was offered a couple years ago as every one I meet who has one , seems to love it and doesn’t mind the ‘ penalty box ‘ aspect of it .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      There’s no doubt that the Metro was a penalty box.

      But you have your penalty boxes, and then, you have your penalty boxes.

      Unlike most of them, the Metro was solid and well built. It was tough, it was durable, and it can be flung around without having to worry about something falling off, or burning. If my memory serves me right, it wasn’t as slow as you’d think, and could be kind of fun.

      The interior was surprisingly roomy as well, well crafted, and the post ’92 models had a more contemporary look

      Sure, it would idle rough with three cylinders and was light as a feather, but it was a fun car that would get around reliably. You can’t say the same about a Ford Aspire, Daewoo Lanos, or Pontiac LeMans

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Nate:

      I had three.

      Using the normal parameters for cars don’t figure in this thing. Yes, it was noisy. It was delicate in places. But it wasn’t something you drove – you wore it, like a jetpack.

      It wasn’t fast but it was faster than traffic flow in most places. And what you lacked in straightaway acceleration you gained in quick-flicking lane-changes and cornering.

      Penalty box? Not when you consider its dent in the budget was so low, you could eat steak when your colleagues in the company hotel were all going Mickey Dee’s. Or eating a Banquet frozen dinner, microwaved in the crew lounge.

      Mine were variants of the Airport Car – railroaders also had throwaway cars they’d keep at away-from-home terminals. And life parked in a rail yard is as hard as life under streams of jet effluvia.

      While I had one or the other of my Metros, I had, variously, a Toyota Echo or a Tacoma 4×4 at the home region. Believe it or not, I far and away preferred the Metro as a driver. Tactile steering; fling-happy handling; fifty miles a gallon…what’s not to like? The money I saved by having a car with no A/C more than paid for the cost of operating it in my home.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        THANX guys ~
        .
        I figured as much having grown up in the halcyon dayze of 36hp VW Beetles , Renault Dauphines , Fiat 500’s and so on .
        .
        Penalty boxes to some but to us who loved tossable tiny little super thrifty cars , they were great .
        .
        My ex’s next Husband had one when they were nearly new and he simply loved it , he knew nothing about cars and once time i saw it in the driveway with the cylinder head off , I was amazed to see it running again three weeks later , wood screws in most of the vacuum hoses and so on (Mexican Barrio ‘mechanic’repairs) IIRC he said it got close to 50 MPG’s on his commute .
        .
        I assume these were the same running gear as the tiny three cylinder Chevy Coupe thing ? .
        .
        -Nate

  • avatar
    MWolf

    I knew a lawyer in my home town who had one of these in that bright blue color they came in. He was a car collector. The thing was *pristine*. I asked him, “what the hell are you doing with this thing?!”. His answer was, “it’s a cute little ragtop to drive out by the lake”.

    The rest of his collection included Corvettes, a classic Caddy, and I think there was an old Jag, too. I have no idea. That little Metro seemed so out of place in his driveway.

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