Junkyard Find: 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1992 geo metro lsi convertible

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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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5 of 28 comments
  • -Nate -Nate on May 04, 2016

    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

    • See 2 previous
    • -Nate -Nate on May 07, 2016

      @JustPassinThru 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

  • MWolf MWolf on May 04, 2016

    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.

  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.
  • Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road