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]

Join the conversation
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.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.