Junkyard Treasure: 1993 Geo Tracker, Illinois Rust Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
When The General created the Geo brand in 1989, the idea was that cars designed and/or built by Toyota, Isuzu, and Suzuki could be sold in the United States under the GM flag (Geos became Chevrolets after 1997). Of all the cars that bore Geo badging, the Tracker stayed in production the longest, when a Suzuki Grand Vitara-based Chevy Tracker could be purchased through 2004.Here’s a frighteningly corroded 1993 Geo Tracker, spotted in a self-service wrecking yard in Joliet, Illinois.
I visited this yard while in Illinois for the Joliet Prison Break 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it has some of the best junkyard ambience I have ever experienced. Much of the inventory is kept indoors, in the ruins of an ancient factory.
Right next door is the now-closed Joliet Prison, which is best-known for serving as the setting for the opening scenes of the 1980 film, The Blues Brothers. Other than Martin Salvage in northeastern Colorado, I can’t think of a more beautiful wrecking yard.
Cars in the Upper Midwest rust real good, especially when they’re little (Canadian-built) Japanese cars.
The final owner of this Tracker was willing to put up with numerous slush-scooping openings into the passenger compartment. I didn’t feel like crawling in the mud beneath, but we can assume that the suspension mounting points were in less-than-safe condition.
Still, this Tracker made it to age 25, with nearly 150,000 miles on the clock.
Most of the first-gen Trackers (and their Suzuki-badged siblings, the Sidekick and Vitara) came with manual transmission, even in the United States, but this one has the automatic.
The festive tape stripes and pink-and-gray interior remind us of what strange times the early 1990s were.
At least we remember the Tracker today, unlike the Geo Spectrum.
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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    I worked at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario that built these vehicles from 91-97. It was a decent vehicle with decent build quality. Later I worked at a Hummer Dealership in Service. I remember a GM rep saying the only vehicle in GM's lineup that was as capable as a Hummer was the Tracker!

    • JimC2 JimC2 on Sep 29, 2018

      He probably wasn't too far off- these things were pretty hard to high-center and almost impossible to low-center. I doubt many of them saw much offroading though, not counting things like hitting curbs or parking in the grass at adult kickball games.

  • Ldallison74 Ldallison74 on Sep 06, 2018

    HA!! I live less than hour from this u-pull and go there a time or two each month. It's called Ashley's Pick-A-Part and they do not charge an entrance fee. I believe I have pictures of this same Tracker in my phone.

  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.