Starting with the Chevrolet Sprint in 1985, General Motors sold rebadged versions of the Suzuki Cultus all the way through the 2001 model year. For the 1989 through 1997 model years, these cars were sold as Geo Metros; after the demise of the Geo brand, they became Chevrolets.
Unlike most miserable econoboxes, the Metro’s decades-long reputation for frugality has kept it on the road for longer than most of its competition, and 21st-century examples are very rare in wrecking yards. Here’s one in a Denver self-service yard.
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.
GM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— so far we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this ’92 LSi convertible, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro— and I think a happy yellow LSi convertible is more interesting than your ordinary Geozuki.
As a former Metro owner— about ten years ago, I found a low-mile ’96 Metro with four-cylinder and automatic for a scrap-value price and couldn’t say no to the deal— I’ve always sort of liked Suzuki’s little no-lux gas miserwagen. It takes a special Metro for me to include it in this series, however; we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro, and now I’ve found one of the very rare Metro convertibles at a California self-service wrecking yard.
It takes a really special Geo Metro to achieve Junkyard Find status; the last one that managed the feat was this bright green electric-powered ’95, which turned out to be a Ree-V conversion made in Colorado during the EV optimism of the late 2000s. During a trip to my old San Francisco Bay stomping grounds a few weeks ago, I spotted today’s Junkyard Find parked just a few yards away from this will-make-you-haz-a-sad 1960 Nash Metropolitan.
TTAC commentator crabspirits writes:
I stumbled upon your Lemons Z34-fiero article. My brothers both had LQ1 Cutlasses and whoever designed that engine was a sadist. They both blew the headgaskets and were impossible to work on. FYI: we run the SHO-swapped, mid-engine Geo Metro in the 24 Hours of LeMons. I had some good battles against that LQ1 Fiero, some captured on my helmet cam.
Normally, I wouldn’t consider an 18-year-old Suzuki Cultus badged by a now-defunct GM marque to be worthy of inclusion in this series, but this particular example— which I found at my favorite Denver self-service wrecking yard— has been converted to electric power and is thus sort of interesting.
While today’s Arse Sweat-a-Palooza winner on laps is indeed the same Honda-motorcycle-engined Geo Metro that won the 2008 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza, it’s really a much different car now. In ’08, the Geo Player Special (then known as the Metro Gnome) had the CBR900RR engine driving the front wheels, via an ingenious chain drive that used a toilet plunger as a grease seal. Since that time, the engine— now a CBR1000— has been moved back and now drives the rear wheels.
No story should ever start, as this one does, with “my First Rover Metro.” The implication that there are more Metros to come is all too obvious, and could probably be best categorized as a “cry for help.” In any case, my first Rover Metro was a teal 1995 1.1L Kensington edition, purchased for £60 from a friend in Bishop-Stortford. The Kensington edition meant I got shards of carpet over the door panels, and the kind of pizzazz that only an engineer from Coventry would be able to come up with. The Metro lasted only 19 hours in my hands before a brake failure led to its demise into the back of a yellow Hyundai. My second Rover Metro was a 1997 Tahiti Blue 1.1L Ascot edition*, which meant I got full wheel covers and blue piping in the velour. This only accelerated my descent into the world of English motoring, where I found joy and fulfillment in the death rattle of a Rover K-series engine.
*astute readers will recall that both vehicles are technically Rover 100’s, but are always remembered in pop culture as the Metro.
Americans generally just don’t take too well to tiny cars. Perhaps they’re too much like toys, not really yet grown up? The Metropolitan certainly looks the part, resembling an amusement park ride or clown car rather than a genuine automobile a self-respecting grown-up American would drive. And this particular Metro only reinforces that stereotype: it’s owner is fourteen, and he’s owned it since he was ten. “Dad, can I have this cool car?”
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