Junkyard Gem: 1991 Geo Metro LSi Convertible

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Beginning in 1985, General Motors brought over Suzuki Cultuses and sold them here with Chevrolet Sprint badges, which Americans bought in surprisingly large numbers (considering the crash in fuel prices around that time). When the time came for The General to launch a separate brand selling rebadged Japanese machinesGeo— the second-generation Cultus became the Geo Metro. Sporting a fuel-sipping three-cylinder engine, the Metro mostly sold to penny-pinchers interested only in cheap commuting… but GM decided to make a fun convertible version, anyway. Here's one of those cars, finally retired near Denver at age 30.

The 1991 Metro hierarchy started with the El Cheapo base and XFi models, at $6,795 (about $13,810 today), then moved up to the better-equipped LSi. The LSi hatchback coupe cost $7,795 ($15,840 in 2021), while the LSi convertible stood at the top of the Metro pyramid at $9,740 ($19,795 now). Believe it or not, Ford managed to undercut the 1991 Metro with its Mazda-built Festiva, priced at $6,620 in its cheapest form.

You could buy a Suzuki-badged version of this car, known as the Swift, and the Swift GT had a screaming four-cylinder engine. 1995 and later Metros also had the option of a four-banger, but a 1.0-liter three-cylinder was the only engine available in the 1991 Geo Metro. If you wanted to get close to 60 highway miles per gallon, the Metro XFi had a specially-tuned 1.0 that delivered, though it sent a mere 49 horsepower to the front wheels (the last new car available in the United States with under 50 horsepower— including highway-legal EVs— was the 1993 Metro XFi, by the way). The engine in today's Junkyard Gem was rated at 55 horses.

A five-speed manual transmission was standard equipment in every 1991 Metro, though a thoroughly miserable three-speed slushbox could be had for $465 extra (about $945 today). Because most Metro buyers wanted fuel economy first and foremost, automatic Metros are rare (though I have managed to find one in a boneyard).

How many total miles? The five-digit odometer means we'll never know.

The 1991 Metro convertible came from Japan, but all the others sold here that year were built in Canada. Today, that plant builds the Chevy Equinox.

A new convertible for less than 10 grand was a steal in 1991, when a new Mercury Capri convertible cost $12,588. The Mazda Miata cost $13,800, Volkswagen's Golf Cabriolet started at $16,175, the Ford Mustang convertible went for $16,222, the Chrysler LeBaron convertible cost $16,399, and so on. Actually, that Miata looks like the best fun-per-dollar deal of the whole ragtop bunch for 1991.

Amazingly, 1991 Metro buyers could get air conditioning (for 670 bucks, or around $1,360 clams today), but I've never found an early Metro with refrigerated air. This one does have the factory AM/FM/cassette Delco radio, at any rate.

The Metro became a Chevrolet with the dismantling of the Geo brand after 1997, and sales continued through 2001.

How much? No way!

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