A Geode is a hollow rock that upon cracking open reveals a crystalline interior. Geo, on the other hand, was GM attempt to crack the small car market. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Metro will save you on gas, but will driving it leave you feeling hollow?
High gas prices or not, for 87% of you there was no way that fourteen large was leaving your pocket in exchange for yesterday's 1981 Rabbit Pickup, no matter how guten tag it might have been. There was obviously a lot of love put into that truck's execution, but as they always say, you can't put a price on love - except of course, in Nevada. That VW was one pricey pickup, and it represented a way to beat the oil companies at their own game - the expensive way. Today we've got a car from the other end of the spectrum - one that sips gas and won't eat a hole in your wallet, even if it does look a little moth-eaten.
In a classic Simpsons episode, the Flanderseses flee Homer's smothering attempts at making Ned his BFF by crashing through their garage door and hightailing it down the street. In terminator-like fashion, Homer chases them while Maude shouts, ‘Come on, Ned, move this thing! Panicked, Ned responds fatalistically, ‘I can't! It's a Geo!'
While that was funny, sardonic, and pretty spot-on, at least you can bet Ned was getting some pretty good-iddly mileage. And that'll be the case with today's 1992 Geo Metro convertible. Unlike yesterday's Rabbit pickup, which got all Robert Frost between filling stations (think about it) due to its diesel engine, this Metro owes its parsimony to a tiny 3 cylinder hummingbird of a motor.
Built by Suzuki - makers of the mighty Hayabusa - the 998-cc Metro motor seems like Chihuahua to that bike motor's rabid Pitbull, but what it loses in rail gun-like acceleration, it more than makes up for in lack of power. The sohc triple utilizes several tricks to reduce both friction and mass, among them a hollow camshaft, and that conspicuous absence of a fourth piston. Those efforts pay off with exceptional fuel economy. They also make for an output of 55-horses which will move the automatic equipped. . . hey, where you goin'?
Okay, it's a three-speed slusher, so a number of those precious-few 55 ponies will go towards paying the piper of shifting convenience. That stands in contrast to yesterday's five-speed VW, and additionally, while that Rabbit was a completed project, this Metro is offered as one at its start. The bodywork, while complete, looks a little rough around - and between - the edges, and the convertible top needs a new plastic rear window to be adequately weather tight. At least it still has all four wheel covers, even if they're are plastic. The miasma-clouded headlamps are also polycarbonate, and appear able to produce about as feeble an illumination as provided by a bee lighting his fart.
Inside dim lighting might actually improve things as it has all the charm of a public restroom - the Men's, not the Ladies, as there is a difference, you pigs. The dash is gnawed upon, and the radio looks like it was the victim of a theft attempted by a not particularly bright chimpanzee. The condition of the car, both inside and out belies the seller's claim that it has fewer than 60K on the clock. Maybe it's really 460K? But so what if it is? Yeah it needs work, and even though the driver's-side door panel is missing, the seller might throw in the Vise Grips® serving as a window winder. That puts you one tool closer to restoring this car to its past - fuel sipping - glories, or gives you something to steer with when the wheel eventually falls off or is stolen for its airbag.
But why would you even bother restoring it? After all, the idea is to counter the rise in gas prices for as little as possible, and this car looks to be drivable as-is. So as long as it doesn't rain, or you attempt any on-ramp heroics against 18-wheelers and those who don't pay for their own gas you should be okay just shit-boxing around in it. Sure, the seller says it's ripe for a restoration, I say it's ripe for riding around in while wearing boxers and a bathrobe, and its $1,200 price bears that out.
That works out to $100 a month spread out over the next year - or 300 gallons of gas at four bucks a pop. Let's say you do 12K a year, and you're currently getting 20 MPG. That's 600 gallons of dead dino juice. Switch up to this 40 MPG monster and you'll do that with only 300 gallons, albeit pretty slowly, and potentially with the back of your robe soaked through when it rains. Based on that grade school math, you'd be breaking even your first year, and in year two, you'd be the object of narrow-eyed stares by disgruntled oil company execs who blame you personally for their annual bonuses being only seven figures. You inconsiderate bastard.
So what do you think, is this matchbox of a Metro worth that $1,200 asking price in its current state of dishevelment? Or, is that too much to go Metro?
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