It looks like we’re facing some kind of economic downturn soon, if it hasn’t started already. I know what this all means and deep down so do you: It’s time to buy that Geo Metro you’ve had your eye on.
This thought came to the Jalopnik staff, as does all of our good thoughts, in a bar across the street from our main office located inside an abandoned subway station somewhere in Manhattan. Jalopnik’s formative years were spent in the midst of the Great Recession, when we found our voice blogging about, uh, the auto industry bailouts and people building hypermiling cars out of plastic.
This was a time when Geo Metros skyrocketed past their usual purchase price of “whatever you have in your pocket the day you choose to open Craigslist” to more than one thousand dollars! Some sellers were even asking several thousand dollars for their three-cylinder cars.
It’s because everyone was losing their jobs and the idea of not having to spend four or five bucks a gallon quite so often seemed very, very appealing.
What was funny about it is that the basis for these cars, the Suzuki Swift, was actually extremely good. Super light at something around 1,800 or 1,900 pounds they drive better than you’d ever think, and a joy to thrash. They’re not, like, luxurious, and many that you find aren’t exactly in good condition inside or out, but they’re charmers.
Here is what Car and Driver had to say in 1992,
Because all three-cylinders are inherently unbalanced and typically lack power, they attract much criticism. And such was the Metro’s fate in this comparison. “Terrible idle vibration, lawnmower sound,” wrote one editor. “Engine is noisy and gutless,” agreed another. Indeed, the Metro recorded the group’s poorest acceleration time, requiring 13.1 seconds to hit 60 mph.
Also drawing hisses was the Metro’s suspension. The logbook adjectives included: “non-sure-footed” and “sloppy” and “marginal.” Not only is the Metro low on grip, but it also feints and hunts in turns—making it unpleasant to drive briskly.
You know what we’d call that today? Character, and it’s missing from so many modern cars.
And remember, they came in droptop form, too:
So maybe now is the right time to get that Geo still puttering around your neighborhood. They’re still cheap, too, and weirdly plentiful on Craigslist. You could do a hell of a lot worse for two, three or four grand at most:
I have a feeling they’ll be getting expensive any minute now.