You may not know that today’s Nice Price or No Dice ’91 Prizm GSi was a model that ever existed. With only about 240 of these hatchbacks sold that year, it almost didn’t. This may very well be the last one around, and you’ll have to decide if it’s priced to keep that memory alive.
It may not be the holiday season yet, but yesterday’s 2012 Volkswagen GLI did have some festive lighting dressing up its dash. That was by way of an errant airbag warning light that called attention to something potentially amiss in the safety system. A few other anomalies and issues — an exchanged engine, worn tires, etc. — called into question the seller’s attempt to get $7,800 for the car. A majority of you called that out, and in the end the car fell in a 55 percent No Dice loss.
Yesterday’s GLI was a sporty riff on a humdrum family hauler. That’s a fairly common way to eke a few more bucks out a platform by targeting buyers who like a little spice to go with their automotive oatmeal. The exact same path was beaten earlier by today’s 1991 Geo Prizm GSi.
What’s that, you’ve never heard of a Geo Prizm GSi? Don’t feel bad, it’s never heard of you either. Let’s do some digging.
One of the best gags on “The Simpsons” was Ned Flanders’ attempt to flee a Terminator-like Homer who, in Ned’s mind, was getting a little too buddy-buddy. Ned’s wife, Maude, implores him to go faster, only to have Ned shout in a panic that he can’t go faster because “It’s a Geo.”
Geo didn’t just represent an easy target for America’s longest-running animated sitcom, it also did duty as GM’s corral for all of the company’s disparate captive imports under a single brand. The Prizm, as exemplified by this GSi, was GM’s version of the Toyota Corolla. Save for the Isuzu-based Storm and this model, none of Geo’s cars or trucks was particularly sporty.
That may be why so few of them found homes. The seller claims this car to be one of only 237 Geo Prizm GSi hatchbacks sold in in the U.S. in 1991. Maybe that was because when buyers went looking for hot hatchbacks they simply drove past the Geo store, as their expectations didn’t equate the brand with sporting wares? Or maybe it was just that weird spelling of Prizm that drove buyers away?
Whatever the reason, you’re unlikely to find another one of these hanging around just waiting to be snapped up, so should you find this car even halfway desirable, you might want to make a move on it.
The car is a rebadged Toyota Corolla and was built alongside the Corolla at GM and Toyota’s joint venture NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. That happens to be a pretty historic location. In the early ’80s it was GM’s testbed for implementing Toyota’s efficient production methods, an effort that would expand to other plants over time. It later served both companies production needs, churning out Corollas, Novas and Prizms. Today, the Fremont plant cranks out Teslas, that company having bought the property from GM in 2010.
This Geo is no Tesla, however. The engine is Toyota’s 130 horsepower 4AGE “Red Top” four-cylinder. There was no masking the fact that this was a Toyota mill under the hood, as it has the brand name cast right into the double overhead cam cover. A five-speed Toyota manual backs that up and sends the power to the people through the front wheels.
The car wrapped around that drool-worthy drivetrain is a bit beat up, to say the least. The once-shiny black paint is dull and hobbled by clear coat issues on nearly every surface. Red pinstripe accents remain over that, but are just as dull and worn out. The body beneath looks to be fairly straight, save for the driver’s door which is wrinkled in at the leading edge. The plain factory alloys still underpin the car, but they too show significant signs of age and neglect.
A bright spot on the car is the interior. It’s in pretty decent shape overall. There is some cracking on the corner of the dash near the driver’s door and a split in the seat face, but everything else looks to be in serviceable shape. And yes, this car does have mouse belts on the doors so there’s that annoyance to consider.
The ad claims the car to have racked up 181,000 miles and to come with a clean title. The mechanicals are said to “run/drive great” albeit with a possibly failing synchro on third gear to damp the fun. The seller closes the ad by saying that the car is a “Good project for someone that appreciates the uniqueness and rarity.”
That may be an accurate statement, but who exactly is that someone? This is a rare car, to be sure. But who would take the time and front the expense required to bring it back from its present walking dead existence?
The buyer need not be all that flush. The title of the Craigslist post mentions $1,500, but that’s actually the opening bid of the car’s eBay listing, which the seller notes is a no-reserve sale. The eBay ad had a Buy It Now price of $2,500, according to the seller, but that option no longer appears on the ad. I’m sure if you showed up and waved $2,500 under the seller’s nose the car could be yours.
What do you think, would that be an advisable course of action? Or, is that $2,500 price tag just too rich for a car that was once forgotten and, most likely, soon be forgotten again?
H/T to No-Kinja John for the hookup!
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