For $3,700, This Pontiac Is Pretty Fly

Illustration for article titled For $3,700, This Pontiac Is Pretty Fly
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Pontiac Firefly rocked three-cylinders before rocking three-cylinders was cool. You'll need to decide if this Canadian import's price is equally rocking.

Suzuki today is majority-owned (51%) by Volkswagen, (oops, old news) but back in the '80s the company had a long-term fling with GM. That partnership included setting up house in Canada in the form of the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. GM provided the house and initially Suzuki furnished it with a number of their models for the North American and Middle Eastern markets.

Illustration for article titled For $3,700, This Pontiac Is Pretty Fly
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One of the models built at CAMI was the Pontiac Firefly, a car that you might know better as the Chevy Metro, or Suzuki Cultus, or Forsa, or Swift, or Holden Barina or - are you ready for this - the Subaru Justy. Yes, the little Suzuki that could went under a ton of different names in different markets and for a time in Europe it went disguised as a Subie.

Considering its rarity, the existence of today's car might be as confounding as the thought of a Suzuki passing as a Justy, unless of course you meet the following criteria -

  • Are a Hockey fan
  • Have poutine stains on your shirt - which makes you want to eat more poutine
  • Frequently point south and laugh
  • Are presently enjoying a hot cup of Tim Hortons coffee and a Dutchie

That's right, the answer is what is a Canadian, just like Alex Trebek. And if you don't presently meet any of those criteria and still consider yourself to be Canadian, well then get with the program! Maybe you're actually Minnesotan?

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Canadians are the folks who are just like us United Staters only generally considered to be less ass-holier than thou. And what do the Canucks get for all their trouble being so polite and globally innocuous? Well, they used to get car models that we in States never did, including this 1991 Pontiac Firefly Turbo. Bastards!

Illustration for article titled For $3,700, This Pontiac Is Pretty Fly
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Was that our loss and Canada's gain? Well, just look at this bad boy. It has a turbocharged 993-cc three pot pumping out a strapping 70-bhp, a five-speed stick, boy-racer body work (love that hatch spoiler), and sporty accouterments indoors.

This one is presently at the New Jersey shore, in storage. The ad claims that the car was brought there from Florida (of course) a couple of years back. Well, you could glean that from the ad, if you are able to slog through the seller's copy that was obviously lifted from a failed eBay auction. Dear Pontiac Firefly guy, see this >.< ? That's a period. Learn it, know it, use it.

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You don't need to read all that stream of unconsciousness if you don't want to as I think I've broken the code. The seller says that the car has been in storage since arriving in the Garden State, which means that it hasn't seen any serious weather, and Hurricane Sandy was some serious weather. That also means that it's slowly going downhill as it now requires a jump to get started due to a lack of action. Use it or lose it, my friends.

Illustration for article titled For $3,700, This Pontiac Is Pretty Fly
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There's also the issue that it will smoke after idling a while. Maybe it's just bored? Other problems include an interior that's pretty beat up, the dash and driver's seat showing a lot of wear. There's also a number of missing switch caps on the binnacle and Audiovox-looking speakers cut into the dash top. There are Geo Metro seats in back which I guess is like having to wear your bother's underwear or something, but whatever, they're not original.

On the outside, this 112K hot hatch is reasonable, although the nose is road speckled and the headlamps look miasmic. That off-set scoop on the hood feeds what is either a tiny intercooler or the world's most awkwardly-located George Foreman grille.

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Pluses include new brake and axle bits along with doors that presently open from both the inside AND OUTSIDE. The hood apparently is still a bit recalcitrant however. You can catch more shots of the car form the seller's Botophucket here, including some very artistic extreme close ups of random parts.

Pontiac is no more, and their Canadian Firefly Turbo model, which burned so very brightly but for so short a time, is a mere footnote in the marque's history. You could be part of that foot if you were to buy this red '91, and to do so will cost $3,700 American.

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This is a rare opportunity and it's now time for you to say if it's also a good one to avail oneself of at that price. What do you think about this Firefly for $3,700? Is that a deal? Or, does that price indicate that the light's on but no fly is at home?

You decide!

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Jersey Shore Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to dogisbadob for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your Kinja handle.

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DISCUSSION

I think this is a great time to talk about two factors that contribute to the price of a car: What it is vs What it does. At one end of the spectrum is, say, the DMC Delorean. It languidly jogs from 0 to 60 in over 10 seconds, gently nudged there by a Volvo v6 making about as much horsepower as a modern Miata. But this DOES NOT MATTER because IT'S A FREAKING DELOREAN. Show up in that bad boy ANYWWHERE and you'll turn heads. Slowly, because you're not breaking the speed limit, but still. The DeLorean IS an amazing-looking sports car. What it does is completely unremarkable, but it doesn't matter because it's a DeLorean. At the other end of the spectrum is '04-'06 Pontiac GTO. Most people don't give it a second glance. But by the end of its run, you could get it with a 400hp LS2, late of the Corvette. What it is - an unremarkable-looking Pontiac; 90% of other drivers think it's probably a rental car. What it DOES is pull your eyeballs into the back of your skull when you hit the loud pedal.

All of this is background for this scrappy little Canuck. I LIKE IT. I really do. It's a survivor. The go-fast boy-racer stuff isn't too gaudy, and it looks well-sorted (though a visit to a junkyard and a weekend with a few beers and a Haynes manual might be required to get the interior up to snuff). But here's the problem. This car isn't amazing in the "what it is" or "what it does" department. What it does? It's a 23-year-old cheapo hatch that probably gets (or got) respectable mileage and has a dollop of fun factor. But you could get something with better mileage (diesel Golf!) or more fun (Miata!) for less bank, and with no rips in the seats. What it is? Some people might recognize it as a Geo, many people wouldn't even know what it was. And not in an "oooh, what *IS* that" way, but in an "oh. Some crappy little car" way.

For $1200 or so, this would probably be an entertaining way to get through an autocross. Expect to dump another $1000 into getting that turbo mini-mill in tip-top shape. For what they're asking?

The answer is Miata.