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Home Car Culture Commentary What’s the world come to when a Geo Metro is on collector...

What’s the world come to when a Geo Metro is on collector car docket?

My drive in a small convertible was breathtaking, as in holding my breath for 86 fearful miles -- and then having to do it again

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You cannot image quite how shocked I was this past weekend to be fingering my way through Facebook and to come upon a posting from RM Sotheby’s. 

“RM Sotheby’s is thrilled to present Handle With Fun, the most fun and whimsical auction to come to our Online Only sale platform yet,” the posting began. 

“Offered largely without reserve, this time-based auction will feature a diverse collection or rare and vintage collectibles and memorabilia spanning the spectrum of the market from toys and coin-operated equipment to vintage signs, gas station ephemera, as well as a curated selection of delightfully quirky cars.

“Kicking off the spring season, Handle with Fun is set to begin 5 May with lots closing in a staggered format beginning at 10:00 a.m. EDT on 12 May and continuing the following day, 13 May.”

So far, so good.

But then I saw the photo that followed the text. The photo to illustrate this Handle With Fun event showed a 1992 Geo Metro convertible. To me, Handle With Fun became Handle With Fear.

Of the hundreds — wait, of the thousands of vehicles — I’ve driven in my decades writing about cars, the 1990s Geo Metro was the most frightening, which is a nice way of saying it was memorable because it was horrible.  

I had an 86-mile each way commute from home to the AutoWeek office, and I prayed throughout that 192-mile roundtrip that I wouldn’t collide with a motorcycle, let alone anything else I might encounter on the road.

According to the Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, the Geo (nee Suzuki) Metro needed nearly 14 seconds to reach 60 mph and could reach the end of a quarter-mile drag strip in a shade under 20 seconds.  

Driving the Geo Metro convertible felt like driving a cardboard box, and a flimsy box at that, with a 3-cylinder, 55-horsepower engine struggling to keep up as you struggled to stay out of the way of vehicles with as few as 2 or as many as 18 wheels, all of which seems fully capable of crushing you and this “car” like a bug. 

And I don’t mean a Volkswagen Bug. Compared to the Geo Metro, a VW Beetle was a cross between an Army tank and a luxury limousine.

Have you ever tried holding your breath for 86 miles? That’s pretty much how I drove the Geo Metro from office to home and then back again the next morning. 

Alarmed that a prestigious auction house such as RM Sotheby’s might ever consider the Geo Metro to be a collector car worthy of anyone’s bid, I clicked over to the Handle With Fun website and discovered to my dismay that, indeed, such a vehicle is auction Lot 2171

According to the online catalog, this car has been owned by the same Southern California resident since new and has been driven less than 39,500 miles (personally, I cannot imagine putting my life on the line for that many miles).  

RM Sotheby’s says it is “a surprisingly well-preserved example of a ‘disposable’ car, and is a “cheerful bright blue over light gray cloth interior.

With a lot of tongue-in-cheek from the auction house editorial team, the catalog reports that the Geo Metro “brings hysterical laughter to other motorists on the road” and is “the perfect car to impress on a first date.”

The catalog calls the Geo Metro a “potential Concours d’Lemons Best in Show Winner.”

And yet, RM Sotheby’s actually expects someone to pay between $10,000 and $15,000 for the vehicle. 

Wondering about those numbers, I checked the Hagerty Value Guide where, much to my not being at all surprised, not only is the Geo Metro convertible not listed there, but neither are any other Geo-branded vehicles.

Nonetheless, in the current marketplace, where pandemic-induced pent-up demand is producing a bidding frenzy, I fully expect the Geo Metro to sell for north of $30K.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

5 COMMENTS

  1. After looking for over six months for a reasonably priced Porsche roadster, then learning about their intermediate shaft bearing occasionally and catastrophically destroying a complete engine, then having to pay $15 K for a replacement crate engine, not including installation, I decided just for fun to buy a 93 (CHEVY branded) Geo LSI convertible I saw on the Internet. I can understand why you Larry had a bad experience driving your 92 Geo to and from work; however, I put in an brace from “shock tower” to “shock tower” in the front, and the handling became 180° different, now a delightful drive! Ron (“in Utah”)

    • Pity Suzuki/GM didn’t spend the extra few dollars for such an upgrade in the first place. Glad you’re enjoying your vehicle.

  2. There was a Chev. Dealership in Sonoma CA (Bob Noble) that thought that the Geo was so poorly made he would not sell them.

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