Yesterday's car of the future: The return of the Geo Metro

I remember getting really excited when Geo first started producing cars in 1989. Quite apart from the fact that Geo was one of the first new lines that General Motors had put out in years, there was something about the cars themselves. They were reasonably well constructed, had cute styling, and got great mileage.

My Uncle Merle got one for my cousin Meghan, and I remember not being able to stop staring at it. Unfortunately, my father had some (justifiable) concerns about my driving skills and wanted me in a car with lots of heavy metal. He slammed the door on Meghan's car, tapped the fender, and declared it "tinny." I know that that was the death knell, and that I wouldn't be driving a hot little Geo any time soon.

(On the bright side, I ended up getting a 1983 Cadillac Seville from a police auction. I liked the classic styling and the fact that I could put fifteen friends in the car, while my father liked the fact that it weighed a ton and was built like a panzer. I put in a sweet sound system and rode the thing into the ground. In fact, it was the first car that I didn't total).
In 1997, Geo folded, and its models were combined with those of other GM lines. The last Geo survivor, the Tracker, was discontinued in 2004. Recently, however, the Geo has been gaining increasing relevance. You see, the flagship car of the line, the Metro, gets incredible mileage. While this wasn't terrifically important in 1990, when gas was fairly cheap, it's become very important over the last few months. In fact, a 1996 Metro gets 40 miles to the gallon, which is almost the same mileage as the Toyota Prius. Moreover, while Priuses (Prii? Priapuses?) cost $21,000 apiece, used and reconditioned Metros are going for under $7,500 on eBay.

Oddly enough, there's been sort of a run on Metros, and some people are even beginning to indulge in Metro speculation, picking the Geos up at used-car lots, cleaning them up, and reselling them for a massive increase. Having witnessed the unlamented death of the line over a decade ago, it's hard for me to believe that Geo has become such a hot ticket, but it also gives me a little smile. I love the idea of a new generation getting thrilled about the economy car of my youth!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He's still waiting for the 1983 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce to make a comeback!
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