The Guy Who Owned Two Geo Metros

By Jeffery Bellant June 03, 2021 141
The simple Geo Metro was GM’s last attempt to create a car with excellent gas mileage without using any technology. The simple Geo Metro was GM’s last attempt to create a car with excellent gas mileage without using any technology.

Twenty-eight years ago, it happened. I bought the only new car I’ve ever purchased. 

Up until then, I had always owned beaters. My first car as a teen was a 1971 Plymouth Duster. It had a non-working radio and bench seat that needed a piece of wood to prop it up to a sitting position. The lady wanted $200 for it but my brother negotiated it down to $150.

It had a Slant Six, which I was told would “run forever.”

It didn’t.

Anyway, I went through a  string of used cars until I went off to college at 22. When I graduated four years later, I was driving an old Pontiac T-1000 (like “The Terminator”).  I received it as payment for watching my friend’s house one summer while the family was overseas.

That vehicle died a few months after college. I had just been hired for an eight-week temp job and I had to bounce between catching a ride or taking the bus.

No offense to public transportation, but a three-hour bus ride for a 30-minute commute got old quick.

Then one day my mother said, “I found you a car.”

What she found was the most audacious loss leader in the history of Chevrolet franchises.

The car was a brand-new, shiny red 1993 Geo Metro and it was loaded…with nothing.

The only options listed on the five-speed hatchback were floor mats and a rear defroster. Remember the non-working radio on the Duster? Well, this had NO STEREO AT ALL!

I’m stunned that a franchise dealership actually had a new car in 1993 with no stereo!

They even shorted it a cylinder –  it was a 3-banger. I didn’t even know they made those.

I’m convinced this car was part of some wager the dealer made with Chevrolet to get a big bonus.

But did I mention I was a recent college grad with no money, a temp job and relying on public transportation?

The salesman was so giddy, he couldn’t write this up fast enough. I think the total sales price was just over $5,700 and the monthly payments were $119, with no co-signer. My only down payment was the $600 cash bonus they gave to recent college grads. 

I’m not even sure that’s legal, but I drove away. I went to Best Buy to get a stereo, which took more time to pay off than the car.

Go ahead and laugh, but I LOVED that car.

When they say a car ran on fumes, they were talking about this car.

My first newspaper job was an hour and ten minutes from home. I could leave work with the fuel gage buried in the red and that car would make it home easy.

And people did laugh. I once had to get one of the 13-inch tires repaired and the tire shop was packed. When the service tech was done, he stuck his head in the crowded lobby and yelled, “Who has the roller skate?”

“That’s me,” I mumbled.

Anyway, that 3-banger started to fade near 150,000 miles and I needed another car. It would still be running today if I had changed the oil occasionally. (Who knew?)

I was hoping just to get $500 to part with it when my pastor told me about an ex-con biker at the church who needed a car. When I say biker, I mean he named his son “Harley.”

The guy was just out of jail so I took $200.

But I made an amateur move. He said he couldn’t title the car that day, so if I signed it over, he promised he would title it the next day.

Yeah, I know. Dumb. Hey, I majored in journalism and English. I’m lucky I can tie my own shoes.

So, eight or nine months later I get a call from the police impound yard saying my Geo Metro had been towed. I explained to the dispatcher that  I sold the car and no longer owned it. The dispatcher said OK and hung up.

If only I would have asked why they called me when someone else was on the title, the lady could have said, “Because the ex-con biker that your pastor vouched for never titled the car, dummy!”

Years later, when my wife and I applied for a mortgage, it popped up in the credit report. The tow yard sent it to collections.

I tried to contact the collections agency multiple times, but they never returned my call. You know you’re in the Upside-Down world when the collections agency doesn’t take your call.

But I wasn’t done with Geo.

A few years later, my poor mom with COPD and an oxygen tank walked back into the same franchise dealership looking for a used car. (Mom, use an independent dealer!)

The old salesman was gone so the new guy hooked her up with a used 1995 purple Geo Metro. On the plus side, it was an automatic, had four cylinders –not three – and a radio.

However, it had no A/C. The dude sold a tiny purple car with no A/C to a women with an oxygen tank.

If Dante had a Ninth Circle for car salesman, this guy would be going there. 

After a few years, she passed it to me.

Honestly, it just wasn’t the same. No stick shift and it didn’t get close to the 50 mpg that the red Metro got. It was a letdown.

Eventually, that baby ended up scrapped and I was a Metro owner no more.

I was remembering all this recently as I had to put $3.19-per- gallon gas into my sedan that has twice as many cylinders but half the charm as the ’93 Metro.

It’s days like this I miss the roller skate, with its optional floor mats and supernatural gas mileage.

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Last modified on Thursday, 03 June 2021 18:11