The Geo brand represents a curious time in how Chevy dealt with its captive imports. Geo was introduced in the US in 1989; the Canadian Geo’s followed in 1992. Although Chevy was no stranger to rebadging Asian cars as their own, my own impression was that GM sought to raise the profile of these cars in fear they were getting lost on Chevy dealer lots. Another possibility for the Geo brand was that Saturn, GM’s in-house effort to compete against the Japanese, was taking far longer than expected to bring a car to production.
1989-1997 Geo Metro
Built to be fuel-efficient mileage champs and not much else, the Metro was a Suzuki built car offered in two and four door hatchbacks, a four door sedan, and the convertible you see here. The Metro convertible was advertised as the cheapest ragtop you could buy at the time. The Metro left with Geo in 1997 in an era when the SUV was king, and a subcompact was laughed at. In an incredible twist of fate, as we faced $4+ per gallon gas prices, Geo Metro’s resale values increased.
1990-1993 Geo Storm
The sporty Geo. Based on the Isuzu Impulse, the Storm was a de-contented version, without the turbo, without the Lotus-tuned suspension. Still, buyers flocked to the showrooms, and the Storm easily outsold the Impulse. Offered as a two-door hatchback, the Storm was also available in ’91-’92 as a two-door wagon. The base car came with a 95hp 4-cylinder, while the upmarket GSi came with a 130-140hp engine. A ’93 GSi could do 0-60 in 7.1 seconds. Top speed was 125mph. GSi models also featured fog lights, spoilers, a rear sway bar, and a transmission geared for better acceleration.Ã‚Â
Despite strong sales of the Storm, Isuzu was dissatisfied with how their Impulse was selling, and in 1993 decided to discontinue the Impulse to focus on trucks and SUV’s. Without the donor Impulse, the Storm died along with it.
1989-1997 Geo Prizm
If Geo had a crown jewel in its line-up, this was it. Built by NUMMI (the GM-Toyota manufacturing venture in California), The Prizm was nothing more than a rebadged Corolla for all intents and purposes. The Geo Prizm stands as one the best used car steals out there, as their values are substantially lower than that of the Toyota Corolla. The Prizm was an interesting offering at Geo, as this car competed directly with Chevy’s own ancient Cavalier, which it shared showroom space with.
1989-1997 Geo Tracker
In 1989, the first Geo Tracker’s came from Suzuki in Japan; from 1990 Trackers were built in Ontario. The Tracker was offered in two and four-wheel drive, with a choice of a two-door hardtop or convertible. A four-door version followed in 1996. The Tracker’s tend to get dismissed easily for their “cute-ute” appearance. The reality is the Tracker was built on a truck chassis and mechanicals, so it is actually a competent performer off-road.Ã‚Â
Geo and Suzuki should be credited for creating the cute-ute genre. Honda and Toyota soon joined the cute-ute fray, but with car-based platforms. The Tracker can stand proud for having the off-road abilities that would leave its competition in the dust.
After 1997, GM killed off Geo. Chevy continued to sell the Prizm until 2002, and the Tracker until 2004. Geo never had its own dealer network; they were simply cars sold right alongside Chevy’s. Apart from the “Get to know Geo” ad campaign, GM made no serious attempt to advertise the brand. Geo stands apart from the forgotten marques in that some of the cars lived on here in spite of the death of the brand. That being the case, it is fair to question why GM created a separate brand in the first place.