• May 16th 2008 at 1:58PM
  • 97
We got a tip yesterday that Geo Metros were being auctioned on eBay Motors for prices above what the tiny cars cost new. This auction for a 1993 Geo Metro XFI with just 22,501 miles ended yesterday with a winning bid of $7,200! Why has the resale value of the Metro and other tiny econocrap cars gone through the roof? The simple answer: gas prices. Vehicles like the Metro, the Suzuki Swift on which it's based, Ford Aspire and Festiva, and Hyundai Excel were around before federal safety regulations and public pressure demanded that every car survive an impact from any angle with five stars. That kind of safety adds weight, and modern econocars are therefore much heavier and therefore less fuel efficient than they were in the early '90s.

The aforementioned Metro XFI is powered by an anemic 1.0L three-cylinder engine producing just 49 hp, but it returns between 55 and 60 mpg. Cars like this defined the phrase 'fuel-sipping' and made passing on the highway a strategic maneuver involving lots of planning. But the XFI is now apparently the holy grail for used car shoppers willing to sacrifice modern amenities and a bit of safety to save a buck on fuel. The trick is finding an example with low miles that hasn't rusted to pieces or been abused by an angry teenager who wanted a Mustang instead. If you do find one, you'll have what automakers are now just unable to offer: a cheap small car that doesn't use expensive technology to achieve incredible fuel economy. But you better willing to pay for it. Thanks for the tip, Lynn!

[Source: eBay Motors, U.S. News]


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  • 97 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I just wish the manufactures would go back to producing vehicles like this. They don't realize that some people prefer basic transportation that offers all around economy (good fuel economy, low repair expense, cheap parts, small wheels/tires, etc). People poke fun at my daily driver Civic hatchback. Sure, it's loud, ugly, full of rattles, and has a lot of wind noise but it was cheap to buy, it's fun to drive, the insurance is cheap, it gets 40mpg and the tires cost 28 dollars! Listen up automakers; Long live the poverty-spec car! Now... if only we could get the NHTSA to focus on teaching people to drive instead of mandating all the overbearing nanny safety features (tire pressure monitors, stability control, etc), we would be well on our way to driving economical cars again.
        • 7 Years Ago
        One of the best posts I have seen on this blog.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Word! I couldn't agree more.
        • 7 Years Ago
        These are the kinds of posts autoblog deserves, not the people below bitching about the car being slow.

        There's all kinds of cars for all kinds of people. Not everyone is going out to carve up a canyon. Some people just need to roll up the miles cheaply, and there are cars that do a great job of it.
        • 7 Years Ago
        A couple of years ago, when gas first approached $2.00 a gallon, I traded a V6 '99 Dodge Ram 1500 2wd 5 speed that got 22 mpg highway on a slightly used 3 banger '99 Metro with only 68,030 miles on it. From talking to the original owner- she traded it on a new Focus- approximately 50,000 of those 68,030 miles were from being towed behind a motor home.

        People thought I was nuts for paying $3400 for that car (ended up being less after figuring the trade and payoff on my Dodge, but I don't recall the figures right now).

        Smartest move I've ever made.

        I drive this little Metro nearly 120 miles round trip to and from work every day, and it will turn 180,000 miles in about a week.

        I've replaced the timing belt, brakes, battery and other maintenance-type stuff; I've put two sets of tires on it since I've had it (got about 50k out of each set, at $19.95 each!), and the ONLY time it wouldn't start for me was the time the original battery finally crapped out- in June of '05.

        I've been hit in it twice, too- once, a woman merged into my passenger side from an on-ramp at 60 mph- put a slight wrinkle in the right hand door; broke off the mirror and bent the right front wheel rim. That's all the damage.

        The other time I got hit was in stop-and-go traffic on I-10. There was a wreck well up ahead, and traffic was just inching along- 5 mph then stop, repeat, repeat, repeat. The guy in the Chevy Avalanche behind me wasn't paying attention- on his cell phone- and tapped me- obviously not hard, at that speed. I got out and looked- couple scuffs on the plastic rear bumper of the Metro. The Avalanche, however, had a totally crumpled front bumper, a smashed grille, and a broken headlamp assembly- his bumper pushed up into it. Needless to say, he was sputtering and cussing he was so PO'd. All I said was "sucks to be you, doesn't it?"

        The AC is adequate, even for North Florida summers (I need to get it repaired soon; it's given up the ghost now); the heater will run you out of there within about 3 miles when the temperature is in the 20's; it will happily haul three dalmatians or an amazing amount of other stuff with the back seat folded down, and it STILL- at nearly 180,000 miles- gets between 44 and 47 mpg while running a steady 70 mph on the interstate.

        Yeah, it takes it a while to get up to speed- and overpasses and tall bridges tend to slow it down. It's also pretty sensitive to buffeting from passing semis, or to crosswinds- rather like driving an old VW Beetle, actually. It has about the same horsepower- 55- as my old 71 Beetle did, and really does drive about the same- it takes a special technique, and you have to assume- like when you're on a motorcycle- that other drivers not only don't respect you, they likely don't even SEE you.

        There are a few features it doesn't have that would be nice- trip odometer, delay wipers, rear defrost and a remote hatch release, to name a few- but I'd damn sure buy another one, exactly as my 99 sits, were it still on the market.

        I love this car.

        I'll probably be the first lunatic in the world to do a complete, ground-up restoration on a 3 banger Metro, when the time comes (though parts are hard to find and expensive when you do find them).
      • 7 Years Ago
      man i rather get a ford fiesta than this
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow awesome. I am going today to pick up a CRX HF that the person is selling for 700 because he has no idea what he has. It runs great but it has no title. I already got the go ahead from the DMV to fill out a form and pay 100 and they'll give me a new title. I hope its good. it looks good in the pictures.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Change the timing belt ASAP on that CRX.

        If it breaks the engine basically is junk.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Exactly right, $7200 would buy plenty of fuel.

      Still, it's interesting what government crash regulations and American size demands have wrought. That's the real reason fuel economy hasn't climbed significantly.

      Government safety mandates are responsible for the majority of weight gain in all vehicles. We also demand larger vehicles now than we did in the 1990s and the result is a bloated, overweight fleet of vehicles on our roads.

      It will be interesting (and sad) to see what CAFE does to cars in the next few years.

      If fuel economy is a top priority the smartest choice is the smallest, lightest car your money can buy. Not the new one loaded with heavy batteries and electronics.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I am looking forward to the effect of CAFE.

        Don't forget that many great sportscar options existed in the 80's. The RX7 and MR2 are two great examples. Great mileage, and many are still being run hard in the SCCA today.
      • 7 Years Ago
      7200 is way too much for this. For less than that you can buy a lot of other cars that may get few MPG's but are more practical. A well maintained mid 90's Civic hatch or Tercel can be found for less than 3000.
      • 7 Years Ago
      '01-'03 CNG/gas Chevy Cavaliers have been going for $12,000+ at GSA sales. They are base cars, some with power windows and locks, and miles in the 10's and 20's. That's because CNG is $.60 a gallon in Utah. Keep in mind they are being bought by dealers, who then ship them from the East coast, and resell them for even more $ to their customers. The same car was going for half that 2 years ago.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Been thinking of doing a CNG conversion on one of the cars I own. If you've got gas heat, you can fill up at home! Just don't tell the IRS...
      • 7 Years Ago
      WHAT BLOG AM I READING?!?!

      GrannyAutoBlog.com?

      I mean please people. We all have a love for cars, otheriwse you wouldn't be here.

      I know I am totally willing to spend my money on a nicer car that gets less mileage. Other peeps might spend money on shoes or books or w/e, but I choose car.

      Do what you love! Don't commute in a POS car if you love cars to save a few bucks, that is just dumb!
        • 7 Years Ago
        When you truly love cars you love all cars. Some are good for going fast, some are good at being expensive, some are good for cruising and some are good at being highly efficient. They're all special in their own way.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "but you better be willing to pay for it"....

      with your life.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's called panic. People see $4 per gallon for gas and they do irrational things.

      Instead of buying these garbage boxes at high prices, they should consider moving closer to work. That move not only saves you money but also reduces traffic for everyone else, reduces the damage to the roadways done by your car making that 50 mile a day commute, and reduces the need to replace tires, brakes, oil, etc. You also get to enjoy more of your life doing what you want instead of sitting in traffic for an extra 2 hours every day. Plus you'd get to drive a better car every day.

      I know far too many people who want "land". They don't do anything with it but they don't want to live near their neighbors. That or they just want that 4,000 sqft house instead of the 2,500 sqft one that is more than satisfactory for their family of 4.

      So they spend hours per day commuting to work, increasing traffic, using up fuel so they can heat and cool a bigger house and spend $10 a week in fuel to maintain their "land".
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have driven two different three-cylinder cars, one of which was a diesel-fired smart fortwo. The more powerful triple in my past was a 5-door Geo Metro which is rated at 41mpg now but at the time was considered a 47mpg car.

      Every time a Toyota Prius passes me on the highway making faster progress than my admittedly lofty pace, I get angry. Then I remember that what was once great mileage became approximately 4.62L/100 km at 120km/h or 5.1 L/100km at 130km/h, making it about as efficient as a '95 Geo Metro.
      • 7 Years Ago
      For those who think safety is no big deal:

      NHTSA NCAP score 1993 Metro:

      Driver: 3 Star - SAFETY CONCERN High Likelihood of Thigh Injury

      Better get your prosthetic leg ordered ahead of time if you want to drive a car like this.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Smart just turned a 3 star for passenger safety. And it gets a lot worse mpg. And costs more.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have a 92 Festiva that I brought for $4995 in 96. In 12 years I have replace the catalytic converter bvecause it was rattling. It was still passing inspections. Replaced the emergency brake cable due to salty Ohio winters, replaced the left rear wheel bearing, and recently the engine/ac cooling fan. That's all in 12 years. It consistently gets 33-34 mpg city. As far as crashes, when did we become a nation of wooses. It's called defensive driving people.
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