I decided to go in a slightly different route this time as the car in question today is neither a 1-year only special edition nor is it a limited production unicorn. In fact, the Geo Storm can be found relatively easy by CTTF standards. The GSi is by no means common, but with production numbers in the thousands it is not impossible to find one somewhere that the owner is willing to part with. And the best part is, it costs less to buy and run than cars like my Audi cost for service or repairs. Just to add more good news, the storm came in two variants. The "coupe" is shown above (more like a hatchback) and the "hatchback" (more like a wagon) is shown below.
Why was this car forgotten?
Poor branding, my friends. That unfortunate "Geo" badge basically means this car is relegated to the footnotes of obscure car history. And it's not like the Geo vehicles were forgotten in any way shape or form either. The tracker lived on as a chevrolet (and it was originally a suzuki). The prizim was also a chevrolet at one point (and it was basically a toyota). The metro is a cult/semi-famous vehicle nowadays due to its massive MPG numbers and decent practicality as a hatchback. But the storm? The storm was an Isuzu! Let that sink in for a second. All of Geo was rebadged international cars and uniting them under one roof and design language....sort of. But to this day, no one really knows that isuzu is more than just a commercial equipment seller. Even with the vehicross and ascender, Isuzu is just an anomaly in the passenger vehicle world in America. In fact, one of the reasons why the storm had a short life was due to Isuzu not making a replacement. They never had enough sales to justify making a new generation.
Wait why is being a Geo a bad thing? Wouldn't it be better than keeping the isuzu badge?
It's very important to remember that Saturn, GM's own bespoke small-car division, was being formed around this time and the SL and SC were rolling off of assembly lines in the Tennessee plant. That SC is the highlight here. In terms of performance, the SC with the DOHC engine certainly had the chops to at least contend with the storm, which was Geo's "sporty" model. Having spoken with my mom who was working in the tech center in the 90s, Saturn was either the "next big thing" or "the future downfall of GM" depending on who you asked. In this case, the existence of saturn meant the storm had no future. Although sales were decent for the car, when isuzu walked away and left the door open for GM to put a new "storm" in place, the SC filled that niche instead. Why have the cavalier Z24, beretta Z26, Grand AM quad 4, oldsmobile quad 4, Saturn SC, AND another FWD entry level sporty compact coupe? Not even GM was that dumb. In fact, they were cutting back their performance compacts when the storm was being phased out in 1993.
I may disagree in my heart, but I agree in my brain that the right thing to do was to not come up with a replacement for the storm.
Why should I remember this car over the SC then?
Well there are two major reasons why this car deserves better. The first is that the fast and furious crowd hit this car's already limited production stint hard with crap like the following.
The second is the car's prodigious level of swiftness despite being a "lowly" Geo.
In GSi trim, this car put out 140 hp in 1992. It also weighed a touch under 2300 pounds and had a 5-speed manual. This equates to a staggering 7.1 second 0-60 time. That's quick enough to worry Mk 5 GTIs. And as the title picture shows, they have seen a lot of use on the track too. Autocrosses and road races turned out to be a natural stomping ground for these little buggers.
Now let's move past the performance to the cherry on top of all of this. The storm had a production number of around 40,000. Many have been crashed or junked by now, yes. But there are enough floating around that any gearhead with balls of steel and feet of lead can buy and hoon one of these for cheap. Want a nice autocross/track beater? Here you go. Need a sporty yet cheap DD for beater duties? Check. Want some high MPG transport that isn't mainstream and is also vintage-geek? Hop on your fixie and ride over to some seller on craigslist after your free trade coffee. People always say that a miata is the answer to everything. I disagree. I think the storm could fill that role quite nicely.....well.....right up to the powerslide question. But RWD specific antics aside I think this is a cool little car that, at the end of the day, will do everything you ask of it.
For some inspiration, here's an example of what I think is a custom storm done right. It looks 90s, yet still somewhat fresh. I dig it.