Two pack of 1990 Geo Prizms – Good Thing They’re Automatics

You may have read my lament on regarding the fact that whenever I see a car I may be interested in on ebay or the like – it ends up being an automatic?  My conclusion at the time was that was a good thing.  See, I don’t have the garage space or the finances to be going out and buying every weird hatchback I see, so the 10% or so take rate on manual transmissions in this country saves me quite frequently.

Such is the case today when I found not one, but two 1990 Geo Prizm hatchbacks in very good condition.

Now why would I care about a couple of 20+ year old econo-boxes?  Well, I used to own one, ya know?  And it was a truly great little car – and perhaps most of all, full of good memories.

But these two – they’re both slushboxes.  And a truly horrible 3-speed at that.  The Prizm with a stick shift was a snappy if not quick performer that got very good gas mileage.  Swap out the sweet-shifting manual for the 3-speed and it pretty much kills the car.

Good thing.

What I really want, after seeing a shiny black one at the local Chevy dealership way back in high school, was the Prizm GSi.  At the time, I thought it was way cooler than the Corvette they had in the showroom.  Just gives you a little window into my psyche, no?  In any case, it was black over gray, hatchback, stick shift and awesome.  But I was 15 and still 2 years from purchasing a car – of course I had no idea at the time that I’d end up with a lesser Prizm.

Now, if I ever saw a GSi version of a hatchback Prizm in good shape for a decent price, I would probably have to make up for missing out on that black one and snatch it up.  That’s what I was looking for yesterday when I found these two non-GSi for sale.  1990 models, so they were built before GM decontented the interior, removing the nice velour upholstery and remote adjustable mirrors.

They’re both the base version, equipped with a sweet little 1.6 liter 4 cylinder.  A truly pleasant and stone-cold reliable engine, they were developed before the days of variable valve timing and other fancy doo-dads and put out a paltry (for modern times) 102 horses.  But in the featherweight Prizm, it was enough to keep up with traffic while still maintaining a high level of fuel efficiency.

But again, that stupid automatic.

3 speeds.

Not a chance…

Butthe red example only has 36,800 miles on it – almost exactly what my Prizm had on it when I purchased it back in 1992!  And in very nice shape – except for one dent in the front fender, this car is pristine.  Even the wheel covers are look good – no curb rash and no loss of the silvery finish.

Sigh – so close, yet so far.  And the $4999 asking price was a bit rich, even for this little trip down memory lane.

More searching.

Another base model with the nice interior.  This one is even the same color combination as mine.  Light Chestnut Metallic over beige.  Same power locks/manual window combination as mine.  Only 94,000 miles – barely broken in.

Wrong stinkin’ transmission.

Looking through these pictures, I can remember the fact that I’d have to manually return the driver’s door handle back because of a broken spring.  I can see the vinyl trim in the Chestnut car separating from the door panel ever so slightly – I’d take a plastic spackle knife and shove it back in every year or so.  Pleasant memories, but in the long run, I’m waiting for that GSi.

If I do ever find it, I just might accept an auto…


4 responses to “Two pack of 1990 Geo Prizms – Good Thing They’re Automatics”

  1. Lee Leighton says :

    Hi from Lee in Portland. My wife has finally decided to buy a new car (2013 Prius C) and so we are selling her 1990 Geo Prizm hatchback (sorry, not LSI). It is light blue with light blue velour upholstery in near-perfect condition (including 60-40 folding rear seats), and a 5-speed manual transmission. It has been her daily driver since she bought it new in 1990. Mileage is just over 120,000. We live in Portland, Oregon, where winter involves rain but not salted roads, and it has never been in so much as a fender-bender, so the body is in excellent condition with a bit of paint wear on the top. I can provide photos and will gladly host a local inspection. We would be glad to sell the car at a fair price to someone who will appreciate it and treat it right.

    • Hatchtopia says :

      Hey Lee – I’m not in the market currently, but I’d love to help you sell your car. If you’d like, send me a link to your online ad (if you have one) or some pix and I will feature your car here. Good luck!

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