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Has the world gone mad for the Geo Metro?

I’m not very proficient at calculus, but I did happen to craft my own theorem the other day:

As the upper limit of gas prices increases, personal insanity approaches infinity.

Unlike any of my limit problems in high school, I was actually able to prove this one this morning:; A 1993 Geo Metro sold for $7200.

One look at the trim (XFi) and the powertrain (1.0-liter I-3 and a five-speed manual) shouts why this car sold for such a high price: fuel economy.; The 49-hp hatchback, devoid of virtually every luxury imaginable, was able to return close to 58 mpg on the highway.

That figure seems to be increasingly attractive at a time when gas has surpassed the $4.00-per-gallon mark.; Recent eBay auctions for similar cars have yielded transaction prices over $5000 – and easily 20 to 30 bidders fighting for the lithe hatchback.

But does 58 mpg really warrant $7200?; For a Metro?

That sale price is over the XFi’s BlueBook value.; Way over; as in seven times over.; Popping over to Kelley Blue Book’s website, we see the expected retail price of a used ’93 Metro XFi – with 22,000 miles and no options, like this example – is $1100.; Mind you, that’s for a Metro in mint condition.; This car had some bubbling in a rear fender, meaning it’s in “good” condition.; We should be looking at $950, max.

Besides, XFi Metros never sold for $7200, even when they were brand spankin’ new.; Some diligent digging in the Automobile archives produced the base price of a ’93 XFi hatchback.; That sum?; A whopping $6795; tax, title, and exorbitant options (like a passenger-side mirror) not included.; Granted, inflation puts that price closer to $10,000 in today’s currency, but should a base Metro depreciate by only 2 grand over 15 years?

And did I mention it’s a Metro?; Although devoid of the stigma carried by the infamous Zastava (known and despised on these shores as the plagued Yugo), Metros weren’t anything special, unless basic, stripped-down subcompact hatchbacks regularly frequent your fantasies.; They weren’t devoid of problems, either; for example, the three-cylinder mills were prone to compression problems unless the EGR system was religiously cleaned.

I’m not criticizing the idea of downsizing a daily driver in order to save money.; However, there are better options.; There are plenty of clean 1996-2000 Civics – capable of highway mileage in the mid- to high-’30s – trading hands for similar prices.; Want to go new?; For less than double the money, you could step into a Toyota Yaris.; With a five-speed manual, that’s capable of 29 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway.

Granted, you’re not getting the 58 mpg promised by the Metro, but either gives you a car that can safely and comfortably carry four people – and still manage to get out of its own way when merging onto freeways.

Lest you think I’ve concluded human kind is carrying itself to hell in a hand basket, fear not.; I’m saving that reservation for when I see a Chevette Scooter fetch upwards of $4000 at Russo & Steele.

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