My Pontiac Firefly / Chevrolet Metro / Geo Metro / Suzuki Swift welcomes fuel efficiency nerds everywhere

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Latest fuel economy stats
for my '98 Firefly 1.0L 5-speed
  best: 2.3 125.1 104.2
 worst: 6.4  44.1  36.8
prev.3: 3.3  82.3  68.6
   all: 3.8  73.4  61.1
L/100km | mpg IMP | mpg US
Jul 28/07: more, graph, calc.
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Best non-hybrid MPG: Mitsubishi Mirage
Highest MPG for a new car: Mitsubishi Mirage?
Mitsubishi's 1.2L, 3-cylinder Mirage is the first new non-hybrid car that can match an old Metro's mileage. The company says 44 mpg (US) highway, 37 city. (Some drivers are already beating that in various economy driving contests.) How? An efficient engine, very light weight and aerodynamic design.

Cheapest to own? 2015 Nissan Micra Forum
2015 Nissan Micra Forum
The Micra's fuel economy isn't its most notable feature -- the $10,000 price is. That makes it one of the cheapest cars to own. And its 109hp, 1.6L engine and good power-to-weight ratio means it's fun to drive too.

Latest 10 posts:
1. Recipe for getting 99.7 mpg from a Geo Metro
2. - famous aerodynamic Honda Civic gets a web site
3. Snapshot: effect of tire pressure on rolling resistance
4. 65+ vehicle modifications for better MPG
5. Metro mania: forget stocks, put your money in old Geos!
6. 100+ Hypermiling / ecodriving tips for better gas mileage
7. Experiment: how long should a block heater be plugged in?
8. Everything old is new again: Car and Driver magazine modifies an econobox to improve MPG
9. Project Convertible XFi: alfresco efficiency
10. The floor is yours: MetroMPG opens a fuel efficiency forum
11 ... 64. Show all posts

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Good MPG forums: I spend a lot of time at and have also been known to lurk around

Chevrolet Aveo forum - discussion of the Chevrolet Aveo and its siblings (Pontiac Wave, Pontiac G3, Suzuki Swift+, Daewoo Kalos).

> Lots more Metro links...
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Send me a note:
darin AT metrompg D-O-T com,
or here

MetroMPG has opened a fuel economy forum
Read about the project here, or go straight to
ScanGauge fuel economy computer Save fuel with a ScanGauge II fuel economy computer.
I personally recommend this tool. I've owned both versions (I and II) and can't say enough good things about it. If you're serious about saving fuel, get one.

For more information and to order, visit EcoModder.

Metro mania: forget stocks, put your money in old Geos!

Posted Sunday, August 24/08 in Suzukiclone info

for sale sign

(...Updated Sept 26/08...) My very first car was a behemoth: a 1964 Pontiac Catalina with a massively thirsty 389 cubic inch engine. When I bought it to restore, there was a little notebook in the glove box the previous owner had used to track his fuel economy. I remember the row of exclamation marks beside his best ever fill of 19 mpg (US). Unfortunately, 14 or 15 mpg was the norm.

The big Cat is long gone, and I've come full circle back to Pontiac via the Firefly. But the badge on the hood is about the only thing the Flea has in common with the monster Catalina. Its little 3 cylinder engine doesn't have even 1/6th the displacement of the 389 V8!

Apparently I'm not the only one who has downsized into a thrifty car lately. With $4 gasoline in the US this summer, people were/are abandoning their guzzlers... and apparently their common sense by paying startlingly high prices for some 1 litre action.

From punch line to popularity

Flanders' Metro
The Flanders family Metro: rolling punch line typical of popular references to the car

Something unexpected happened with the record run up in the cost of gas: the media spotlight briefly swung back to the Metro. Before that, the only media references you were likely to find about the car were automotive punch lines. But you can now find stories about how demand for efficient small cars - and the Geo in particular - has been driving up prices to astronomical levels.

A number of news reports and eBay auctions reveal the Metro mania:

  • The Geo Metro Rides Again, Sort Of
    Drivers desperate for high gas mileage are snapping up the poky, discontinued Geo Metro because it offers around 44 mpg

    "The high price of gas has sparked a fad for the fuel-sipping Geo Metro, a tiny, rebadged Suzuki hatchback Chevrolet dealers sold from the late 1980s to 1998." - Business Week
  • Nerdy, fuel-stingy cars are hot wheels

    "Some of the nerdiest-looking cars in recent automotive history are making a comeback, at least in resale value, as a growing number of value-driven drivers put gas thriftiness ahead of image.

    Early-1990s econoboxes such as Ford Festiva, Hyundai Excel and Geo Metro once the punch line of jokes have seen their used car prices climb from giveaway levels as low as $1,100 a few months ago to upward of $6,000 today, Kelley Blue Book says." - USA Today

  • Ten ways to get better gas mileage

    "10) Want the most fuel efficient car out there? How about a Geo Metro? This long-ridiculed wonder from the 1990s has sprung into demand as a result of its 50 mpg efficiency. Buy one, or something like it, and drive it with pride -- perhaps while wearing a large hat and big sunglasses." - CNN
  • Car Respect--Geo Metro

    "The Metro, in its own way, was as superlative as any Porsche, as extreme a performer in its sphere as any Ferrari. Its forte? Providing maximum fuel economy and usefulness for the minimum price. Within that context, the Metro was the ne plus ultra." - Car Lust (Amazon blogs)
  • Nerd Alert! Geo Metro: the new "it" car?
    "With gas prices at an all-time high, the efficiency of vehicles like the Metro, Ford Fiesta and Apsire and Hyundai Excel is raising their prices to levels sometimes above what they cost new." - AutoblogGreen
  • Gas prices drive Geos from clunkers to chic

    "Brenton Netz has made a side business out of fixing up Geo Metros and selling them locally and on eBay. Netz says consumers don't seem to mind paying more than the retail value, and if they do, they generally stop feeling that way after they pick up the cars. He's gotten phone calls and e-mails from customers saying how thrilled they are with the mileage. CNN

That last CNN piece is notable for two reasons: first, because Brenton is an occasional reader. He e-mailed me way back when to tell me how pumped (excuse the pun) he was when he first discovered the great mileage he could get from an old Metro XFi. I heard from him last September after he'd been bitten by the bug: he'd already bought and sold ten (!) XFi's.

What will people pay?

eBay Metros
Two Metro eBay results: $7200 low mileage 1993 XFi, top, and $7300 1996 Metro, bottom.

But the mind-blowing bit in the CNN story was the price it reported someone had paid for a garden variety 1996 Metro: $7,300! (No, that's not a typo.)

And lest you think that's an aberration, AutoblogGreen alerted us of another $7k Suzukiclone, this one a '93 XFi model: Autoblog: Geo Metros going for big money on high gas prices

Holy Toledo, maybe it's time to sell!

I have to admit I've been wondering what I could get for mine if I put it on the auction block... "1998 Pontiac Firefly, 16,000 original km (10k miles), $8500 firm"?

No, no, no. I'm not really considering selling.

Seriously, I remember how difficult it was to get my hands on one of these cars when I originally decided to take the 1L plunge. Even before gas prices went up, decent examples of these cars were being snapped up left & right.

The $17,475 Metro

Here are some even more exciting figures: EcoModder member Johnny Mullet invested $829.50 plus his tinker time in a 1998 1L Metro 5-speed. He got it so he could quit driving his Chevy 1500 pickup truck that was getting around 15 mpg (US).

Johnny did the math, and it's impressive. His Geo is now saving him $3,495 a year in fuel costs alone, or $17,475 if he keeps it for five more years.

Of course regardless of the potential savings, only a crazy person would actually pay $7k for a clapped out Metro. But it's clear to see why there's been a rush on them.

Update - Sept. 27/08 ...

Coming late to the party, Car and Driver magazine weighs in, warning the unsuspecting public away from buying used economy cars to save fuel.

They cite performance, reliability, safety, emissions and unpredictable maintenance costs as reasons. And with their tongue planted in their advertiser-supported cheek, they suggest we all go buy brand new Hummer H2's to save the planet.

You can read the C&D piece here, and here's the reaction to it at EcoModder.

Resources ...

EcoModder fuel economy forum Note: MetroMPG has opened a fuel economy forum
Read about the project here, or go straight to

darin AT metrompg D-O-T com, or here