Yes, There Once Was a “Cool Geo”, The Prizm GSi

When I think back through the thirty or so cars that I have owned over the years, my black ’90 ’91 Geo Prizm GSi hatchback is “the one that got away”.

1990 Geo Prizm GSi Hatchback - black
My Geo Prizm GSi hatchback. Never realized how big that rear bumper was until just now.

The Geo Prizm GSi.

To most people, the Prizm was simply a stupidly named version of a Toyota Corolla. But the GSi, especially in hatchback form, was a rare creature indeed. Manufactured only from ’90-’92, it featured the 130hp 4A-GE motor found in the MR2 and Corolla GT-S. It featured upgraded suspension, disc brakes, larger wheels, and of course the obligatory red stripe.

This GSi was my fifth car—I owned it for only a year back when I was 19. I secured my first ever car loan and bought this used example with only 60k miles. It wasn’t incredibly fast (maybe an 8 second 0-60 time) but it had the 5-speed transmission, a 7600rpm redline, and was pretty fun to drive on the back roads of western Massachusetts.

1990 Geo Prizm GSi, 1987 Volkswagen Scirocci 16V
My Geo Prizm GSi. And my god-awful unreliable turd of a VW Scirocco 16V in the background.

My Geo was the nicest vehicle that I had ever owned—fully loaded with power windows, moonroof, and even cruise control. All that in a 1991 Geo! As the end of summer drew near, I decided that I couldn’t simultaneously afford college loans and a car payment. So I sold the car to my sister’s soon to be ex-boyfriend, never to see it again.

Even though it was just a lowly Geo, it was incredibly unique, very reliable, and had one of my favorite Toyota engines from the era. Would be very cool to try to find one of these again and see if it brings me back to when I was 19, driving around in my first “nice car”.

What cars have you wished you had never sold?

EDIT: Thanks to Ray from who helped me determine that my Geo was in fact a 1991, not a 1990. Thanks for the correction!

More to explore:

10 Responses

  1. Dude. There’s a black 1991 for sale in Salt Lake right now. Not in great shape, but a good restoration candidate. Did you know there were only 237 hatches built in 1991? About 600 in 1990, so yours (and mine) are still pretty rare. You should check out my website!

    1. Okay, so I’m looking at your photos above and I’m actually thinking you had a ’91. While you do have the eggcrate 1990 grille, you also have the full-velour seats (1990 models had vinyl on the back side of the headrest and seat), and the larger boomerang-style outside mirrors. Given that the emblem also appears to have no red, it would appear to me that the grille assembly was replaced.

      1. Oh, and the rear garnish piece between the taillights switched from a red reflector to match the lights to a black unit for the ’91 model year.

        1. Ah! I’m sure you are correct on the year! I had my Geo 20 years ago so my memory was fuzzy on the year. The place I bought the car from specialized in repairing lightly damaged vehicles, and I’m pretty sure the front end was repaired. So it’s possible they replaced the grille with a ’90 version. Thanks for commenting!

          1. Cool! I’ve gotten a collection of brochures together and am trying to get all these little changes straight in my own mind. I must be the biggest nerd in the world.

    2. Oh and I have been to your site before! I’ve wanted another GSi for a while. There was a white sedan here in LA on craigslist for a while but I never pulled the trigger. 1 of 237 for the ’91 hatch? Never knew that! Going to email the guy in SLC now… 😀

    1. At this point, probably just junkyards. You could try, they have a searchable database of parts. There is also a “Corolla Spares” group on Facebook (they’re based in Australia). They sometimes have parts like this. Hope that helps!

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