Fascination of the Boring: 1989-1990 Geo Prizm GSi

One reason why I never fell for E-Type Jags was that it seemed ignorant to praise how beautiful they are. The E-Type was never wanting for admirers, and I felt a bit scorned that so much attention went to the ever-popular XKE while so little appreciation went around to less obvious pieces of automotive beauty. Of course, I’m talking about the 1989-1990 Geo Prizm. 


In 1991 Geos started coming out of NUMMI with body-colored door frames, and they lost some of the late eighties look of floating roofs over blacked out A, B, C, and D pillars. Oh how many pillars they had! The styling fad of the day, the five door family car, afforded me this spectacular view up into the cold grey heavens.

There is so much beauty that can be found in Plymouths and Nissans and Oldsmobiles and Chevrolets and Mazdas and Pontiacs and Infinitis and Kias that there seems little time to spend preaching to the choir about vintage classics.

Allow me to digress with a brief story of my introduction to the world of Geo. In Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School my classmates would openly laugh at Mr. Thompson’s Geo sedan. Actually, more often than not we were laughing with Mr. Thomspon about his Geo, as it was he who had the best sense of humor about his beigemobile. Somehow, despite all of the endearing reviews and reports of high mpg and faultless operation, he knew that his Geo was the modern day’s Yugo – no car was more undesirable, no car more pitiful.

Back at home for a few weeks last winter, still jetlagged I went out into the blank January grey and found myself overrun with warm nostalgia upon seeing this half-forgotten Prizm, a car I’d biked past a thousand times.

Nostalgia aside, this car is part of a wild history I have not yet sorted out for myself, the Americanization of Japanese auto production, and it is full of time capsule styling elements, from its high output 130hp engine (which is by no means high output anymore) to its aforementioned hatchback commuter car styling.

While the Geo Prizm is no less historic than the XKE, its beauty is nowhere near as apparent. In a fine winter mist, however, and enshrouded with pleasing memories, a Geo can be just as stunning.

This entry was posted in Davis, Fascination of the Boring, Pictures. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fascination of the Boring: 1989-1990 Geo Prizm GSi

  1. Ben Orlove says:

    I like the light in these pictures, the milky hazy skies that reflect in the windshields, and the highly reflective wet asphalt that sets off the cars well. The way that the smallest branches of the trees do not appear (these are, appropriately, photos below high resolution) reinforces our distance from the moment when these cars were new: we can’t fully see either the trees or the cars.

    • Raphael Orlove says:

      I agree that we can’t fully see the car – it was so solitary on that block of N. Campus Way, with so much space around it it was kind of unapproachable. I was just back from Berlin ad I was used to tightly packed streetparked cars – bumping into this familiar old Geo was a little surreal. Glad you like the pictures, too!

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