The Geo Metro was a joint effort between General Motors and Suzuki, introduced to North America in 1989. These economy cars were inexpensive with a price tag of only $5,995 and offered crazy fuel economy with up to 50 mpg thanks to their three-cylinder engine. And while most owners rave about how great and dependable these cars were, they don’t offer much in the way of looks or performance. However, that’s not what they were designed for, and surprisingly these little econoboxes were pretty popular in North America.
Ben Schmidt, a self-proclaimed LS-swapper, grew up holding a drop light and fetching tools for his father. And while he has a love for muscle cars and trucks he’s always wanted to do something crazy with a Geo Metro. Schmidt said, “My grandmother and uncle owned a few Metro hatchbacks when I grew up in the 90. I even drove one around the driveway loop a couple of times at age eight or nine, taking turns with my brothers. They were cheap, great fuel economy, a dorky-looking commuter car of their time, and I always wanted to do something ridiculous with one of these dork machines.”
In the summer of 2020, Schmidt found a Geo Metro for $200. After removing it from the tall marshy grass, he took the economy car home and stripped the interior, where he found $30 in the sun visor. With only $170 invested in his project, he decided to perform a superbike engine swap. Schmidt said, “I wanted to swap in a Hayabusa or ZX14r motor into the rear Smartuki style, but I couldn’t source a cheap enough setup by the time I found a cheap metro chassis.” With the prices of a superbike engine being a little higher than what Schmidt was willing to spend, he decided to go a different route with the build. Before too long, Schmidt had located an LS4 engine and a 4T80e transmission. Soon his Monster Metro would start taking shape.
In December of 2020, Schmidt finally had room in his garage for the project, and this is when he started working on the Metro. The car was in pretty bad shape, and he needed to fix some issues before proceeding with the engine swap. The first step was to rebuild the front end. “I had to do some drastic front frame horn and control arm mount rebuild,” Schmidt explained. “This is a typical failure point that puts many Geo’s out of commission.”
With the front end fixed and new Metro upper lower and control arms in place, Schmidt mounted the fuel cell under the hood before working on the rear of the car. The frame and body were the first things that needed to be addressed with this LS4 transverse axle swap. Schmidt built a one-piece main hoop and tied it into the rear tube and Cadillac cradle. However, with the engine and transmission in place, he had a new problem. The Cadillac DeVille suspension was slightly wider than the Metro body, leaving the 16-inch tires and wheels exposed. So, to cover up the wheels and tires, Schmidt went to work on a widebody kit. However, he said, “I would like to redo the fenders at some point with Chevy truck step sides to better match to the Metro body contours. But, we’ll see if I ever get around to that.”
With the LS-swapped Metro complete, Schmidt has put several miles on the car. And with 290 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, the new combination can be a handful. “The LS4 Metro drives pretty well, considering the lack of weight up front. However, high-speed handling is pretty sensitive as the alignment hasn’t been fully dialed in. I’m hoping to tune a little more stability into it, so I can confidently go above 100mph without feeling like I’m steering a funny car. Being a 93-inch wheelbase, it’s less than ideal for a high-speed 1/4 mile car, but it’s perfect for cruising around town or the countryside. If I ever take it to a 1/4-mile for a few fun passes, I just hope to keep it in my lane and not break anything significant.”
If you’re ever up in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, keep an eye out for the Monster Metro as Schmidt likes to hit the streets with this custom creation. And if you’re interested in purchasing it, the car is on the market as well. And while we didn’t get a price from Schmidt, he’s open to offers.