“These small sports wagons were popular with growing families who needed more room but didn’t want to give up their sports car lifestyle,” says Motorweek host John H. Davis of 1960s cars like the MG B GT and Volvo P1800. Ah, it was simpler times back then, in 1991, just prior to the SUV boom. He says the Isuzu-built Geo Storm Wagonback builds on that heritage, is of the same ilk, and the review comes out generally favorable. But man, what could have been.
Motorweek says that the car was generally fun to drive, and despite some understeer and a rubbery shifter, offered substantial grip. That comports with contemporary reviews from other outlets at the time. Road & Track praised its 0.85g skidpad rating, Autoweek headlined it as “Slick, quick and inexpensive,” and Automobile said, “It’s a delight to negotiate twisty…roads with its firm yet compliant suspension.”
Alas, the Wagonback was offered only with Isuzu’s 95-horsepower, SOHC 1.6-liter inline-four. The sportiest version of the hatchback, the GSi got twin-cam motors that eventually maxed out in a 1.8-liter good for 140 horses. That landed the Storm GSi on Sport Compact Car‘s top ten list of 1992, and prompted a writer for Hot Rod Magazine to prep and enter one in SCCA’s Super Production class.
In addition, the three-door Storm Wagonback was rare. The regular Storm, no Toyota Corolla in sales, was offered by Geo for four years, but the Wagonback in 1991-92 only. That straddled the pre- and post-facelift years, and if you will recall, the pre-facelift design offered half-hidden retractable headlamps like the second-generation Isuzu Piazza/Impulse it was based on.
That means that in 1991, it was totally possible to walk into a GM showroom and buy a manual transmission shooting brake with pop-up lights. If you were patient enough and found a wrecked GSi parts car too, you’d have one wicked hauler of ass, and other things.