Home » Sunshine State Cheapies: 2000 Chevy Metro vs 2000 Lincoln Town Car

Sunshine State Cheapies: 2000 Chevy Metro vs 2000 Lincoln Town Car

Sbsd 5 16 2024
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Good morning! Today on Shitbox Showdown, we’re getting back to our roots a little bit, with two dirt-cheap runabouts from south Florida. Neither one will impress anyone, but they should both get you around all right.

Yesterday was all about trucks, and it occurred to me too late that while neither of yesterday’s trucks is a match for Forest Service Green, they are both pretty close to a couple of my favorite Fender guitar colors: Seafoam Green and Surf Green. In the end, Seafoam won, with the Chevy flatbed amassing twice as many votes as the slightly suspect Volkswagen.

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I’m a fan of both of these trucks, but the price of entry for old water-cooled VWs has just gotten out of hand. No way is that Rabbit pickup worth $3,500 in that condition – and yet, someone will pay it, I’m sure. Not me. I’ll stick with a good old Chevrolet for my pickup truck needs.

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When you’re shopping at the bottom end of the used car market, as I’ve said before, condition is king, and mechanical condition counts for more than cosmetic. Styling and features and color are distant considerations. You look for the best-running car you can find for the price, and put up with everything else.

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This hyper-focus on running condition and price above all else can lead to cross-shopping some cars that were never intended to compete with one another, and such is our matchup today. We’ve got one teeny-tiny hatchback and one great big luxury sedan. But which one is a better deal as cheap wheels?

2000(?) Chevrolet Metro LSi – $1,700

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.3-liter overhead cam inline 4, three-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Lake Worth, FL

Odometer reading: 100,000 miles

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Operational status: Runs and drives “perfect”

It never ceases to amaze me how wrong some car listings can be. The seller of this little Metro has it listed as a 2003 model, despite GM dropping the Metro after the 2001 model year. And in 2001, the only model offered was the four-door sedan, so this hatchback Metro LSi is, at newest, a 2000. It also can’t be any older than a 1998 model, because that’s when GM discontinued the Geo name and started selling the Metro with a Chevy badge. The seller also has it listed as a three-cylinder, which would be correct for a non-LSi version, but the LSi got an extra cylinder and a 16-valve cylinder head, bumping the horsepower from 50ish to a potentially tire-chirping 79. You’d think they would want to advertise that.

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This Metro is equipped with an automatic transmission, a basic three-speed non-overdrive unit that is under absolutely no stress at all from that tiny engine. Yeah, I’d rather have a stick, too, but once again, at this end of the market, running condition is everything, and a good-shifting automatic will get the job done. The seller says this car runs and drives “perfect,” and claims that even the air conditioning works – a bonus for hot and muggy Florida, though I imagine turning it on slows the car down quite a bit.

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It looks pretty nice inside, though personally I’d yank that blue rubber steering wheel condom off before I even drove home. I hate those things. Outside, it’s a different story; it’s three or four different colors of faded paint, with dents and peeling clearcoat. I get the idea, from the pattern of the faded paint, that this car wore a “bra” for most of its life. As a result, the front foot or so is still the nice original indigo color, while the rest has been bleached to a couple of different shades of sad-looking purplish-gray.

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The most optimistic feature of this car, however, is the tow ball, and it looks like it has been used. I looked it up: the 2000 Chevy Metro is actually rated to tow 1,000 pounds – so I guess one of those cheap Harbor Freight utility trailers is about all it can manage. Hey, it’s something.

2000 Lincoln Town Car – $1,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.6 liter overhead cam V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

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Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Odometer reading: 230,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great

At the other end of the domestic automotive market from the turn of the century, we find this Lincoln Town Car, the flagship of Ford’s line of Panther-chassis sedans. While Ford’s version, the Crown Victoria, is best known as the police cruiser and taxicab of its day, the Town Car was more likely to be used by airport “limo” and car services – so basically the same thing, but with a higher-income clientele. It’s a good, sturdy, traditional automobile, the last of its kind from Ford, with a separate body and frame, a V8 engine, and a solid rear axle.

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This Town Car, fortunately, post-dates Ford’s insistence on slapping a padded vinyl roof on every single one that left the factory. And lo and behold, it’s actually a pretty nice body style without it. It’s just different enough from the profile of the Ford and Mercury versions to make it special, but still obviously part of the same family. This one has a little wrinkle in the right front fender and has lost the center caps from its wheels, but otherwise it has weathered its 230,000 miles quite well.

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Outside, at least. Inside, it’s – to put it charitably – trashed. I don’t know if someone left their pet terrier Ripper in there for long periods of time, or drove around wearing studded leather everything, but the front seats in this car are done for. The rear seat is more intact, but it’s absolutely filthy, as is the carpet. And I do believe that’s the rearview mirror hanging from a wire I see. Gotta glue that baby back up on the windshield.

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But the seller says it runs and drives great, and that’s what we’re after. It has a lot of miles on it, but there’s a reason these cars were used for police and livery duties: they’re built like tanks.

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Good cheap cars have never been easy to find. Cheap cars, yes, and goodness knows I’ve had my share of those, but good cheap cars are special. It starts with something you can just hop in and drive home without getting scared. If you can find that, you’re off to a good start. It’s hard to tell from Craigslist posts, but I think these have the potential to be good ones, despite the low price tags. Which one looks like a better deal to you?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
12 days ago

Either, unless you want to drive on the interstates.

But 80 mph is normal on the highways now, the Metro with an auto can’t keep up and still have a reasonable safety margin.

The Town Car wins by disqualification.

Timothy Swanson
Timothy Swanson
12 days ago

Neither. Hard pass.

Baja_Engineer
Baja_Engineer
12 days ago

I’ll just get the Town Car. You can find Custom made seat covers that will fit like a glove and color match for $200. Then cleaning up the carpet, and getting the rearview mirror fixed for next to nothing and you’ll end up with a solid daily and comfy driver.

JDE
JDE
12 days ago

Had the Metro been a 5 speed I might have gone the other way, truth be told the state of those seat in the Lincoln almost swayed me anyway. But for comfy reliable daily drivers, the 4.6 Ford is begrudgingly decent in most instances. The Metro motor is OK if the Timing belts are serviced regularly, but that slushbox makes an already difficult to drive on the interstate car, nearly impossible.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
12 days ago

They are both compelling options. If you live in a congested city the Metro is clearly the better option; if you have to commute on the highway, then it is the Lincoln. I voted for the former, but both are good.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
12 days ago

I’m assuming it was used in the next installment of Shaknado. No pups make that damage but a shark might. Or a road trip where Taco Shackleford and his buddies never exited and had every meal at Taco Bell.

HAWHAW.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
12 days ago

These two have me thinking that $3,000 55HP Volkswagen pickup from yesterday is a bargain. However, in the spirit of the article Lincoln. An economy interior from a salvage yard and detailing is cheaper than a 3 cylinders car used for towing. It can tow the trailer empty but you know it wasn’t empty. The ignorant knowledge of the car makes for whatever surpasses a red flag. And runs perfectly? It didn’t do that new from the factory.

VogonFord
VogonFord
12 days ago

finding a pair of panther body-compatible seats in a junkyard would be super easy. give me the comfy!

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
12 days ago

Seriously, what causes your front seats to look like that? I mean those came with leather seats right? Not vinyl. Leather shouldn’t be “dissolving” like it appears the upholstery has

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
12 days ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Bonded leather aka book leather, is about as durable as newsprint.

Baja_Engineer
Baja_Engineer
11 days ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

This being a top of the line Cartier edition (the round watch below the radio is a dead giveaway) it would be the only Town Car trimmed with Connolly leather. The leather was noticeably softer than on Executives and Signature editions and the sewn pattern was also different.
Connolly also works/worked with Jaguar, RR, LR among others.
I know there are quality tiers even within some luxury companies but these particular seats seem more like the result of never being cared for or an unexpected event.

Cyko9
Cyko9
12 days ago

There’s a pretty big mileage disparity, and I went with the Geo. It probably won’t make 230k like the Lincoln, but it’s priced okay for a disposable car. The Lincoln is a decent deal if you want to freshen it up, but it seems like the money you’d put into it could be used on getting a better starting point.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
12 days ago

Metro for me since it seems to be in better overall condition and has less than half the miles. That Town Car looks like it has been beat to shit and likely needs a ton of work.

Smallblockeight
Smallblockeight
12 days ago

If I only have $2k to spend on a car, gas mileage matters. My sons P71 crown vic gets 18 mpg at best on the highway much less around town, and it’s slow. Not Metro slow, but for that gas mileage it should be fast.

Florida is flat so lack of power in the Metro is probably tolerable. Plus hatchbacks are cooler than sedans.

It’s a disposable car. Save money on purchase, junkyard seats, and on the gas and save up for something better.

Aaron
Aaron
12 days ago

If the Town Car is mechanically sound, it’s the easy winner for me. Especially in Florida. Even if you account for the higher mileage, support and parts are going to be easier to find. It shouldn’t be too hard to get some new seats and/or covers and do a deep clean on the interior. Once that’s sorted. you’re gonna have the perfect cruiser for those hot Ft. Lauderdale nights.When Florida is eventually retaken by the sea, you’ll already have a boat.

Last edited 12 days ago by Aaron
XLEJim700
XLEJim700
12 days ago

Of the three (3) Panthers I’ve owned, one was a ’95 Town Car slicktop, Cartier Edition. It was silver over near-sumptuous grey leather, with 16″ tasteful aluminum wheels

I worked on bridges for awhile as progress manager/owner’s rep (Rhode Island) and I would often put a yellow light on the roof and drive up & into traffic setups to monitor work, break up fights etc.

One day a laborer remarked that they never saw a Town Car used as a work vehicle. I just deadpanned, “I’m from New Jersey.” The guy nodded his understanding and went back to his tools.

This will be Panther #4.

Mike B
Mike B
12 days ago
Reply to  XLEJim700

RI bridge inspector? Sounds like a no-show job.

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