Fifteen years ago, I wrote my first-ever automotive article under the name Murilee Martin, and it didn't take me long to start writing about one of my favorite automotive subjects: the junkyard. Before I'd refined my system for documenting discarded vehicles, however, I shot a lot of boneyard photos that never got used. For today's Junkyard Gem, I have four shots from early 2007 of one of the rarest turbocharged machines of the 1980s: the Chevrolet Turbo Sprint.

The Chevrolet Sprint was really a rebadged Suzuki Cultus, from the pre-Geo era when General Motors sold the Isuzu Gemini as the Chevrolet Spectrum, the Daewoo LeMans as the Pontiac LeMans and the Toyota Corolla as the Chevrolet Nova (soon enough, the Spectrum became a Geo, and the Nova became the Prizm). The second-generation Cultus appeared in 1988, becoming the Geo Metro on our shores the following year.

The Turbo Sprint was available for just the last two years of the Sprint's 1985-1988 American sales run, and it appears that just a couple of thousand were sold; if I'd known at the time just how rare they were, I'd have shot more photos of this one at the now-defunct Hayward Pick Your Part. The turbocharged 993cc three-cylinder produced 70 horsepower, 22 better than the naturally-aspirated version. Since the Turbo Sprint weighed just 1,620 pounds (that's about 500 pounds lighter than a barely more powerful '22 Mitsusbishi Mirage), it was plenty of fun to drive. For 1988, the regular Sprint hatchback cost $6,380 while the Turbo Sprint listed at $8,240 (that's about $15,375 and $19,855 today, respectively).

Believe it or not, a Turbo Sprint actually raced in the 24 Hours of Lemons 10 years ago, though it didn't end well.

This ad is for the regular Cultus, not the Cultus Turbo, but the screaming guitars sound reasonably turbocharged.

For the most part, Chevy Sprint marketing was all about cheap purchase price and stingy fuel economy… at a time when gasoline prices were cratering.

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