Junkyard Gem: 1996 Subaru Swift SLOKYO DRIFT Edition

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General Motors sold plenty of rebadged Suzukis over the decades in the United States, starting with the Chevy Sprint in 1985 and continuing with various Geo- and Chevrolet-badged machines into our current century. The one we remember best remains the fuel-sipping Metro, successor to the Sprint and available here through the 2001 model year. The Sprint and Metro were based on the Japanese-market Cultus, and Suzuki put its own badges on this car in the United States for the 1989 through 2001 model years. That was the Suzuki Swift, a car we know best today for its factory-hot-rod version, the Swift GT. Normally, I wouldn’t bother to document an ordinary Canadian-built Swift found in a boneyard, but today’s Colorado-found Junkyard Gem boasts some interesting custom touches that make it worth our attention. Get ready for… SLOKYO DRIFT!

While countless American owners of Integras and Lancers and 240SXs went nuts with JDM-influenced car decor following the release of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006, drivers of the tiny and miserably underpowered Metro/Swift econo-commuters felt left out of the party. The owner of this car knew what to do, though: buy some stick-on mailbox letters and slap them on this Swift’s hatch.

Junkyard-acquired badges adorn every surface of the SLOKYO DRIFT Swift, because why not? It turns out that many Reddit regulars in Colorado spied this car on the street, and so you’ll find many references to it on that site.

Since any 24-year-old econobox with a manual transmission and a salvage title will be nearly impossible to sell, we can assume this car spent its last few years just one broken part away from The Crusher. Once it needed an expensive repair, it wasn’t worth fixing.

The original owner’s manual and documentation remained in this Swift until the end. It appears that Colorado TV-advertising legend Dealin’ Doug moved this iron off his Cherry Creek Dodge lot when it had a mere 5,920 miles on the clock, based on this “Phoney Monroney” I found in the glovebox.

168,925 hard miles later, here it is.

At some point, it got totaled, put back together, and stamped with this REBUILT FROM SALVAGE lettering on the door jamb.

We think of the Metro/Swift as a three-cylinder car, but many of the later versions got this 1.3-liter “big-block” four-banger under the hood. That’s 70 raging horsepower right here.

The 5-speed made it more efficient and fun to drive, but killed whatever resale value it may have had.

Someone did some nice paint-pen work on the airbag cover (the color of which doesn’t match the rest of the dash, indicating an airbag-firing crash followed by a hurried junkyard-parts repair at some point in this car’s past).

What do you suppose Jessie drives today? Perhaps a Lemons Rally or Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 car?

Rob Lowe felt that the JDM version of this car was “hip conscious.”

Baby, you can drive my… Holden Barina?



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Saurabh Shukla

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