Asüna was a fine, fabled old Marqüe of Excellence from GM Canada. Oh, wait a minüte, that’s not trüe; it lasted all of 27 whole, entire months—from April 1992 to Jüly 1994. The idea, so it’s claimed, was a coünterpart to Geo (sold in Canada at Chev-Olds-Cad dealers) for Pontiac-Büick-GMC dealers to sell. The brand fizzled becaüse Canadians boüght more Geos than Asünas for some reason.
Büt before that happened, at least one person boüght a 1993-only Asüna Sünfire. Maybe there were more than jüst this one, and maybe not; I don’t want to assüme. It’s an Isüzü Impülse/Geo Storm, büt with 100 per cent more ümlaüt. It’s got handling by Lotüs (and shipping by GM).
So that’s, let’s see here: an American company selling a Japanese car in Canada with a Germanoid name and a plastic emblem bearing the name of an English engineering firm. So how come none of this:
Oops, yeah, I güess probably it woüldn’t’ve worked, becaüse no way were they aboüt to püt a Japanese flag in that emblem. Anyway, back to the car:
Qüad roünd sealed-beam headlämps, too, half-hidden. In case yoü blinked one time in 1993 and missed it, here’s the Asüna logo. What do yoü see? There’s no right or wrong answer:
(Woüldn’t yoü really rather have an ümlaüt?)
Was this the first use of the Sunfire name by GM?
Yes, and as I recall a number of dealers got in hot water with GM Canada for pulling the Asuna badges off leftovers and advertising them as Pontiac Sunfires, in advance of the debut of the real Pontiac Sunfire for 1995.
Geesh, I’d pick the Asüna—under whatever which name—over the grim Pontiac Sunfire, any day of the week (and twice on Sundays).
Great find. I thought the half-hidden headlight treatment looked good on the Geo. These were rare when new. Attractive 90s colour. Especially lame, and telling of their loyal investment in the brand, they used a press-on decal for their badging.
I was a MLB fan at the time, and recall a relief pitcher by the name of Al Osüna, having a similar career timeline.
An astounding find, some 30 years later. I have no idea how many of these were sold, but it can’t be many, and BC is probably the only province in which they didn’t rust out in 5-7 years.
If I brought it to a Lotus event, I’d walk away asap so as not to spend all day explaining the car.
Now you mention it, I wish I’d thought to take my Spirit R/T to a Lotus event and park it amongst the Loti just to watch the sparks fly. From the owners, I mean, not from any of the cars.
I remember all this GM Canada marketing maneuvering being reported in the Canadian automotive press at the time. And I don’t think any consumers here, were buying it then. Already adjusted to marketing nonsense. To quote the British, it was all ‘Bad Rubbish!’.
As a graphic designer, seeing the two dots over the ‘u’ in Asuna, I could see the open contempt they had for potential buyers.
Ëvërÿthïng’s bëttër wïth ümläüts!
I do remember driving through Montreal and seeing a painted dealership sign for Pontiac Buick (and in smaller letters below) Passport Asüna, and thought nothing of Passport because at least that was a normal name that meant something, but what was “Asüna”? I never saw that sign again, and have never seen an actual Asüna car either.
I wasn’t aware Geos were ever sold in Canada, as I recall seeing several cars sold as Geo in the States with Chevrolet branding in Canada, as well as Pontiac equivalents.
Geo came to Canada for the 1992 model year. Prior to that, a subset of the Geo models were sold here with Chevrolet or Pontiac badging.
There are a couple of articles on the web that claim that Asüna was launched as Canada’s equivalent of Geo, and that the Geo brand was only launched in Canada after Asüna failed. This is false. Geo came here first, to Chev-Olds dealers, then Asüna shortly after as a Geo equivalent for Pontiac-Buick dealers (which I guess they desired because small cars were rather popular in Canada, although that obviously didn’t translate to success for Asüna).
Canadians…The real-world beta-test group for the GM B-team, bottom-of-the-barrel branding group, that just got done paying a consultant a hundred grand for a new brand and logo. Said third-tier consultancy having hired the wayward loser nephew of some GM muckety-muck somewhere, so let’s throw them a bone. Maybe it will take, but most likely not. Done and done, and put to rest.
See two posts above for the Canadian consumer response. 🙂
Oh, and thanks for the link to the wiki page for Rorschach tests, which itself includes a link to the Exner Scoring System which was “developed since the 1960s”. What’s that? I’m assuming they show you the front of a 1961 Plymouth and ask “what do you see?”
They had to stop doing that; people kept reacting by clambering under the desk, sucking their thumb, rocking back and forth, and muttering “no ouch…bad touch…”.
Fun fact. They also sold a geo tracker as the sun runner and the Pontiac Lemans as the SE. Seemed to me an awlul lot of effort for a brand that only lasted 1.5 years.
And the Sunrunner continued as a Pontiac after Asuna was canned. Pontiac-Buick dealers had previously sold it as the GMC Tracker.
The Sunrunner is back far the most common survivor from Asuna.
The LeMans clone had a base SE and the “sportier” GT as well so you can add another model to your list.
Handling by Lotus, Isuzu must have printed a container load of those badges a lot of Big Horn SUVs wore them too but Ive never seen a Asuna yet or if I have it was called something else.
We did get a few here ex-Japan, badged as an Isuzu of some sort. Still see the odd one around.
The brand logo looks like a warning pictogram that might appear on a similar vintage ‘Body by Jake’ workout video sleeve.
No, no, no. The brand logo looks like a warning pictogram that might appear on a similar vintage ‘Body by Fisher‘ workout video sleeve!
Hahaha! True. Congrats Daniel, on such popular articles this Saturday. Usually weekends are pretty quiet here.
+1. He’s in good form today!
We used to have an old joke up here in Canada
“Body by Fisher. Brains by Mattel”
I see Ringo with an ‘ole in ‘is pocket.
It has the same styling kit applied to the US model Isuzu Impulse to try and make it look like the previous generation, RWD, Giugiaro-styled Impulse. That setup always struck me as tacked-on and not as conceptually pure as the Storm’s mini-Camaro look.
GM NA looked like Unilever inventing bulks of new brands for cleaning stuff. Canada would be a good place for GM expanding Vauxhall and Opel range with Geo, Isuzu, Daewoo and Geo products. What a waste of energy and money to build up and entire brand instead of focusing in making cars as good as the competitors…
My wife has 1 of these ’93 Asunas with only about 35k miles on it. We’re actually putting it up for auction on bringatrailer.com in the coming weeks.
Hi there. Is your Asuna still for sale?