KIDNEY, ANYONE? 1986 Isuzu Impulse Turbo

1986 Isuzu Impulse Turbo red01

We all know the level of difficulty involved in tracking down relatively unmolested AE86s and S13s, but for chasers of really rare plastic-bumper nostalgics, there’s even bigger game to hunt: the first-gen Isuzu Impulse. As ubiquitous as this car seemed in the 1980s — when the buff books were heavy with praise for its tasty Giugaro styling (and later turbocharged power and Lotus-tuned handling) — nowadays it’s nearly impossible to find even ratty examples for sale. Search the web for information regarding parts availability, and you’ll find one word repeated ad nauseum to describe the Impulse: “extinct.”

That’s why the appearance of this 1986 Impulse Turbo on eBay over the weekend was such a shock. Here we have a highly desirable three-pedal turbo with an alleged 16,000 original miles. The present owner has added a few personal touches, such as a lowering kit, chin spoiler and big shiny gold rims, but he’s careful to point out no fewer than three times that all modifications are reversible.

So, how exactly did a car that is “fun to slice and dice through flowing traffic” escape with only 16,000 miles after 28 years on this planet? Perhaps it didn’t: there is an awful lot of wear-and-tear on the passenger seat leather for such limited use, and anyway, Isuzu vendors are not exactly known for their veracity.  Still, this Impulse has a lot of eye appeal in spite of a few flaws, and anyway, where are you going to find another one?

1986 Isuzu Impulse Turbo red09

As of Tuesday morning, bidding had stalled at $3,700 with reserve not met. It’s doubtful that the final price will approach the somewhat baffling $8,500 ask of the last Impulse featured here perhaps at half that figure, this could be just the car for the brave iconoclast for whom an RA64 Celica is just too common. Check out the auction on eBay.

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15 Responses to KIDNEY, ANYONE? 1986 Isuzu Impulse Turbo

  1. Ben Hsu said:

    That last pic — the palm tree sunset reflected in red paint rising above the words “TURBO INTERCOOLER” — is perhaps the most 80s thing I have ever seen. Great find.

  2. Steve said:

    Perhaps “Styling by Giugaro” and “Handling by Lotus” has many believing, right or wrong, that this will become the next multi-million dollar JNC and so they are squirreled away in barns, garages, and warehouses just patiently waiting for the right time (and price)…

    • Ben Hsu said:

      Yeah, those are things that would definitely appeal to the traditional Euro car collector.

    • LTDScott said:

      Well it sure has more curb appeal than “chassis by Chevette,” which is also true.

      • OddBallPerformance said:

        That is somewhat of a misnomer. Having owned two previously, and on my third (1988 Turbo) I have discovered a few things. While the Impulse is based off of the GM T-car chassis, it is somewhat loosely. The closest GM platform to share parts with would actually be the Fiero from 84-87. The front spindles can swap out, save differences in spindle shaft diameter, the OD of the bearings in the hub, and their width, is identical. The brake caliper mount points are also slightly wider on the Impulse. The upper ball joint tower on the spindle is also thicker on the Fiero.

        The Fiero front suspension bushings are also nearly identical, with the upper bushings needing 3 thousandths removed to fit. The control arms themselves are not interchangeable, and the shock location is very different.

        The 4 link rear suspension is entirely unique and shares no parts.

  3. JimmieB said:

    I WANT IT!!!

  4. Iwakuni91 said:

    That chin spoiler really does it for me. Man this design holds up well! Current bid is at $3700, but when you’re broke, all you can say is,”ain’t that cheap!”

  5. Bart said:

    It will be very interesting to see what this car sells for. The current bid sounds about right to me, if one were to take a chance and buy this sight unseen. IMO, as pretty as she sits right now, there are just a few too many signs of wear that make me thing the 16,000 might be more like 61,000. But it is a Florida car, and the sun down there does bake it’s way into things over the years, and the seller does sound honest….not that it means anything. If I had the cash…and the space…and the time…

    • Jim-Bob said:

      The other thing about Florida cars is the peculiar way they rust. Because of all the humidity, a lot of cars rot from the inside out. It’s not uncommon to have a car here that has a rotten roof and solid quarters and rockers! As far as the interior goes, I have seen low (less than 5k) mileage cars less than 10 years old down here with absolutely destroyed interiors. If a car isn’t garaged and doesn’t have dark tinted windows the interior is toast.

      The one thing about this particular Impulse that irks me is the added boost gauge. It’s a low quality model seen on E-Bay or at Harbor Freight and makes me question how well the rest of the car has been looked after.

  6. Robert Jones said:

    Great car but being that there are so few of them left of the road and Isuzu is far from the car company is used to be, I would imagine if I ever needed a part it would end up costing me an arm and leg. I rocked this car in Gran Turismo 4 for a little bit. Fun drive with the simulator wheel. Definitely a head turner in the JDM community. Almost everyone knows what it is, you rarely see one and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who owns one.

    • Randy said:

      Agreed. May not be an arm and a leg to purchase, but upkeep to be able to use it is probably reserved to the lottery winners and hedge fund managers. Shame…

      LOVE the factory wheels, though; would look really good on a LOT of vehicles (trailer pic; not the gold spokes).

      • Bart said:

        Parts are not so much expensive, as they are damn near impossible to find. The Impulses shared the 4Z series engine with the ever common Trooper, so there are some crossover parts, but not as many as you would think. When I restored mine, parts were definitely an issue. Junkyards are your friend.

        • Randy said:

          I always equate rare/hard to find with expen$ive… I remember them being rare when new; haven’t seen one here in the rust belt in probably 10+years.

    • Bart said:

      The other thing to remember, is the Impulse is just a car like any other. Aside from the spaghetti bowl of vacuum lines under the hood, it’s relatively simple. So, as long as you have a clean body and frame, and a working trans and decent block, you can make them work. Most of the parts that go bad can be replaced with something aftermarket if needed.

  7. Steve said:

    1986 Toyota Supra

    …should I?

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