If there’s one marque that does not get the love it deserves in classic car circles, it’s Isuzu. Despite never producing a 510 or Civic, a car that really took the Japanese motoring world by storm, vintage Isuzus are ripe for crossover collectability from the concours d’elegance crowd.
Though those individuals likely think hachiroku and hakosuka are names of Pokemon characters (though that could soon change), Isuzu frequently teamed up with names they would easily recognize. Styling by Giugiaro, chassis tuning by Lotus, badging by Opel; you could argue the I marque was the most westernized of the Japanese manufacturers.
That’s why we were excited to see Hemmings Sports & Exotic feature a 1987 Isuzu Impulse Turbo RS. And not just any Impulse, mind you, it was a one-year-only special edition owned by occasional JNC guest writer and Isuzu specialist Bart Wilkus.
Perhaps this story, which can be found in the July 2014 issue of Hemmings S&E on newsstands now, will kickstart a newfound appreciation for the make. We highly encourage you to pick up a copy and indulge in all the Isuzu impressiveness. I mean, how can you say no to the brand that has, on its side, the greatest car salesman of all time?
Isuzu the often forgotten Japanese marque made an incredible in-road in the Australian market during the 1960’s and 70’s. The little Bellette and Wasp being the models making their mark here.
As GM took control though they were badge engineered as Holdens – and this lovely beauty of 80’s JDM product made it to Australia as the first (and only) generation Holden Piazza.
they were so revered that they were the ‘car’ on Australia’s version of the game show Sale of the Century…sadly nowadays very few actually exist.
I love the 80’s euro cross JDM style! I can see Porsche in there (look closely at the tail lights) along with Nissan Gazelle etc.
I agree on the tail looking very 928ish…I need to watch some Sale of the Century on YouTube…if it is out there.
There could even be a little bit of Renault or some other French influence in there too. The front has some styling like an Alfa (sorry can’t say exactly which model and whether it was before or after the Isuzu).
Digressing but related, we had a great number of Isuzu turn up for the All Japanese Day in Brisbane two weekends back!
Link to pics? I would like to see them!
I’ve been trying to find one of these, even non turbo, stateside for what seems like an eternity.
Watch my blog, I usually post about nice ones that come up for sale. There’s been at least two very nice examples in the last 12 months that have been for sale. They are very difficult to find in good condition. Most of them have been run into the ground and badly neglected.
The best way to find one of these cars is to dip your toes into the owner community. Check out Isuzu Sports Cars on Facebook and also take a look at Isuzone.org
That is exactly how I found mine, from the original owner who was a member on Isuzone.org.
Thanks for posting this, Ben!
Congrats Bart, just read the article last week actually. Love the car.
My Sapporo was in there a few months back, good to see more and more Japanese cars showing up in the mainstream! (Or about as mainstream as old cars get!)
Thanks, Brad. What issue was your car in exactly?
Very cool! These are awesome and very overlooked both back then and especially now (at least in the US). This is an amazingly gorgeous example of this unicorn. I love the design. The old Scirocco, also penned by Giugiaro, was of a similar theme, but the Impulse/Piazza had a much cleaner and more striking look overall, not to mention RWD. I love the *eye brow* faux pop-up headlights and the single blade windshield wiper. I was lucky enough to have seen one on the street a few months ago, really is a cool car.
Also, the 2nd gen Impulse/Piazza has to be one of the most forgotten and obscure cars by now. Even in its day I rarely saw one (altho the Geo version was pretty common). I don’t know how most feel about them, but I like ’em. I liked the design, especially that there was both a hatchback and a liftback coupe. There was even a turbo AWD model, and it even had passive rear wheel steering.
Yup, I think the gen2 (JI) Impulse is even rarer than the gen1 (JR) Impulse. The gen2s were only made for 2 or 3 years, with the 91 year having the AWD Turbo RS Editions. Most of these cars have been modded to hell. I have actually never seen one on the streets, but one or two has passed through my local junkyard. And you are right, the Geo Storm is much more plentiful, saw one the other day in fact.
I would love to have a Canadian Asuna Sunfire, just to mess with Pontiac owners.
Wonder how many people that guy had to beat out at the DMV to get them plates.
damn return button…..
Anyway, almost every AE86 variant license plate has been registered in my state. I have maybe two options, but one is my AE86 is a coupe, not a hatch……and the other might get me into trouble cause it sounds like a sexual euphemism.
I was shocked ‘ISUZU’ was available, but I am glad it was. Very cool to sport this “fake looking” but legit plate here in NV.
LOVED them! Just classy-looking. Haven’t seen one in I-don’t-know-how-long.
Haven’t seen the gen-2 models under either name in years, either, but I wasn’t crazy about the downsizing of it. I thought they would have been better as the “Junior” version.
I had an ’88 Turbo (Handling by Lotus), White over Blue, back in 2001. I still miss that car and would happily buy another, but even in 2001 they were an almost non-existent car.
What do the good ones go for nowadays?
I think a really, really clean one could potentially sell for anywhere from $4000-$8000, depending on whose looking. They come up for sale so infrequently, it’s had to know what the actual selling prices ends up being. I think most of the ones still on the road that need a little attention probably sell for more like $2000+/-. The seller was asking $9000 for this one in April:
No idea if it sold or not.
I’ve owned 5 turbos. Down to one parts car and 3 engines. I would love another one. I truly believe in keeping them as stock as possible. They were amazing in design and innovations.
Get in touch if you ever want to purge any parts!
Awesome cars I remember these growing up. In the UK they were called an Isuzu Piazza