Thursday, November 13, 2014

4k: The Hard Knock Life: 16k-mile 1986 Isuzu Impulse

Like the titular character in the unreasonably light-hearted musical about the deplorable conditions of the child support system, this Impulse has had a short yet troubled life. Most garage finds need some amount of work before being roadworthy again: fresh rubber, seals, and other items deteriorated from years of neglect. This red headed orphan has gone through all that plus more, plus even more that's now the responsibility of whoever buys it. It's in good enough shape to be released back onto the roads after being locked up for years. Won't someone please think of the children? Find this 16k-mile 1986 Isuzu Impulse in Miami, FL for $3,700 reserve-not-met with three days to go.

The last time we saw an Impulse was our birthday celebration, when a New York seller thought a 8k-mile, front-drive, automatic, second-generation example was worth nearly $10,000. About 8 months prior, we became quite impulse with our coverage of these turbo hatches (we meaning the ever-petulant DT staff and the irreplaceable commenting community).

The owner bought it with 11,000 miles and has only added another 5,000 in the last four years, along with some performance and visual enhancements. Most notably, the 17-inch XXR wheels, a limited-slip differential, and a cat-back exhaust. Besides a few cosmetic issues, the car has a 4th-to-3rd transmission grind, leaky clutch master cylinder, and issues with the window washer, fuel gauge, trip odometer, and window switches. Stuff you would expect in a 116k-mile car, not a 16k-mile one, but certainly not deal-breakers.

This Impulse leads the echelon of other examples in various stages of oxidation for about the same price. It's a paradoxically bold and unrecognizable shape that's likely the cheapest way to get Giorgetto Giugiaro styling and Lotus-engineered suspension (only on 1987+ models), and shouldn't take Daddy Warbucks, er, bucks, to keep it on the road.

See a cheaper automotive orphan? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals


  1. Ok, I'm not going to wait for you to post an Isuzu Gemini, so I'll just toss this up now.

    I'd much rather have one of these than a Scirocco. Looks nearly the same, but it has Right Wheel Drive.

  2. Fleetwood T. BroughamNovember 13, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Sadly, the Lotus engineered suspension transformed this car. I say sadly because the lack of it takes this car from "OMG WANT" for me to "cool, but meh". Why is it that the time capsule cars are never the ultimate variants of a given model car? Someone will have 10k miles on a 1987 Fiero GT instead off an 88, or a showroom fresh Acura NSX with automatic transmission.

  3. This one is so damn clean that even for 5grand its a good deal imho, because you could swap in all sorts of newer motor/trans setups and have even more fun under 10grand total. This to me is like a classy trueno and I would have a lot of fun with it, being rwd and all.



    Needs a Solstice GXP turbo LNF powertrain.


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