Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3k: Not Quite the Slowest Car Ever: 1982 Buick Opel by Isuzu, turbo diesel

In November, we officially labeled the 1981 Isuzu I-Mark diesel as "The Slowest Car Ever." Its 1.8-liter all-motor oil burner turned out just 51 horsepower, which must have given owners plenty of time to enjoy the Redder-Than-A-Redneck-In-A-Red-State interior. The 1.8-liter Isuzu diesel unit is back, this time with a few tricks up its sleeves. In 1982, diesel Isuzus were blessed with Bosch VE fuel injection and an optional turbo, which resulted in 72 whopping horsepower. Time to surprise some Firebirds at the drag strip. Find this 1982 Buick Opel by Isuzu turbo diesel hatch for sale in Austin, TX for $2,500 via craigslist. 

Buick Opel by Isuzu. A name so bureaucratically dysfunctional, it had to be tied to General Motors. Applied today, this naming convention would leave the Scion FR-S as the "Toyota Scion by Toyota and Subaru," or TSTS on the street (except it would still be called the 86 on the street). But that singularity didn't apply to the global focus of the car. Part of the GM T-body platform, it underpinned cars around the world including the Chevette, Gemini, Kadett... cars lacking in performance, sure, but popular and hardy nonetheless.

This particular Buick Opel by Isuzu would have been sold at a Buick dealership in 1983. After 188,000 miles, it seems mostly rust-free and in decent driving condition. Someone has added the requisite diesel mods of a pyrometer for measuring exhaust gas temperature, boost controller and gauge, and an alcohol injection system. That's the lure of the five-speed manual/rear-drive combination at work.

With recent maintenance, the buyer just needs to fill the gas tank and the methanol and water tank, strapped into the trunk for easy access. Keep it full, turn the boost up, and you'll scrape 100 horsepower easily. Now that's just greedy.

See a slower car that's still fun to drive? Email us at

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


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wait. I never agreed to that. Of the cars that actually look like a car (not microcars like the Peel, for example), I would have voted for the Une Voiture Sans Permis. Of course, I wasn't around when the decision was made. That's your fault, not mine. Even a Subaru 360/Fiat 500/2CV has less hp than the Opel pictured above.


  3. Thanks for the back-handed nod to the 2CV. The funny thing is that there are not many times when I feel like my 2CV is slow in traffic. Of course, I am driving it pretty much flat out. That's what makes slow cars big fun!

    That being said, I am allergic to the sound of diesels. All my life, that sounds has meant "Shut it off RIGHT NOW before it comes apart".

    Stolen from (possibly) Motor Trend magazine back in the late 70s:

    Knock knock
    - who's there?
    -diesel who?
    Diesel save you a lot of money, if you can stand the noise and the smell

    1. You're welcome. You should know that I don't personally view less hp as a negative. Quite the opposite. We have waaaay more than we need these days and it really comes down to nothing more than marketing, IMO.

      I'm not opposed to the new diesels. They are, hands down, fantastic. Anything older than 10 years is pretty awful though, I'll give you that.

    2. So what got you into French cars, Bobinott? And does being in Canada help?

    3. Gee, after reading the tantalizing "Redder-Than-A-Redneck-In-A-Red-State interior" above, I admit to being somewhat disappointed see the seller was seemingly too 'afeared' to include a photo of his interior...oh well.


    4. K2MC, I refer you here to see where it all began .

      (also available in French, by clicking the language button at the top right)

    5. What a wonderful story! I haven't watched the film yet, but definitely will. Thank you for sharing. What do you currently have?

    6. Jeff, forgive me si'l vous plait, for the red comment. It was in reference to the slow Isuzu oil burner we featured in November. You can see its glorious redness here.

  4. Where is "JOE ISUZU" On this speed Demon ?

  5. It's rear-drive.

    And since it's an old diesel, in California if you get tired of the 72HP you can stick that LS3 in there without ever fearing a visit to the Smogstapo.

    1. What's the advantage of rear drive in this scenario? Possible future modifications?

  6. Always wanted to stick a 4bt into a car. This would be perfect, already set up.


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