By on January 23, 2013

In the late 1980s, if you didn’t want to buy your Isuzu Gemini as a Geo/Chevrolet Spectrum, you could get it as a genuine Isuzu. I-Marks are (and were) very rare, though we have seen an ’87 in this series), and so this one with gigantic ISUZU badging has some historical interest for the true connoisseur of cheapo 80s hatchbacks.


The only I-Mark I’ve ever driven was the needs-some-TLC ’81 diesel in the clip above, and it was a fine car. However, that was the earlier Chevette-sibling rear-wheel-drive version. Today’s I-Mark Junkyard Find is the front-wheel-drive sibling of the Holden Gemini (among many others).
That’s the 70-horse 1.5 liter 4XC1 engine right there, close cousin to the engine in the early-90s Lotus Elan.
It was cheaper than the Civic, Corolla, and Sentra, and… it was cheaper.
This one almost made it to 100,000 miles during its 27 years on the planet.
It probably still ran when towed away, but expired tags spelled its doom.
When a car owner knows that the junkyard is the likely next stop, the Cotton Candy Little Tree usually gets replaced by a New Car Scent tree. That’s the law.
You want luxury? An I-Mark with factory sunroof in 1986— that’s luxury!

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19 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1986 Isuzu I-Mark Hatchback...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Those icons on the HVAC unit are classic. “Ya want wind in ya hurr? Or ya want wind on yer boots?”

    Ain’t no man got hair or boots like that!

    Also, I want to see a Stylus in the Junkyard Finds!

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Those Tow Warning stickers always fascinate me when I’m at the yard. They are almost always partially peeled off like the one shown.

    I picture the owner (no doubt, a woman as pictured on the HVAC) going to her trusty, but rusty Isuzu to find it placed there. She curses, then proceeds to attempt to remove it with her key. However, “The Man” has his stickers hewn from the finest frangible paper compounds. The owner relents, and decides the car is not worth the trouble. She says “May god take you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.” before leaving to score some more H.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I always confuse these with the Impluse which later became the Geo Storm. The Impluse was an even more awesome 80s hatchback – because you get it with turbo power!

  • avatar

    The only car I ever made money on was a Chevy Spectrum “sport”. Bought it for $250, put on a pair of tires, a timing belt tensioner and front sway par and sold it for $1500. It wasn’t a bad car. The “sport” package consisted of fatter front bar, a rear sway bar and a slick diagonal 2 tone gray sticker stripe package. It was on par with a Mk1 Rabbit GTI, if it had had a stick shift, which mine didn’t.

    Don’t forget, an I-Mark nearly won a Lemons race back in the Altamont days

  • avatar
    Flatlandman

    The 14ers checklist/t-shirt on the seat makes this extra Colorado-y. Also, that sunroof doesn’t look factory to me; more like the kind you could get from a windshield shop for about $100 back then.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    “Vehicle not in acceptable condition”

    That is horrifyingly vague. Flat tires? Large portions of vehicle missing? Leaking vital fluids into storm drain? Cracked windshield? Broken tail light? Pin stripes not completely uniform? Cigarette burn on driver’s side bolster? Radio station set to HOTT 95?

    I’m also surprised they came back for it only 2 days later. I’d be surprised if they could even recover the cost of towing it based on the salvage value. There was probably some neighborhood busy-body on the case.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    “Towed by Maxx”

    First, am I the only one seeing two X’s?

    Name of the towing company or name of the tow truck driver?

    I’m betting Maxx owns Maxx’s towing. There can be no other answer…

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    I loved to rev the 4XE1 in my Impulse to almost 8K rpm (redline was at 7800 RPM). It had 130K miles when I left it (I put around 70K miles on it). Elans got the turbo one and had a different engine cal.

    The Impulse is a sharp handler, I wonder how it would have been in AutoX or Rally.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I notice it was upholstered in luxurious prison stripe too. By then, the only place you could get those classy plaid seat covers was Pep Boys. It seems like only yesterday you could order a Rambler with plaid seats at no extra charge, your choice of red/blue, red/green, blue/green, or red/yellow. After two-tone paint jobs and chrome bumper tits, plaid upholstery is what I miss the most about the old days.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I know that when I was stationed in Japan that the japanese had a batch of respect for anything carrying the Isuzu label. I haven’t had any reason to doubt that unless it was an S10 in disguise.

    My neighbor a few years ago had a little Imark sedan with a diesel. Seemed to go forever.Ya can’t go back but sort of wish the company had fared better in the states.

    • 0 avatar
      zbnutcase

      No doubt. My Chevy Luvs (Isuzu KB) I had were two of the best vehicles I have ever owned. And go back and watch footage of the Japanese tsunami; Emergency rigs are Isuzu, and if you watch the background,lots of Isuzu dealer signs to be seen. I still have a batch of respect for Isuzu.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I’m surprised it hasn’t yet met the cold jaws of the crusher after three months of sitting there. There can’t be much of a market for parts for an 86 I-Mark…

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    Love those icons on the climate control.


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