By on October 29, 2014

09 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember the Isuzu Amigo? A descendant of the platform that gave us the Chevy Luv pickup, the Amigo was the cuddly three-door version of the much more popular Isuzu Rodeo. Rodeos are still fairly easy to find here in Colorado, but the Amigo is another story. Here’s a last-year-of sales ’94 I found in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks ago.
03 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis spare has been used up real good!
05 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis vehicle shows all the signs of having been beaten to death by wastoid snowboarders, a common fate for small all-wheel-drive machinery in these parts.
06 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin2.6 liters of screaming Isuzu power.
08 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNote the shiny paint and outside rear-view mirror held on by duct tape, indicators that this truck went downhill fast once it got into the hands of its final owners.

Like most members of the Isuzu/Vauxhall/Opel Co-Prosperity Sphere, the first-generation Opel MU was available with a bewildering variety of marques and badges. This truck could be purchased as a Chevrolet, a Holden, a Vauxhall, or a Honda, as well as numerous flavors of Isuzu. Here’s a German ad for the ’94 Opel Frontera.

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32 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1994 Isuzu Amigo...”

  • avatar

    Yes, it went downhill fast–downhill into a tree or telephone pole, apparently.

    • 0 avatar

      Someone parked it at the top of a hill and gave it a good shove. The dude bros who owned it spent the insurance proceeds on six Domino’s pizzas and a quarter.

  • avatar

    Hmmmm…. wastoid snowboarders, eh?

    Come to think of it, my sexy ex-girlfriend had a wastoid uncle that one of these.

    Charcoal gray, manual transmission. Had the Amigo decal in a wildly 90’s pastel hue.

    I remember riding in the backseat through the woods, with the top off of that thing thinking it was cool (I was 19 at the time).

    Wastoid owners may have been a common trait amongst Amigo owners.

    As for me, personally, I always found the Troopers endearing, not so much these guys. The Amigo and the Diahatsu(?) Rockies were like the Geo Metros of this segment, IMHO.

  • avatar

    “Isuzu/Vauxhall/Opel Co-Prosperity Sphere”

    Heh… nice.

    TTAC causes synchronicity… just saw a black one of these yesterday in seemingly great condition. Rarer than a skinny white guy my age.

    Last Sunday, TTAC features the CR-Z and the same day I see the first one EVAH on my Honda dealer’s lot after years of visiting.

    • 0 avatar

      Also happened to spot one today as well. In the same shiny red, with purple ‘Amigo’ appliqué.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe we can work this…

        Whatever extinct car you desperately want resurrected… send TTAC an article about it and if it gets published… *pop*… bunches of pristine examples warp in from a parallel universe.

        “The first generation Isuzu Trooper steadily gained popularity in the then-crucial demographic of middle-class Americans…”

  • avatar

    i had a 1993 amigo base model 2wd. very well put together, held up strong, survived getting put underwater for a few hours, but going any speed above 55 was pushing it that thing was gutless. also the mileage it got was absurd for a 4 cylinder 5 speed 2wd combo. not even 15 to the gallon. very good off road even bone stock. bought it for $500 with 178,000 miles, painted the rims, and sold it 3 months later to a craigslist newbie for $2500.

  • avatar

    Seems like it might have been cared for and then given to a “wastoid” child or relative, who promptly destroyed it. A minor accident and no insurance, off it goes to the crusher.

    These things were eaten alive by the tin worm in the Rust Belt. I haven’t seen one that shiny since they were new.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Yeah, it’s a shame. These are no ’57 Chevys or ’61 Continentals, but it would have been cool to have one as a collectible just for the oddity factor.

      Really bums me out when someone keeps a vehicle in nice shape for 20-30 years and then it gets inherited or purchased by a dimwit who proceeds to trash it in a short time.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep. My mother-in-law has only taken 13 months to nearly destroy the mechanically perfect and cosmetically good 1996 Grand Marquis I sold her for a song. All the while complaining about the gas mileage. That car had been my daily driver for 10.5 years. I sold it both to “help her out” and keep my grandmother’s 1995 Sable from meeting a similar fate. (I have a no more than 3 vehicles rule). That car, all 61,000 miles of cherryness, currently resides in my garage.

  • avatar

    I’d like to mention the Amigo actually cameback for the 1998 MY. I just saw one in the junkyard not that long ago.

  • avatar

    This was a neat class of vehicles that just doesn’t exist anymore. Compact two door SUVs with soft rear roofs. At one time you had these, the Suzuki Sidekicks/Geo Trackers, Kia Sportage, RAV4… and now, nothing.

    This is just another symptom of cars becoming all more or less the same… A car now MUST be a four-door with a slushbox transmission and bucket seats, and a hard roof (with an option for a sunroof). There are exceptions here and there, but in the Amigo’s heyday, there was so much more variety.

  • avatar

    Point of Order.

    I would deduce “wastoid snowboarders” would be incorrect. The “Redneck” decal on the back access door gives me the white trash vibe. Not of snowboarders whom are inebriated on a constant basis.


    • 0 avatar

      Well maybe a redneck white trash snowboarder-since there is also a sticker for Ride Snowboards (a brand of snowboard) on the vehicle as well.

      Trust me the 2 cultures intersect-at least here in Maine and also when I lived in Jackson Hole.

      Not to mention things like trucker hats, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and proclaiming to be a redneck was the cool thing to do for awhile. Or so I’m told.

      • 0 avatar

        …and queue “The More You Know” Theme Song.

      • 0 avatar

        I could never understand the whole It’s Cool To Drink PBR thing. It used to be the beer you bought because you could not afford Budweiser.


        • 0 avatar

          When I were a lad PBR was an embarrassment that only the grey-skinned, hairy ear-hole crowd of blue-collar retirees at the dingiest bars drank to augment smoking and cholesterol in their successful quests to die within 5 years of leaving the workforce.

          That it ever gained the national prominence it has is an astonishing feat of resurrection marketing.

          • 0 avatar

            I was thinking it was just a fluke. The hipster crowd latching onto things for the ironic factor.

            The local hipster dudes pretty much ruined the vibe at the tiny, neighborhood Lesbian bar I used to hang out at.

          • 0 avatar

            Why didn’t the lesbians just kick them out?

            The hipster dudes I’ve known have been pretty bendy-foldy.

          • 0 avatar

            The bar is a pretty laid back place so fights were pretty rare. I went there because my then roommate drank her beer there. Besides being a Trans friendly place I went to shoot pool (they had the worst pool tables anywhere in town-made me a better player). Anyway, all was well as long as the hipster dudes knew not to hit on the ladies.


  • avatar

    Ah, the Amigo – not just for snow-bound burnouts, but for burnouts of all kinds!

    Be advised, the below is a useless tidbit, and includes massive drug abuse:

    I never thought much about Amigos until 10 years ago or so – fresh out of drug rehab and living in a sober house that had terrible management. My good friend from in patient rehab had just gotten out and was put in the same sober living as me. He had a plan, and he didn’t forget his MRIs showing massive spinal trauma. It wasn’t long before we were hitting the walk in clinics and scoring vast amounts of scheduled narcotic prescription drugs.

    However, Fat John (his nickname) and I needed our own wheels, so we headed to a sketchy rental place that looked like it specialized in salvage title only vehicles. Out front were 3 vehicles that the owner was proud of (and wanted extra money for): two mid 90’s SLs (a 500 and 600!!) and an early 2000s VW New Beetle. None of these struck Fat John’s fancy, and he asked to see the cars in the back of the lot. And there, like a shining beacon, was an early 90’s Isuzu Amigo, in a salmon colored coat, with a 5 speed manual. For some reason this (obviously old, w/ 190+k miles) Amigo really appealed to him. The owner of the place gave Fat John a good deal, and we were off and running to the clinics again, this time with a new cohort: our “amigo”.

    Fat John loved his new amigo, and spoke about it at length while he drove around loaded on pills, seeing rehab staff and sober living owners at every corner and intersection (Demerol does cause paranoia for some, I guess). Granted, I was supremely high for this whole ordeal on all sorts of old school sedatives and new school painkillers (FJ – Fat John – worked in the healthcare industry and knew what specific drugs would show up on a test and which wouldn’t), but there are some things I do remember about the Amigo; FJ hadn’t driven a stick for awhile, so I drove it half the time. On the busy freeways of the big city it was gutless and was hard to merge in traffic. I thought the removable back end was cool, and we took off the tarp often during those 2 weeks. It always started, but at one point we had to take it to some shop to fix something (can’t remember what, but it was still running). It had lots of room up front, enough to use a surface for snorting pills (or shooting them, as was FJ’s MO).

    I think FJ thought it was an inconspicuous car, but he failed to realize the few numbers of running Amigos on the road, and with it’s salmon pink exterior you would never mistake it for a ‘camcord’. A few people even commented to us about how they used to have one, or that few running ones they’d seen! I think some of the rehab folks caught on eventually. The daughter of the owner of the rehab (NOT the sober living – us sober living people still had to visit our rehab every weekend) finally caught FJ and I rolling up in the Amigo (and FJ was NOT allowed to have a car at the time); her first words? “Wow, an Amigo! My Mom had one in the 90s!”

    After that, the run was pretty much over. It really ended with FJ having a non lethal overdose of Ambien while eating cereal in the house kitchen at 3 AM – I’m surprised that this was what finally made the owner realize that half of his clients were using, considering lots of us were nodding out during meetings.

    The Isuzu Amigo will always be a car that brings me memories, as some cars do. If you read this far, thanks for sharing it with me.

    ***Sorry if I offended anyone!***

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These were decent, fun reliable small utes, though the head gaskets can be a weak spot. A cut above a Suzuki Samurai. The Redneck sticker just gives away how this vehicle was treated. Like a Bro-Country song gone wrong. Insert Jeff Foxworthy joke.

  • avatar

    I always liked these, especially the later models with the updated exterior and interior. I think the last year they called them the Rodeo Sport?

    There are plenty of them for sale around Florida, many even with 4wd, and they are fairly cheap, $3k should get you a pretty nice one. Seems like it would make a nice bargain alternative to a Wrangler for a beach runner.

  • avatar

    I think the Amigo was not available at as high a specification as the Rodeo. Seems like it was impossible to find one with nice looking wheels and leather, etc. I shopped these briefly at one point (02-03) for a first car, but by that time they were all rusted away in the midwest.

  • avatar

    Evan was a boomerang.

    Evan whipped open the door of the Karin Asterope. He grabbed the driver, ripped him out of his seat, and threw him to the ground like a rag doll. “Hey!”, was all the man could say before screaming and running off. Now behind the wheel, he took off at a high rate of speed. A voice startled him. “You’re not gonna be playing that thing till 3AM again are you?”, said Evan’s father. “No, I actually might go to a party.”, he replied, facing the TV again to find the Asterope smashed into a power pole next to the Vanilla Unicorn. “Well, pick up some milk and bread at Walmart on your way back.” Great. Now he HAD to go to the party. Evan looked out at the sprinklers running in the backyard on the golf course. Wedding season would be over soon at the country club, and he would go from being an underemployed 26 year old with a $30,000 debt to an unemployed one. The two hour old text read “Were all still here. plenty of berr leff”. Evan let out a frustrated groan upon verifying that his ex was no longer there. “Dad, do you know where the keys are to the Isuzu?”

    Evan found his red friend on the driveway where he had left it two months ago. Chalky white streaks ran down the tires from sitting in the rain and sun cycles. He questioned whether it would start or not. His eyes focused on the Ride Snowboards sticker he had applied over the too-Mexican-for-his-taste graphics when times were more carefree. The stickers were weathered and blistered, like his spirit. He hadn’t ridden in three years. He hadn’t really done ANYTHING in three years. His life was in a state of arrested decay. His meager earnings were diversified between rent paid to his parents, odd groceries, and an Xbox Live Subscription. There was little room in his finances for things like filling up the thirsty four of the Amigo and hanging out.

    The seat of the Isuzu felt like a canvas sack of flour beneath him. He twisted the key, and was surprised to hear the loud roar of the radiator fan, accompanied by the chirp-chirp-chirp of it’s rusty drive belt. Evan tethered his phone to the USB on the brightly lit face of the radio so he could enjoy some dubstep (Youtube: m7pLsTbTw4U). Evan engaged reverse, and turned around to try to see out the opaque plastic. He instead leered at the side mirror, which had sagged slightly on it’s tape attachment points. He gripped it to adjust the glass without snapping it off. After almost backing over an evening dog-walker, he was on his way to the party with two grinds to the gearbox.

    The Isuzu felt odd in Evan’s hands as it made it’s way to County Road 20 1/2. The tires tramped non-concentrically on the road surface. The weight was shifting on what was likely a low right rear tire, the one he had smoked bald in some celebratory manner long ago. He looked down at the shift lever in his grasp, trying to remember how to use it. Rain began to fall in the beam of the crystal Ebay headlights. He switched on the wipers to impair his vision further as old, dirty, destroyed rubber smeared across the windshield. That’s when the right rear tire ended itself with a “POW!”, followed by the noise of slapping and churning bits of debris that were loud enough to be heard over the bass of the subwoofers. Evan lurched forward, gripping the wheel in fright, wondering in that split second just how much further the rear would drop to the pavement. Evan’s foot darted to the brake to shed 70mph of speed. Bad move amigo. The Isuzu suddenly lost all composure, and left the road surface. This prompted Evan to lift his foot off briefly as if scolded. Then he saw it…and reapplied it to the floor.

    “Ugggh…FUUU…What the fuuuu.” Evan rubbed his chest where it had impacted the shoulder belt. His mind was rebooting, as he was trying to make sense of what to do. He unbuckled his seatbelt, then attempted to reinsert it, then just let it go in a state of absolute confusion. When he switched off the blasting stereo he was surprised to hear the engine still running, albeit, with the fan interfacing with the back of the radiator. He noticed the battery light was illuminated as he began to assess his situation. He reversed out of the utility pole a couple of feet, which silenced the fan. The lone crystal headlamp illuminated the scarred wooden post, now shifted in the earth. Evan got out to assess the damage. “Sh!+” The driver’s door hung up on the buckled fender. He climbed out the passenger side.

    A lit cellphone illuminated the grisly remains of the battery under the inoperable hood. Evan shook his head at the flattened tire. “How long would it stay running like this?”, he wondered. “[email protected] it.” He climbed back into the driver’s seat, engaged his four way flashers, and made his way back towards home on the ruined tire. “If I can just make it to Walmart…”, he thought, still in a state of shock. What little traffic he encountered on the way, looked quizzically at the battered truck, slowly making it’s way along like a staggering drunk. Beneath the bright lights, a puddle of coolant was slowly forming. All manner of smells were coming from the front of the Isuzu. Walmart security watched Evan change out the tire in the parking lot on the CCTV. “Jeez, look at this guy.” Evan went inside to wash up, but he did not get the milk and bread.

    Back in the driveway, Evan just wanted to walk inside and forget all about it. He needed his phone though. He forcibly opened the driver’s door, retrieved the phone, and then slammed the door shut. The mirror fell limp, like a dying man raising his arm saying “No…you…you go. Leave me.”, before succumbing.

    “Back already?”
    “Yeah. WELL, pretty sure I just killed my Amigo.”

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent! Somebody’s into GTA. The Asterope is commonly found along that street, down towards the hospital and police station area. Decent car as far as speed and handling are concerned – a little less sturdy than other cars. Pretty common and boring. The badge on the back indicates FWD, but in fact is RWD. Mash-up of a Chrysler 200 type car and an IS300.

    • 0 avatar

      “Bad move amigo.”

      Well done.

  • avatar
    Lack Thereof

    Oh man, just a few months ago we were scouring the bay-area junkyards for one of these. Needed to nab a transmission that would bolt to a Isuzu G-series engine, as our rig’s 4-speed had just become a 2-speed, and exact junkyard matches for the factory 4-speed are getting hard to find at this point. Luckily Isuzu seems to have near-infinite parts interchangeability, and we ended up finding a ’91 Isuzu pickup that could donate its transmission. This Amigo is too well optioned to have worked as a donor for us, though. We needed a 2.3 or smaller, 2wd setup to bolt up properly.

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