Junkyard Find: 1994 Isuzu Amigo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Remember 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.

This spare has been used up real good!

This 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.

2.6 liters of screaming Isuzu power.

Note 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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Crabspirits Crabspirits on Oct 31, 2014

    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. "Fu@k 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."

    • See 1 previous
    • 319583076 319583076 on Nov 05, 2014

      "Bad move amigo." Well done.

  • Lack Thereof Lack Thereof on Oct 31, 2014

    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.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: https://crackeraser.com/collections/diy-windshield-repair-kits) and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.