Crapwagon Outtake: 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1991 isuzu impulse rs

I suppose that I could be considered a “professional” car shopper. I mean, I am paid to spend my time checking out cars for sale across the web and report back what I find. It’s not my full-time gig (yet), but I guess it keeps me off the streets.

Over the years, my friends and acquaintances have decided to help me in my shopping. I’ll get emails with eBay links, get tagged in various Facebook groups (Mr. Zuckerberg, I’ll register as The Charity Rest Home for Wayward Amateur Auto Mechanics and Sentence Manglers for a bite at that $45 billion) and have my Twitter handle ( @tonn_chris for those playing at home) added to tweeted Craigslist shares.

Last week, a good friend tagged me with a hot Kei-car not that far from home. However, were I to investigate that car, I’d need a camera crew and “ Yakety Sax” dubbed in for the inevitable hilarity involved in getting my linebacker-sized frame in such a diminutive automobile. I’m still tempted, but it’s way out of my price range.

Yesterday, I was alerted via @SexCpotatoes while I was in church to a seriously rare, yet temptingly cheap car also close to home. The 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS was a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive rocket. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the similar, but much more popular Diamond Star triplets from Mitsubishi and Chrysler.

I love the obscure. This Isuzu was twinned with the Geo Storm, but the all-wheel drive and turbo were quite unusual with only around 1,000 examples of that combination imported. Parts can be nearly impossible to source, so this particular basketcase is fraught with danger. Worst yet, there’s likely little upside to restoring this car with an eye to selling it.

Plus, whoever does buy this runs the risk of one of the classic blunders. The most famous is “ Never get involved in a land war in Asia,” but only slightly less known is never buy an older Japanese car from North of the Mason-Dixon, where it’s likely to have acres of rust!

Had I the shop space, this Isuzu would likely be in my greasy hands by now.

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  • Jjthegreat Jjthegreat on Dec 08, 2015

    I had one of these. Bought it around 2001 from a lady who just had baby and couldn't put the kid in the Mexican prison otherwise known as the backseat. This was the best, most fun car I ever had. Tore up the rice rockets of its day but was outgunned by a decently running DSM machine. The handling was sublime. Seating position was practically sitting on the floor, almost go-kart like. Rear suspension struts were unique to the RS and were impossible to locate replacements. The awd transmissions weren't reliable either. They would snap from the stresses of AWD launches and eventually break. Mine was modded to fwd due to trans failure and ended up being faster due to lower weight. Fwd trans are easy to source from the likes of Geo stom gsi or asuna sunfires, drops in. The car was eventually sold as the tin worm got to it pretty bad from Montreal over salting its roads. Want it back now, I can actually fix things these days, own a decent service shop at my home garage.

  • Athos Nobile Athos Nobile on Dec 08, 2015

    I had one :P. Also a FWD one. Infinitely nicer than the one pictured. I miss those little bastards.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂