Junkyard Find: 1996 Isuzu Oasis

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1996 isuzu oasis

One of the best things about haunting high-inventory-turnover self-service junkyards is finding really rare vehicles. Sometimes those ultra-rare machines are ancient European cars nobody remembers, sometimes they are commonplace cars with options nobody ordered, and sometimes they are obscure imported minivans that disappeared without a trace.

Today’s Junkyard Find is the third type, with a bewildering badge-engineering subplot that made sense to about a half-dozen suits in Japan.

I still haven’t managed to find a Suzuki Equator in the junkyard, but I have been hunting for a junked Isuzu Oasis for many years. Finally, here’s a first-year example that showed up last week in a Denver yard.

The Oasis was really a first-generation Honda Odyssey minivan, and it was the result of the deal that allowed Honda to sell Isuzu Rodeos as Honda Passports (confusingly, the Honda Super Cub — most-produced motor vehicle of all time — was sold in the United States with Passport badging). While Honda vehicles in the mid-to-late-1990s had an enviable reputation for quality and value, Isuzu was an edge-case marque that few considered when minivan shopping.

The first-generation Odyssey was amazingly space-efficient and drove well, but (much like the Mazda5 today) it was a bit too Japanese (i.e., small and underpowered) for American minivan shoppers. The poor Oasis never had a chance in the showrooms.

Sales were miserable, and it appears that most Oases ended up as New York City taxicabs. This one may have been the only example remaining in Colorado.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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  • Jamescyberjoe Jamescyberjoe on Dec 01, 2016

    Who remembers Joe Isuzu?

  • CombiCoupe99 CombiCoupe99 on Jun 13, 2018

    Possibly rare in Denver, but almost two years after this article was written, I still see one a month in the DC area. My neighbor has the Honda version - awesome 355' visibility. Not rare - at least not here, not yet.

  • Bobbysirhan A friend had one when they first came out. He was CFO of some green California company and could charge the Volt at work. At home, the PHEV gave him an excuse to make his wife park her nicer car outdoors while the Volt get their condo's one-car garage. He liked the Volt, and he spent very little on energy during the 'first one's free!' era of EV ownership. Of course, the green company went bust soon after, and he wound up with a job that involved far more driving and ultimately the need for a more substantial car. I drove the Volt once after his wife had made a return trip to Los Angeles, depleting the battery. I don't know what a first gen Volt drives like with a charged battery, but it was really gutless with two adults, a yellow lab, and a dead battery. My other memory of it was that it had a really cramped back seat for a car that was about as large as a Civic. My friend who bought it liked it though, and that's not always been the case for GM vehicles.
  • MrIcky I think the Shakedown is more my speed of the last call editions- but this is impressive.
  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the live reveal last night, but after 15 minutes of jawing by MT+ personalities (and yes, I like Chris Jacobs and Alex Taylor), I turned it off.
  • Paul MBAs gonna MBA.
  • Zipper69 Clearly beyond German thought processes to simply keep A for IC engine and use "E" for all other so you can have a A6 and a E6.