Junkyard Find: 1996 Isuzu Oasis

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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]






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.

More by Murilee Martin

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 55 comments
  • 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.

  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain
  • MaintenanceCosts What Americans get told (a) vs. actual EV ownership experience (b)(and, yes, I am an actual EV owner)a. You'll be waiting indefinitely for slow chargersb. Nearly all of your charging happens while you're at your housea. EVs are prohibitively expensive toys for the richb. Fuel cost is 1/4 that of gas and maintenance about the same, with purchase price differences falling quicklya. EVs catch fire all the timeb. Rates of ICE vehicles catching fire are much higher, although the few EV fires can be harder to extinguisha. You can't take a road tripb. Road trips are a bit slower, but entirely possible as an occasional thinga. iTz A gOlF cArT!!1b. Like a normal car, but with nicer power delivery and less noise
Next