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.

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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.

  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
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