Junkyard Find: 1993 Isuzu Amigo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
The family tree of the Isuzu Faster pickup, best known in North America as the Chevrolet LUV, developed a thick branch of models that included some decent-selling SUVs. The two-door Amigo was the first of these to hit our shores.Here’s a high-mile example spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.
This Amigo is a rear-wheel-drive model with five-speed manual and air conditioning. Its California smog-check records show passed biennial emissions tests going back to the middle 1990s, so it appears to have been a reliable commuter machine, racking up more than 10,000 Golden State highway miles each year.
The Amigo’s four-door big brother, the Rodeo, could be had with a GM 3.1-liter V6 in 1993, but Amigo drivers had to accept the 119-horse, 2.6-liter straight-four.
It’s vaguely outdoorsy-looking, but it’s likely nearly all of its miles were spent in stop-and-go traffic on the deteriorating tarmac of California’s roads. Part of the reason for the death of the manual transmission in the American market is the preference for as little left-leg activity as possible during an 11-mile/90-minute commute, but the driver(s) of this car lived with the five-speed. In any case, the Amigo had a sportier image than, say, a 1993 Honda Del Sol, and perhaps that eased the pain of those hundreds of thousands of 0.75 mph clutch applications.
The interior and cloth top are in pretty good condition, indicating that this Amigo’s owner or owners garaged it for most of its life. I didn’t see any major crash damage, so an expensive mechanical failure is the likely culprit that doomed this truck.
The first-generation Amigo was sold in the United States for the 1989 through 1995 model years (it returned in 1998), and this retro commercial riffs on the brain-scrambling Slinky ads of two decades earlier.
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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  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Dec 19, 2017

    A 2.6 liter 4 with 119 horsepower in a vehicle from 1993 sounds like a complete dog, to be honest...

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Dec 20, 2017

    Out of curiosity: Is it normal for an owner to not remove the plates on a vehicle destined for a wrecking yard? I was surprised to see the front plate on the passenger seat and the rear plate looking as though it was "ripped" off the rear (instead of just removing the mounting screws holding it on). We get a credit if we turn in plates from a vehicle that is being disposed of in this manner (or at least we used to).

    • See 1 previous
    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Dec 20, 2017

      California plates stay with the car from first owner to the crusher, or at least that was the rule when I lived out there.

  • Lou_BC Question of the day: Anyone actually care to own an old TVR?
  • Bd2 First, this was totally predictable. 2nd, Genesis already does have hybrids in the form of a 48V mild hybrid, but more performance oriented (supercharged and turbocharged), so not really helping with regard to fuel consumption. 3rd, Hyundai's hybrid systems don't really help as there currently isn't one that would be suitable power-wise and the upcoming 2.5T hybrid system would have to be heavily reworked to accommodate a RWD/longitudinal layout. 4th, it seems that Genesis is opting to go the EREV route with the GV70 the first get the new powertrain.
  • Bd2 Jaguar's problem was chasing the Germans into the mid size and then entry-level/compact segments for volume, and cheapening their interiors while at it.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Aja8888 I expected that issue with my F150 starting at 52,000mi. luckily I had an extended warranty and it saved me almost $8,000. No more Fords for me, only Toyota.
  • Lou_BC I saw a news article on this got a different read on it. Ford wants to increase production of HD trucks AND develop hybrid and EV variants of the SuperDuty. They aren't scaling back EV production. Just building more HD's and EV variants of HD's .
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