Junkyard Find: 1996 Isuzu Hombre

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1996 isuzu hombre

Some of the most interesting examples of GM badge engineering during the last few decades involved the Isuzu brand; first, the Chevrolet LUV pickup ( Isuzu Faster) arrived during the late 1970s, followed by the Chevrolet/Geo Spectrum ( Isuzu Gemini) and Geo Storm (Isuzu Impulse), and finally the Trailblazer-based Isuzu Ascender. Mixed in there was the Isuzu-ized second-gen Chevy S-10, also known as the Hombre.

You won’t find many Hombres in your local wrecking yard, but I kept my eyes open for one until this ’96 showed up in Denver.

This one came out of Shreveport Assembly, as shown by this alligator-themed UAW sticker in the door jamb.

The dealership badge originated with the Fox Auto Group in New York. Denver has been booming for decades now, with plenty of folks driving in from around the country, so I see as many out-of-state dealer emblems here as I do local ones.

Remember when Americans bought new trucks with manual transmissions? Neither do I, but this one has a five-speed.

226,741 miles on the clock, which is great for a vehicle that most used-truck shoppers would consider too small and too compromised by that third pedal to be worth anything.

It got hit hard in the passenger door, probably bending the frame and causing instant depreciation to scrap value. Some junkyard shopper grasped that this truck drove to the crash and yanked the engine, high miles and all.

Can the Isuzu Hombre beat the defensive line of the 1939 University of Montana Bobcats? Who cares?

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  • Kjs Kjs on Jun 10, 2019

    Two tangential thoughts: 1) I really hate dealer badges. No dealer in California does this, so when I lived in Virginia for several years, I was surprised to find that it’s a common practice on the East Coast. I’ve always wondered whether it’s easy to ask the dealer to remove the badge, but I moved back to California before I needed to buy a new car. California dealers just put on plastic license plate frames with the dealer’s name. By comparison to the badges, these seem like they’d be cheaper to manufacture, never mind to install and remove. 2) The brief mention of the Chevy/Geo Spectrum brought back memories of my grandmother. A widow who lived alone for about 4 decades, for about half that time she drove a silver (pre-facelift, so ’85 or ’86) Spectrum hatchback with a burgundy interior. She called it her “Silver Speck,” and we grandkids loved it. It was replaced in its (and her) dotage by a sky blue ’03-’05 Hyundai Accent sedan, which was never given a name.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 11, 2019

    I currently have a 99 S-10 5 speed 2.2 Extended Cab which has served me well over 20 years. I also have an 08 Isuzu I-370 crew cab for 11 years which also has been good but I prefer the S-10. Criticize GM all you want but both trucks have been very reliable.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).