Junkyard Find: 1996 Isuzu Hombre

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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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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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  • 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.

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.