Rare Rides: The 1994 Isuzu Trooper That's Bighorn and Irmscher

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1994 isuzu trooper that s bighorn and irmscher

Rare Rides featured Isuzu vehicles on four previous occasions, and all of them were from the Seventies or Eighties.

Today we switch it up a bit and present an Isuzu from the Nineties. Ready for Irmscher?

The Isuzu Trooper entered production in 1981, and like almost all SUVs of the period was a basic and utilitarian way to get from A to B with no road between. The Trooper wore many different brand and model badges, as Isuzu boss General Motors ensured it had as wide a spread as possible. The Trooper was available in different configurations throughout its life as a Honda, Opel, Vauxhall, Holden, Acura, SsangYong, and Subaru.

Trooper’s first generation lasted through 1991 when the truck was replaced for the 1992 model year by a more modern, more luxurious Trooper. In addition to more standard equipment, Trooper was now considerably larger and more powerful. Chrome accents appeared everywhere, alloy wheels brought two-tone paint schemes more upscale, and some models sprouted headlamp wipers like fancy European cars.

Second-gen Troopers were powered by inline-four diesel engines, or three different V6 mills that ranged in displacement from 3.2- to 3.5-liters. A five-speed manual was the preferred transmission in most markets, but North American examples were largely equipped with an overstressed GM four-speed automatic. Isuzu also made the unwise decision not to sell the seven-passenger version Trooper in North America, though it was available in most other markets.

Like the first generation, two- and four-door body styles were initially available on the second Trooper. The shorter version proved unpopular in North America, and it was discontinued after 1995. 1996 brought along the extra luxurious Acura SLX version, and a visual refresh for 1998 modernized the Trooper a bit: It wore a revised front clip and new wheels. Trooper lived on through 2002 before cancellation. Domestically it was replaced by the relatively bad Isuzu Axiom and the relatively bad GMT-360 Isuzu Ascender. Poor Isuzu.

Along the way, a select few Bighorn (RHD branding) examples of both Trooper generations were modified by German tuning company Irmscher. Largely a visual edit, Bighorns received branded tape stripes, tire covers, and color match monoblock wheels on the outside. The interior featured stripy Recaro seats, an Irmscher steering wheel, and nothing else. Today’s 1994 example uses the 3.1-liter turbodiesel engine that wasn’t available in the US, paired with an automatic. It sold at a dealer in Seattle recently.

[Images: Isuzu]

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  • Sobro Sobro on Jan 25, 2021

    The GM 2.8 V6 and Isuzu 2.6 I4 were the standards of the world! At least if you had a tailwind. I had an '88 and a '92, both with the 2.4. As I have pointed out, the Trooper was one of the few trucks with disc brakes all around in the 1980s and the I4 had port injected EFI. Cutting edge for the time. I imagine the EFI was developed so it wouldn't stall when carb float bowls were canted near 45 degrees. I installed aftermarket cruise control on both and every Interstate Highway slope required right foot assist to maintain speed while in cruise. When I lived on Kentucky Lake in the 1990's, there was a tornado and dechero winds and a friend's resort and marina got trashed. While they were rebuilding the marina I was given possession of a 20 ft dock section for my lakefront that was blown ashore. It ended up in a low area that was grassy but wet. A friend's RAM 1500 couldn't pull it out of the damp but I backed up the Trooper, selected 4-Low, and away it went. Of course for transport it was loaded onto a trailer towed by the RAM.

  • Sechserreihe Sechserreihe on Feb 03, 2021

    I have a 1986 Trooper Turbo Diesel 2.2 liter. It's a US spec truck. Sold here in the States for only a year. Love it.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂