By on January 22, 2021

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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10 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1994 Isuzu Trooper That’s Bighorn and Irmscher...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Tall, boxy SUV, yes! :)

    I did not know this was built as a seven passenger. I agree, it was a mistake not to sell that in North America

  • avatar
    tylanner

    The vintage Japanese SUVs are so lust worthy.

    They seem to embody “utility” but have somehow become pieces of art.

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    I always liked the Boxy Trooper and the Mitsu Montero. Unfortunately, Body and Frame Rust are major issues. saw a Trooper for $700 on CL not too long ago but the frame needed to be replaced.

  • avatar
    darisgin

    My Dad was always leading edge. He had a fax machine in 1982–WAY before Metcalfe’s Law made it useful. He also had an “internet” connection–Prodigy?–which for 8 bucks an hour gave you flight information and sports scores in garish Atari colors.

    So, probably around 1983 (or 4 or 5), my dad owned both an Isuzu Trooper and a Mitsubishi Montero. I don’t think we even had the term “SUV” back then. (Or if we did it sounded forced, like market-speak). The Trooper was totally bare-bones and could be slowed by the wind, but MAN did it carry a lot of cargo! Long trips from Boston to… King of Prussia PA? To go to what is now the well-known furniture mecca of IKEA (unknown at the time).

    The Mitsu had a need air-suspension seat for the driver-but not the passenger. I remember roaring around some rough terrain all comfy in the Mitsu, but then realizing my g/f was getting bounced all over the cabin.

    I can’t remember which one burned or why, but one of them caught fire and, sadly, my father learned that it’s best to keep those fire extinguishers fully charged :( . It might’ve even been halon at the time.

    I also drove a Montero in the desert just after the hotness died down in the Gulf War. What I’d long thought of as a pretty capable off-roader could NOT handle the desert, whereas our Humvees could just zoooooom (huge tires will do that). Trying to keep up with them in the Montero felt downright dangerous, like I was going to break *something*. Wham wham wham on the axles.

    Good times!

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Rustbuckets with a throbby giant four I seem to recall, the first ones were. The second model as featured here never seemed to sell around here, not even as an Acura. The Mark 1 was popular in a perverse way for some reason, the driver looked like a miniature in the big cab.

    The present day almost midsize Isuzu pickup they flog in the UK these days looks nice and even shiny. These old Isuzus had paint that oxidized to dull in no time flat. Geddit?

  • avatar
    Sobro

    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.

  • avatar
    sechserreihe

    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.

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