We return to Abandoned History’s coverage of the twists and turns of the Daewoo story, at a time when the company’s predecessor, Shinjin, was no more. After an early Seventies joint venture with General Motors saw the company renamed to General Motors Korea, Shinjin bowed out of the deal after just five years. In 1976 Shinjin’s ownership in the business was sold to a state-owned Korean bank, and General Motors Korea was renamed to Saehan Motor Company. But that didn’t mean GM was out of the picture - far from it.
Let’s take a trip back to the 1980s — the time when one could drive past numerous Chevrolet and Geo (or Pontiac in Canada) dealers to visit their friendly Isuzu franchise. General Motors has a 34-percent stake in Isuzu, and that means some of the vehicles at the Chevrolet, Geo, and Isuzu lots are up to some badge-swapping trickery. Born as the Isuzu Gemini, the hatchback was renamed and rubber-stamped across brands, swapping badges and fascias with ease.
But one version was strictly badged as Isuzu, and only available for two years toward the end of the model’s run. It’s called the RS, and it’s Really Sporty fun on the cheap.
Even as GM was selling Suzuki Cultuses badged as Chevrolets and Daewoo LeManses badged as Pontiacs, your friendly Chevy showroom offered Isuzu Geminis with Chevrolet badges (a decade later, you could get an Opel Omega with Cadillac badges, but that’s another story). A few years back, we saw this 1989 Spectrum, which came with both Chevrolet and Geo branding, but today’s Junkyard Find came from the era prior to GM’s creation of the soon-to-be-defunct Geo brand.
In the late 1980s, if you didn’t want to buy your Isuzu Gemini as a Geo/Chevrolet Spectrum, you could get it as a genuine Isuzu. I-Marks are (and were) very rare, though we have seen an ’87 in this series), and so this one with gigantic ISUZU badging has some historical interest for the true connoisseur of cheapo 80s hatchbacks.
The Mitsubishi Sigma I found a couple weeks ago was one rare Junkyard Find, having been sold in the United States for just two model years. Today, though, we’ve got something even more obscure: an Isuzu Gemini badged with both Chevrolet and Geo emblems, available for just one year.
Sorry, Hemi Cuda fans, but this is one of my most prized CC finds. As you know all too well by now, CC is not about haunting car shows for immaculate trailer queens. It’s about documenting the cars that were once so (kind of?) common on our streets, and now are mostly gone. When is the last time you ran across a gen1 I-Mark? There’s probably a thousand Hemi Cudas (genuine or clone) for every I-Mark still soldiering along. And let’s not forget that in addition to just its rarity, the I-Mark also represents GM’s first big global car adventure. The T-Cars were made and sold by the millions all over the globe. I assume you recognize a mildly disguised Chevette or Opel Kadett C when you see one?
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