One Year Only: 71k-Mile 1986 Isuzu Trooper C223T

Isuzu's original Trooper remains a favorite of COTC for wearing a remarkably fresh and clean design while still being capable on and off-road. It's also worlds away from the later second generation that was ubiquitous in suburbs of the '90s and later caused hysteria about the high center of gravity in SUVs when Consumer Reports managed to roll one over during a test and subsequently gave it a "Not Acceptable" grade.

Before all that ridiculousness, there was the pure, simple, undiluted 1981-1991 Trooper, when people still bought them for going off-roading, camp sites, heavy hauling, and driving in poor weather. Isuzu debuted the vehicle with a solid rear axle and independent front suspension.

The styling is really great. In the 80s, the Japanese were starting to topple Mercedes-Benz as the jack-of-all-trades automaker by demonstrating mastery of almost every type of vehicle. The Trooper is brilliant in that it emulates the stark, hard angles of the Galendenwagen and provides some of the capability but at a miniscule fraction of the price. Essentially, they beat the Germans in the race to an affordable but reliable SUV, something the Germans still haven't been able to offer today.

The no-nonsense interior is an exercise in artful and aesthetically pleasing utilitarian design. Note the minimal use of plastic around the instrument cluster and pre-airbag steering wheel that give it a airy look.

Early Troopers were known to be relatively underpowered, but this rare example features the one-year-only (in the U.S. at least) 2.2-liter inline 4-cylinder C223 turbocharged diesel engine. Though still small, the Garrett turbocharger and low-end torque combined with the manual transmission and four-wheel drive make this a really nifty package. It doesn't get much more capable, sporty, and reliable than that.

The seller says this is a 2-owner vehicle with only 71,635 miles that has been in the San Antonio, Texas are all it's life. Cosmetically, they say its all-original inside and out and has no rust. Mechanically, they say it runs and drives great and everything works, including the a/c.

The rear seats fold down to make generous cargo space.

This is a really rare and under-appreciated vehicle in even unusually good shape with low miles and a great color combo. If there is such a thing as a collector Isuzu Trooper, this is it, hands down. Snap it up, pamper it and document your ownership. It's time this sees as much respect as a FJ Cruiser or Defender 90. And it does it all on a penny budget, too. Nice.

Available here on ebay in Navasota, Texas with extremely vigorous bidding already at $5,988 but reserve not met.

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