Lost Giugiaro: 1984 Isuzu Impulse

I love the Impulse! This is a forgotten chapter in Isuzu history. Today, the company has been reduced to selling commercial diesel trucks in the US. But during the Japanese Invasion of the 80s, Isuzu was striving to stand out against a crowded field of competitors like Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru.

I give them a lot of credit for trying. They specialized in small, efficient cars but weren't afraid to take design risks. One such was the Impulse, otherwise known as the Piazza outside of North America.

Isuzu commissioned legendary designer Giorgio Giugiaro to style a new sporty coupe for them in the late 70s. The result was the Piazza/Impulse. It was classic Giugiaro: simple two-box design, long hood, sloping rear hatchback, flat simple planes, sharp edges and square shapes. If you appreciate modern design, you appreciate Giugiaro and the Impulse.

The car debuted in 1980 but wasn't available in the US until 1983. Unfortunately by that point, the entry level two door rear wheel drive segment was very competitive. The Impulse was initially only offered with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, then gained a turbocharger and fancy Lotus suspension in later years. Production ended around 1990.

This is a nice early example with the basic 4-cylinder engine mated to an automatic transmission. The seller doesn't say much about the condition except it runs and drives. The car was obviously used a lot. A photo of the odometer shows it reading 140,636. The engine compartment, accessible through a cool front-hinged hood, looks decent and tidy enough. The exterior clear coat and rubber look worn, although what appear to be the sweet original alloys are a huge plus.

Inside, the cloth seats are torn, but the dash looks intact. These had cool adjustable steering wheels that moved the instrument cluster with them for maximum visibility.

The seller does say they have lowered the price down to $2,500, which is a good deal provided the car runs ok, has some maintenance history and no rust. This could become a daily driver, but would be nice to restore sooner or later, with fresh paint, mechanical going over and fixed upholstery. Japanese cars of the 80s and early 90s are the new up and coming classics, and mean a lot to the twenty and thirty-something crowd today. This car is a cool, easily obtainable new classic that can function as transportation and a piece of auto history. Not bad.

Available here on craigslist.

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