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albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/10/20 3:31 p.m.

Back in 2006, my Dad found a beat-up black compact car hiding at a tax-break donation lot. He asked me to google what an "Impulse RS" was because the PO had vinyl'd up the hood with buzzwords like "All Wheel Drive" and "Turbo". It turned out my findings became a great research starting point because that car became my very first. We were both drawn to its relative obscurity and I was already deeply invested in magazines like this one, Sport Compact Car, Modified Mag, etc, so it was a natural fit. Turns out this 1-year-only (not counting the 5 made in '92) model wasn't super competitive with the DSM's of the era and was quickly scuttled along with Isuzu's entire compact car business shortly thereafter. Only GM could manage to kill a Japanese brand like Isuzu, with a strong portfolio of sporty compact cars complimented by their head-start on the SUV boom that continues to this day. 

We bought a parts car with a clean body and restored mine, did all of the bodywork ourselves and had it painted in a neat shade of lilac pearl under black. We even color-matched the valve cover while we had the paint mixed.


In 2011, while in college, I sold it to pay for my ill-advised foray into slow water-cooled VWs. Cars came and went, and I got a job in the real world, and the desire struck me to have my first car back. Luckily for me, the community is small and I was able to quickly track the old girl down. I must have caught the owner at a good time because he was looking to move on to a new project, and freeing up the cash with this would be convenient for him. 

The car is now safe and sound with me under a car cover in my garage. The old 13-year-old paint job is showing some age, where deep lilac gloss is interspersed with bubbles, Bondo cracks, and rust. I look forward to creating new memories with this car, especially now considering I have the funds to do what I couldn't as a young 16-year-old enthusiast. 

I once maintained a long build thread on this car starting back in '06 but that was hosted on Isuzone.org, a forum that's dead by any other name (also I forgot my password and my 2006 email address is long dead). This model requires a certain amount of finesse in terms of sourcing parts - anything that will fit and function - as any owner of the obscure drivetrain of an obscure car can tell you. That being said, I think this is a perfect place to store my thoughts and plans for this car. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy tinkering with it! The car more or less still looks like this:

 

albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/10/20 3:33 p.m.

Fun fact, in going through my pictures for this post, I found my old "Reader's Rides" link on this very website.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/reader-rides/1740/

Stampie
Stampie UltimaDork
2/10/20 5:29 p.m.

I've always like these. 

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin SuperDork
2/10/20 5:44 p.m.

I have fond memories although mine was the Geo Storm GSi 2wd version. It would do a genuine 130 mph and I could bake the tires through third gear. 

I liked it so much that years later I went looking for one for a circle track car. But it had oiling issues that we could not resolve inside the class rules which resulted in three cooked bottom ends, and parts got harder and harder to source. The cavalier transmissions if my memory serves bolt in and give some tighter ratios. Also I swapped the ECU for another that gave another 500 rpm. I want to say it was the SOHC version but wouldn't guarantee that.

paulmpetrun
paulmpetrun Reader
2/10/20 6:31 p.m.

VERY COOL!  I also had a 91 for a few years.  Bought it with a broken turbo.  Fixed and had turbo upgraded.  Then added some different wheels and tires, and drive the heck out of it!  Was lots of fun.  Sold it to guy who drove in to Pittsburgh from Indy(if memory serves).  He drove it home and hopefully enjoyed it for many years!  Will be watching for updates.  

Paul

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
2/10/20 6:37 p.m.

Nice. A good friend had a "normal" Impulse back in high school and I always thought it was cool.  this one is way cooler. I dont' think I knew an AWD version actually existed. 

Agent98
Agent98 Reader
2/10/20 6:43 p.m.

Wasnt that the Isuzu version of the Geo Storm, except 100X cooler?

bonylad
bonylad New Reader
2/10/20 7:16 p.m.

Fave car. Love it! Also have a soft spot for the Geo Storm GSi. Amazing.  

Slippery
Slippery UltraDork
2/10/20 7:24 p.m.

Fun fact (not that I am proud of it, but it happened). Late 90's one of these and me in my '89 Celica All-Trac were "cruising" down I-95 north of Jupiter, Fl.

Long story short, I got pulled over and given a ticket for 129 mph. Speed limit was 65 mph and the trooper said he did not want to take me to jail (over twice the speed limit was straight to jail).

Most expensive ticket I have ever paid and was glad to as it could have been much more. Clocked speed was 141 mph. 

 

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
2/10/20 7:43 p.m.

I love 90s super package restoration projects!

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin SuperDork
2/10/20 9:46 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

G'wan. You are dang proud of it and you know it.laugh

albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/12/20 9:02 a.m.

In reply to Agent98 :

Essentially yes. The Storm was an Isuzu in Japan, and for the US market they changed the fascias and headlight arrangement. The designer for the car is the same guy who went on to design the R35 GT-R!

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
2/12/20 11:37 a.m.

Ooooh man, I had posted an RS for sale in Colorado and I'm tempted to do a 9-hour trip to go tow it.

Super excited for this thread, especially the work needed to make things "work". Odd question- how many first gens do you see for sale? I've been low-key hunting one for a little while.

albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/12/20 3:44 p.m.

After I repurchased the car, my Dad was keeping it for me up in NY (seller was in PA) until I could move it to TN. Thanksgiving of 2018, I convinced my beautiful, patient wife to join me on the 877-mile drive from New York to Nashville in the humble little Isuzu. The car received a multi-point inspection from a local race shop (play spot the cool cars!), and we were on our way.

I remember the car had ridden a little...erm...stiff from my hot rod teen years, due to my "custom" coilover sleeves with 450lb springs. Apparently none of the owners between 2011 and 2018 felt the need to change that, although that may be due to the lack of available replacement parts (Narrator: "There are none"). The work they did do, however, was the reproduction of the original 90's badges and stickers, and replacement my old quiet stock-ish exhaust. Unfortunately for us, it was now a straight pipe. 

From NY through a bit of Ohio, with fresh road trip energy, my beautiful, perfect wife and I could still laugh at how the expansion joints occasionally bounced us out of our seats. We planned food stops at the last Wegman's we could (Erie, PA) and the little 9-gallon fuel tank managed a respectable 20mpg. We even tried to split music and podcasts through the radio, although the volume couldn't quite get loud enough to exceed the booming drone.

 By West Virginia, our moods had slowly been eroded by the noise. Our backs ached and we each had migraines. Night fell in Kentucky, and one of my few memories of this trip was my beautiful, peerless wife and I sitting in a Wendy's, quietly eating hamburgers. Neither of us had the energy to speak, which was fine because our ears were ringing so bad not much conversation could be had anyway. 

 

877 miles later, we were home. We went to bed and hoped our eardrums would recover by morning. My beautiful, peaceful wife hasn't ridden in the car since. 

albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/12/20 3:49 p.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

We get one or 2 every few months, though my experience is skewed because the Isuzone facebook group members collate all of the postings that ever turn up. Niche car buyers tend to stick together, it seems. 

 

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
2/12/20 5:32 p.m.

I love those motors.

I built some heads and ground a pile of cams for those in the early to mid 2000's, if I recall, through Isuzone. I think I have a few sets of cores lying around if you have any use for them

albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/12/20 6:05 p.m.

In reply to Peabody :

I'm sure I can find a use for them, or maybe even people interested in getting them ground as before. I'm not sure how private messages might work on this forum, but let's be in touch.

 

Rodulrich
Rodulrich New Reader
2/12/20 7:53 p.m.

I love this!  Following for more updates.

cdygrubbs
cdygrubbs New Reader
2/12/20 9:27 p.m.

Very cool! I used to frequent the isuzone forums in 2009-2010 and remember seeing your car on there. I always wanted a Storm GSI but could never find a decent one for a good price. My dad owned an RS back in the early 2000s and a Lotus Elan with the same engine (sold in 2018). Its too bad these cars are so rare nowadays.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks New Reader
2/13/20 11:31 a.m.

I've always thought that these cars were really underappreciated.  Yours is really well equipped too!  I'm jealous.

albino09
albino09 New Reader
2/14/20 8:54 p.m.

In reply to cdygrubbs :

It's a shame the old Zone is really dead. But I suppose for what I want to do to this, GRM is a really appropriate audience anyway. 

f6sk
f6sk Reader
2/20/20 7:30 a.m.

Just Create yourself a new account on the zone if you want to find your old posts.  Its still there. 

 

J1000
J1000 Reader
2/25/20 1:57 p.m.

These cars are so cool I'm glad you and your dad saved this one! I never even knew they made an AWD Turbo but I always lusted after them when I saw one on the road. Are they a 2.0L or different size engine? Is it related to anything else? Looks similar to the Ford/Mazda turbo 4s. What are the rest of the specs?

FooBag
FooBag Reader
2/25/20 4:16 p.m.
J1000 said:

These cars are so cool I'm glad you and your dad saved this one! I never even knew they made an AWD Turbo but I always lusted after them when I saw one on the road. Are they a 2.0L or different size engine? Is it related to anything else? Looks similar to the Ford/Mazda turbo 4s. What are the rest of the specs?

They are actually a 1.6L, rated at 160 HP / 150 ft lbs.  I'm pretty certain the engine was Isuzu's own and not really related to anything else.  There's decent info in this MotorTrend article.

albino09
albino09 New Reader
3/4/20 12:46 p.m.
FooBag said:
J1000 said:

These cars are so cool I'm glad you and your dad saved this one! I never even knew they made an AWD Turbo but I always lusted after them when I saw one on the road. Are they a 2.0L or different size engine? Is it related to anything else? Looks similar to the Ford/Mazda turbo 4s. What are the rest of the specs?

They are actually a 1.6L, rated at 160 HP / 150 ft lbs.  I'm pretty certain the engine was Isuzu's own and not really related to anything else.  There's decent info in this MotorTrend article.

You're right. Also, a rear-biased torque split to the AWD. The rear suspension is a basic 3-link/side that is fairly common among AWD and independent suspension FWD cars of this vintage (Subarus and 323 GTXs for example). The "Handling by Lotus" impact is the passive rear steering activated by suspension loading. Geo Storm and the Isuzu Stylus share nearly all of their mechanical parts, although AWD versions of those were only available overseas. 

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