Joe Isuzu (David Leisure) gained fame and fortune for lying, while the cars he shilled never really achieved much of either. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Impulse is semi-famous, and that's no lie, but is its price worth giving up some of your fortune?
Isuzu wasn't the only company to see its fortunes fade in the US market, long before the Japanese GM derivative tucked tail and exited the game, so did the British maker of hair-chested sportsters of another era, Triumph. But before the Brits gave up on the Colonies, they dropped some beautiful bombs here, like yesterday's 1972 GT6 coupe. Looking like a half-scale Jag XKE, and rocking a price that wouldn't break the bank, that bodacious Brit managed a remarkable 85% Nice Price win for its Texas trouble.
Rule Britannia indeed.
You know how they say clothes make the man? I wonder if that's true of cars as well, as today's 1988 Isuzu Impulse, while mechanically unsophisticated, wears a tailor-made Italian suit. Isuzu's original Impulse took its styling - almost verbatim - from the Asso Di Fiori (Ace of Clubs) show car, one of four aces that Giugiaro had up his sleeve. The Japanese car maker and Italian designer go back even further however, Giugiaro having penned the sexy 117 coupe back when he was working for the weekend over at Ghia.
Those Italian duds wrapped around some British engineering as isuzu commissioned Foggy Old's own - Lotus - to handle the handling improvements necessary to keep up with the cool coupe styling. Lotus had their work cut out for them as the Impulse rode on a platform that originally debuted under the Opel Kadett C, and which was shared with. . . the Chevrolet Chevette.
What Lotus did was to go the Cialis route and stiffen everything up. Different sway bars, higher rate springs, and more aggressive shocks improved the basic platform's handling, and there's no denying the cool factor of the Handling by Lotus badging on the Isuzu's sides.
This 99K Impulse still has those badges, along with alloy wheels that have been showered in gold. Those offset serviceable metallic blue paint which, aside from some war wounds, doesn't evidence any major problems with the show car styled bodywork. On the inside, it's equally autoshow worthy as the instrument binnicle is also almost a direct lift from the Asso Di Fiori. That cluster of gauges pivots along with the adjustable steering wheel, and features a pair of moveable side pods heavy with chicklet-sized buttons, levers and switches. The overall look is very much 1980s future past tense.
The rest of the interior is also modestly worn, the ad admitting to some pinholes due to a previous smoker and the current owner's apparent fascination with matches. The back seat, resplendent in faux mouse fur, looks like someplace Barbarella would pitch woo, while ahead of that is the car's potential deal killer, that being the T-handle of its automatic transmission.
The ‘88 Impulses came with a choice of 140-horse turbo 2-litre, or, as is the case here, with a naturally aspirated 110-horse 2.3-litre. Backing up those 110-ponies with the 4-speed Asin slushbox made for performance that would rarely tax the Lotus tuned suspension, or prove a match for the Giugiaro styling. That styling was modified for ‘88, losing the cool half-pop up headlights for a quartet of those weird little rectangular sealed beams that in my opinion never looked quite right.
Of course, all that may be overlooked should you find this Impulse's price to look quite right, and it's now time to put that to the test. What do you think, is this Impulse worth $2,600? Or, could not even Joe Isuzu's wildest prevarications make that seem a deal?
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