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At $3,000, Could This TLC-Needing 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS Get The Love It Needs?

Illustration for article titled At $3,000, Could This TLC-Needing 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS Get The Love It Needs?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice VehiCROSS says it’s in need of some TLC. Let’s see if its price reflects that need, or if it makes you say “GTFO.”

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Dickens opened “A Tale of Two Cities” with the eminently quotable line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Many of you channeled that passage in your reaction to last Friday’s 2009 BMW M5, claiming it to be at once the best and the worst possible BMW imaginable.

With nothing more than a Craigslist ad to go by, it’s difficult to quantify either of those two extremes, however, we did manage to at least address the car’s price. That was $19,999, an amount that many of you saw as just the start of the car’s wallet-draining capabilities. In the end, the brawling Bimmer fell in a narrow but decisive 57 percent No Dice loss.

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The downfall of Friday’s BMW and in fact the whole of the E60 M5 line was based in BMW’s hubris in creating a car with the obvious intent of providing the most extreme performance possible at the expense of the car’s longevity. The candle that burns brightest burns half as long, as it were.

In the case of the Japanese brand Isuzu, its failure in the American market was not of hubris or the quixotic pursuit of ultimate performance. No, in Isuzu’s case, their failures were mostly due to buyer apathy.

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Photo: Craigslist

Looking back on Isuzu’s legacy (no, not Subaru’s Legacy) it’s hard to see what exactly the company did wrong here in the U.S. They hit the emerging SUV and crossover market head-on with what, at the time, were extremely competitive products. Those weren’t plagued by safety or reliability issues like some other makers either. They even got a little weird for a while there, and offered a trucklet that looked like something out of a future imagined by Syd Mead or Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

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Photo: Craigslist

This 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS is an example of that weird car. Based around Isuzu’s 215-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and four-speed automatic, the VehiCROSS could keep up with its Trooper and Rodeo/Amigo stablemates. A BorgWarner-developed Torque On Demand AWD system made the car a solid foul-weather friend as well.

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It was the styling, however, that was what set the VehiCROSS apart from its brethren, as well as from pretty much every other SUV on the market.

The three-door body featured a steel upper section and charcoal plastic fenders and rockers below that as well as a matte section on the hood. In contrasting colors, the look can be especially dramatic. Here on this black on black example, it’s a bit less so. That doesn’t make it that much less weird and wonderful, though.

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The truck has a claimed 163,000 on the clock, although the engine is said to have been rebuilt at 115k. There’s no mention of how all that is working now, although somewhat ominously, the seller says that you’ll need to “bring a trailer” as the front tires are too bald to drive on, and that the truck overall needs some “TLC.”

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Photo: Craigslist
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It at least looks like a solid citizen. There’s no apparent damage to the almost impossible to replace plastic body panels, nor any evident road rot to the steel sections. The black-painted wheels, on the other hand, look a little worse for wear and could stand a bit of TLC themselves.

Inside, it’s a better story. The black and red leather upholstery and trim seem to be in fairly good shape. There is some noticeable entry and exit wear on the driver’s seat, and I’d like to see what’s under that steering wheel cover (or, maybe I don’t), but aside from that, it all seems livable.

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The seller says the car gets “good mpg” which is an interesting take since these things never got particularly good mileage. Maybe the seller is used to driving in Lambos and F-450s. The ad does note a clear title, so at least that’s not in question.

With a warning of issues and the need to trailer the car home, you might expect an aggressively set price on this Isuza, At $3,000, this in fact is way down at the low-end of the VehiCROSS market. The question for all of you is whether that’s low enough.

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What do you say, is $3,000 a fair price for this TLC-needing Isuzu? Or, does that feel like a “Bring a Trailer” price for this trailer-demanding VehiCROSS?

You decide!

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Lake of Ozarks, MO Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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DISCUSSION

The vehicle’s exterior looks pretty good for its age, and the interior too if you can overlook a bit of wear on the driver’s door-side bolster.

FWD model so it’s not for anything adventurous, unless you’re adept and not unreasonably ambitious.

The VehiCROSS is an example of a concept car escaping its handlers and finding its way to the mating barn. This thing’s styling is coming straight out of a vampire fanfic, and when the details were laid down somebody tapped the artist on the shoulder and said, “No, that’s too much Lugosi. More Nosferatu.” Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

You’re welcome.

All in all it’s an extremely distinct car that you won’t confuse for any others in the parking lot, a competent - not extremely capable, just competent - compactish front driver that won’t have people asking you to help them move. And this is a genuinely rare car for those who care about such things; less than eight thousand were ever sold in the US so you won’t see yourself coming back the other direction when you’re tooling down the road in your VampiCROSS.

Weird but solid, looks offroady but not this one. Ultimately, a competent car that works for under five grand.

Nice Price, but you have to not mind the things that it is and isn’t.