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Isuzu Impulse Turbo Listed for $500 on Facebook Is Worthy of Saving

This Giugiaro-designed hatchback deserves to live on.
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Right now, sitting on a flatbed in Loveland, Colorado, there’s a very special car in need of saving. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s even heard of it, even though it does happen to wear a moderately exotic badge. But for those in the know, this rare 1989 Isuzu Impulse is a hidden gem that deserves to be brought back from the dead. And for just $500, there are plenty of us out there with the means to do so.

Never heard of the Isuzu Impulse? Don’t worry, neither have most American car enthusiasts. However, it’s a car you’re going to want to learn about and, once you do, maybe even put half a grand down for.

In the 1980s, GM owned a big chunk of Isuzu and used its name to sell rebadged cars and trucks in the United States. Most of them were forgettable but, toward the end of the decade, something magical happened. GM let Isuzu go a bit wild and develop its own engine for a more powerful version of the standard Impulse, which was built on a rear-wheel drive, econobox chassis. So this Impulse RS Turbo for sale packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque into a rear-wheel-drive hatchback body, as the “4ZC1 Intercooled Turbo” decal on the side window teases. (The listing calls it a turbocharged 1.6-liter, but the first-generation Impulse didn’t offer that engine.)

It gets even better, though. Isuzu then partnered with another GM-umbrella brand to tune its suspension—Lotus. In exchange for Isuzu’s engine, for use in the Elan Roadster, Lotus tuned the Impulse’s suspension, giving it new shocks, springs, and anti-roll bars. The second-gen Impulse, which followed the wedge seen here, even experimented with a passive rear-wheel-steering system, where the direction of the wheels changed based on suspension travel, as well as optional all-wheel drive.

Anyone that thinks the Impulse looks familiar is onto something, too. Italdesign’s Giorgetto Giugiaro is the man who designed the Isuzu Impulse, which explains its handsome exterior. While this car has clearly been sitting for a minute, its Giugiaro-penned body has aged as gracefully as any could, free of any significant damage. It also still proudly wears its “Handling by Lotus” badge, which is of course pretty valuable to this hot hatch’s character.

The seller calls it a parts car, as it lacks its turbo and intake manifold, so it doesn’t run. There aren’t any interior photos to illustrate what it’s like inside, and it also doesn’t have a title. However, it’s such a rare and interesting car, it’d be a shame for someone to buy it for use as a parts car. At only $500, this isn’t an expensive project to start. While parts might be difficult to find, and potentially expensive once you do find them, this is the sort of car that you stash away as a long-term project, in hopes of bringing it back to glory. Whoever trailers it home ought to do exactly that.

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