No Love in the Morning (Part One)

Isuzu is a world-renowned manufacturer of heavy trucks, buses and light commercial vehicles, but its passenger car business is long defunct. Its history is a complex tale of multiple alliances, one successful for a time, but all ending ultimately in failure.

1967 Isuzu Florian (c) favcars.com

Isuzu is the unlikely holder of one notable record, as manufacturer of the first passenger car built in Japan. That car was the Wolseley A9, produced from 1922 under a licencing agreement between the British firm and Ishikawajima Automotive Works, the company that would ultimately become Isuzu Motors.

Vehicle production was seriously disrupted during World War II but resumed in 1945. A contract to supply light trucks to the occupying American Army allowed the company to rebuild its business. It was renamed Isuzu Motors Ltd in 1949. Car production resumed in 1953 with a version of the Hillman Minx, built under licence from the Rootes Group.

In 1961, Isuzu introduced its first in-house designed model, the Bellel. This was an attractive looking medium-sized saloon, but was rather expensive, so did not sell well. It was followed by the smaller Bellett model in 1963, which replaced the Minx, and the larger Florian saloon in 1967.

Isuzu was very much a minor player in the fragmented Japanese passenger car industry and, in 1968, was pressured by the government into an alliance with Fuji Heavy Industries, manufacturers of Subaru cars. The alliance was not successful and was dissolved after barely two years. It was followed by even shorter-lived deals with Mitsubishi, then Nissan.

Finally, in September 1971, a more fruitful partnership deal was signed with General Motors, which took a 34% stake in Isuzu. This gave GM access to Isuzu light pick-up trucks, which were sold under the Chevrolet brand in the US. It also allowed Isuzu to partner with GM passenger car programmes, notably the 1973 T-car.

This simple but effective RWD architecture underpinned what was truly a world car. It sold mainly under the Chevrolet and Pontiac brands in the Americas, Opel and Vauxhall in Europe, Holden in Australia and Isuzu in Japan, the latter as the Gemini, launched in 1974. The Gemini was actually exported to the US from 1976, where it was sold, bizarrely, as the Buick Opel, even though it had no connection with Rüsselsheim!

1979 Isuzu Gemini, based on the GM T-Car (c) classicsworld.co.uk

Access to GM’s huge distribution network enabled Isuzu to export its vehicles in serious volumes for the first time. Between 1973 and 1976, Isuzu’s production quadrupled and exports rose from virtually nothing to 35% of total production. This initial period of expansion, however, would be short-lived.

Isuzu exports to the US were sold initially as GM branded products and, from 1981, under its own name, which involved setting up an independent dealer network. This move followed three years of declining sales. Recognising the superior quality and reliability of Japanese cars, consumers were buying Toyota, Nissan and Honda models in increasing numbers, but seemed to either ignore or be unaware of the Japanese origins of GM-badged Isuzu models.

The relationship between GM and Isuzu was also deteriorating. GM Chief Executive Officer, Roger Smith, told Isuzu Chairman Toshio Okamoto in 1981 that Isuzu was no longer regarded by GM as a favoured global partner. To add insult to injury, Smith asked Okamoto to assist GM in negotiating the purchase of a stake in Honda. Needless to remark, Honda rebuffed GM’s advances, no doubt having been made aware of the manner in which the US giant had behaved towards Isuzu.

Despite this setback, the relationship continued to develop, underpinned by GM’s shareholding. In 1981 GM and Isuzu partnered with Suzuki to develop a small car and assemble and sell Isuzu and Suzuki commercial vehicles in Europe under the Bedford name. Isuzu and Suzuki exchanged shares and GM took a 5% stake in Suzuki to seal the deal. Isuzu was by now a major supplier of diesel engines to GM. From 1989, Isuzu’s Gemini and Impulse models were sold in the US under GM’s newly established Geo division, which marketed a rather rag-tag collection of rebranded vehicles from different Japanese manufacturers.

1990 Geo Storm a.k.a. Isuzu Impulse (c) motor1.com

Isuzu continued to struggle in the US, hampered by the high value of the Yen making its exports from Japan uncompetitive. To counter this, it formed a partnership with Subaru in 1987 to build a US factory in Lafayette, Indiana, which was completed and in operation two years later.

In the early 1990’s, GM became increasingly concerned about Isuzu’s losses and the declining value of its shareholding. When the Japanese company asked for help in 1992, GM insisted that one of its executives, Donald T. Sullivan, be appointed to the Isuzu board as Executive Vice President of Operations. The appointment of a foreigner who did not speak Japanese to the board of a major Japanese company was without precedent.

Sullivan, an expert in strategic planning, began a major rationalisation of Isuzu’s business and product lines, stripping out overlapping light commercial models that were cannibalizing each other’s sales, reducing capital budgets and laying off temporary staff. He stopped short of making permanent staff redundant, a move that would have been fiercely resisted by the company.

Sullivan’s actions helped stem losses in 1993 and 1994, but the company still carried a very heavy debt burden of almost $7.5Bn. Sullivan concluded that Isuzu could never be a viable player in the passenger car business and should instead concentrate on manufacturing commercial vehicles and supplying diesel engines to GM.

Recognising that its domestic passenger car offering was weak and incomplete, Isuzu entered into an agreement with Honda in 1993 whereby it would sell the Odyssey MPV and Domani and Accord saloons under the Isuzu name, while Honda would sell rebadged Rodeo and Trooper SUVs.

1993 Isuzu Gemini a.k.a. Honda Domani (c) drom.ru

Such partnerships may have been expedient in the short term for plugging gaps in its range and increasing its reach, but Isuzu was always the weaker partner and was vulnerable to outliving its usefulness, as happened with its core partnership with GM. Moreover, potential customers were often confused by an incoherent range, comprising genuine Isuzu vehicles and obviously rebranded offerings from other manufacturers.

The GM stake, which was increased to 49% in 1998, was subsequently diluted by an Isuzu share issue to which GM did not subscribe, and was then sold off by GM in tranches, the last in April 2006.

2006 Isuzu Ascender, built by GM (c) autoblog.com

Isuzu’s exports peaked in the mid 1990’s and declined thereafter as its range became increasingly dated and threadbare. Isuzu sold its stake in the Indiana plant to Subaru in December 2002 for a nominal $1, although the plant continued to produce Isuzu Rodeo and Axiom SUVs until July 2004. By January 2008, when the company announced its withdrawal from the US market, Isuzu sold only two models there, both rebadged GM SUVs.

Isuzu’s passenger car business faded away to nothing from the early 1990’s. In Part Two, we will recall the vehicles for which it is best remembered.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

49 thoughts on “No Love in the Morning (Part One)”

  1. Good morning, Daniel. The first time I heard of Isuzu was somewhere in the eighties. The 4×4 scene started to develop in the Netherlands and the Trooper wasn’t that uncommon, but didn’t sell by the boatload either. I can find exactly zero for sale today. Have they all gone to Africa? All I can find are pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles.

    Little did I know that the Bellel was the first Isuzu sold in the Netherlands. I read up on it probably thirty years ago or so. If I remember correctly the car wasn’t a success: The shock absorbers weren’t good and the seats were way to small. It was well equipped though.

    One of my dad’s business relations in Sweden had an Isuzu Piazza or Impulse, can’t remember. It was never sold officially in the Netherlands, so I’ve never seen one.

  2. The Isuzu DMax pickup and (to a lesser extent) the MU-X 7-seat off-road wagon seem to sell reasonably well here in Australia.

    1. Could we see a return of the Trooper? The MU-X7 is of a rather different genre, but not wildly apart in general principles. The Trooper was a blue-chip stock in its day, before the Pajero usurped its primacy. Those in the know speak more highly of the Isuzu than the Mitsubishi.

      The return, at least in name, is more likely now that GM have sold their manufacturing facilities in South Efrica to Isuzu, and have left the market wide open for the D-Max and MU-X in Australia and Nee Ziland. (My recollection may be faulty, but I think Australia only got the Trooper as a Holden Jackaroo)

      I’m enjoying the Isuzu love here. At least, unlike most of my favourite marques, Isuzu could be considered an Emeritus carmaker, rather than a defunct one.

    2. Hi Robertas. An acquaintance of mine had a Mk1 Trooper back in the nineties. It was a high-mileage example, a bit crude and rattly, but as tough as old boots and great off road. Like you, I had heard that the Trooper was regarded as even more durable than the Shogun. Unfortunately, the economics of returning to a market with only one viable model (two with the D-Max) probably doesn’t make sense.

  3. Poor old Isuzu, maker of rebadged passenger cars and not much to their name otherwise since the Vehicross. They might very easily have shadowed Suzuki who are another small but interesting firm (I think about Suzuki a fair deal).

  4. The T car isuzu was sold far and wide. They were fairly popular in australia as well, sold as a holden. The t platform also underpinned the stylish piazza which had irmscher and lotus trim levels.

    On an unrelated note, who was Archie Vicar? Was he a satire writer? I seem to have come across him a couple of times on wikipedia, with his often strange opinions. The citation usually comes back to this site, so Im sure you could enlighten me

    1. Andrew – the link back to this site is because I am responsible for (and I use the word in its very broadest sense) the Archie Vicar archive. If (and I used the word very carefully) one reads the texts attributed to Vicar one will deduce Archie Vicar worked for a wide number of periodicals, all of them now closed or very, very, very hard to locate precisely. While the views expressed in Archie Vicar’s articles are amusing to us (perhaps) they seem to me to have been drafted in earnest. What I mean is, we are to understand Vicar wrote sincerely and any humour is unintentional when seen from the perspective of Vicar.
      The official line is that Vicar died in 1981 (or 1980) and is buried in Malvern. What is thought to have been his home is now the site of supermarket. All in all, he seems to be one of the many shadowy figures of the print age (Basil Cardew might be another – who discusses his work today and yet he was a leading name in car journalism in the 1960s).

    2. Ah. Thanks for the clarification. However, this makes dtw far from the least influential authority on cars

    3. Andrew – but not that very much further removed from its status, I hope. We´d only get corrupted if we were more influential …. excuse me, Adam Opel gmbh is on the line….. a long-term Insignia test car, you say….?

  5. I’ll always have a soft spot for Isuzu’s passenger cars, on the basis that an astonishing array of designers (Giugiaro, Peter Stevens, Simon Cox, Anthony Lo, Julian Thomson) worked for them at different points in time. The results weren’t terribly consistent, but very interesting.

  6. Hello Daniel, a very interesting article and I look forward to the next instalment.

    I think it’s perhaps overstating things a little to say that their passenger car business is long defunct. It’s true that they focus on trucks, buses, industrial power plants and pick-ups, but they also have the mu-X SUV, in Japan, at least.

    1. Hi Charles. Fair point, but the MU-X SUV is a diesel (only) powered body-on-frame design heavily based on the Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck. I would suspect that it wouldn’t exist without the D-Max and that sales to private buyers are minimal, hence I regarded it more as a commercial vehicle than private car.

  7. Worth noting as well that Hino Motors was formerly part of what became Isuzu Motors before it was split off, the same or similar is believed to be the case with what is now Kawasaki that itself produced the Kawasaki KZ360 kei car prototype that remained stillborn because they were unable to establish a dealer network.

    That brings up the question of if Isuzu’s automotive division would have fared any better had Hino Motors and Kawasaki not been split off?

  8. Hello Daniel, yes – I’m being a bit of a pedant (so unlike me, lol). They don’t make light cars, any more, which is a pity. As Christopher said, they commissioned some interesting models, in the past. I wonder if, because they’re small, they were more prepared not to dilute proposals made for them.

    1. Charles, you are self-critical to a fault! You could more easily and justifiably have accused me of playing fast and loose with the definition of a ‘passenger car’ to suit my own ends. 😁

    1. The writing was on the wall, I suppose. It still says something both about Mitsubishi´s odd lack of marketing nous and also the peculiar or particular nature of the UK market. You´d imagine that there were enough customers for brands outside the broad mainstream and there were two decades ago when Mitsubishi offered a broad and normal range of cars that matched the main categories. Done the years some of them were very attractive vehicles like the late 80s Galant or more recently the Lancer saloon (a neatly sized car in classic compact saloon mode) or the Colt of the 00s. All of them offered high levels of reliability too. I´d not have a problem taking charge of an 80s Lancer (2.0 litre, please) whereas an Alfa, Peugeot, BMW or Audi or a Rover etc from the same period would make me think carefully.
      Incidentally, the departure of Mitsubishi in the UK is paralled by its departure from the ROI market:
      https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/motors/mitsubishi-leaves-with-a-legacy-of-broken-electric-dreams-behind-it-1.4439457
      The Irish Times article reflects the well-established position of Mitsubishi in Ireland where I think it had a a loyal customer base for many years.

  9. Ooh, yes please, the 80’s-tastic red wide-bodied Starion:

    Much nicer than those Evo-thingies

    1. It’s all quite sad really seeing the cars and particularly those number plates up for grabs. I grew up near Cirencester, the home of the Colt Car Company, and they were regular, generous sponsors of local car club events I was involved with during the 1980s and early 90s. I remember being driven around Cirencester Park in a Shogun at the launch event, showing off it’s off road capabilities, so I’ll have the SWB Shogun please and a CCC plate to put on it. Poor old Mitsubishi.

    2. It is lovely – I’ll bet it fetches a good price. Slight shades of the Mazda RX-7 at the rear.

      I’d forgotten about the wheel arches – I’ll add the Starion to the Integrale, Quattro and Nova for having ‘flares’ in the 80s.

    3. The Starion is clearly a showing-off kind of car but the way it´s done is quite consistent. The whole front end is well integrated – the shutline, gaps and graphics are all really tidy. I didn´t pay enough attention to this stuff at the time.

  10. Does the front of the Isuzu Florian in the topmost picture look like an early Fiat 132?

    1. Hi Dave, I see what you both mean: the Florian has a pleasingly refined ‘European’ style to it and the twin-headlamp front end is reminiscent of the 132:

      There’s a version with slim rectangular headlamps that reminds me on the ‘Neue Klasse’ BMW 1500.

      The only detail I would change is to lose the odd step in the bodyside crease in the front door skin.

    2. Isn´t the Florian delightful? The step in the body-side crease might make sense when seen from side view. Either of these cars are more interesting than most people´s ideas of a classic car and makes my penchant for Trevis seem banal.

  11. The Isuzu Gemini has a pleasing style to it – the way the fillets are handled indicate carefully controlled lead-in. Although it´s a car some might call “boxy” the boxes are draped with subtle surfaces that defy obvious description. I saw the Opel version of this car the other day – if it had an Italian badge more people would notice it. Was it the case that American clay modellers did this? They were at the top of their game in the early to mid 70s.

    1. Hi Richard, the GM T-Car really was a minor masterpiece. Here it is in Opel Kadett C form:

      I think it works equally well in all four bodystyles, not an easy thing to master.

  12. It is interesting to compare the Isuzu Florian with the Rootes Arrows as both were launched around the same time, were of roughly comparable dimensions and had similarly long production runs, the Isuzu G (later the Z) engines was even said to have been derived from the Minx OHV engines (as was the Isuzu C/DL/F diesels).

    There were stillborn plans for the G engine to receive 16-valves under development for the T car platform however it was abandoned when Isuzu joined with Lotus via General Motors in the mid 1980’s to design a new range of lightweight compact 4, V6, V8 and V12 engines with and for Lotus engineering.

    Would presume the engines in question were the Isuzu X (a version of which was used in the Elan M100), Isuzu V6, a few V8s ranging from the 240 hp 3.5-litre “Feretta” V8 (tested in the Chevrolet Beretta) and 4.2-litre Isuzu 4200R V8 as well as the LS1 V8 and lastly the 3.5-litre Isuzu V12 F1 engine tested in the Lotus 102 F1 car.

  13. No doubt the Isuzu Aska will crop up in Part 2, but suffice it to say , it was legendary in 1980s Ireland and made Isuzu many fans. In 1999 I was checking used-car lots looking for an upgrade to suit my better-half, who liked my eleven year old Mazda 626, and the electric-everything aspect. ( I soon realised that I would be better-off waiting until 2000 since most owners were waiting for a double-O reg on their new cars before trading-in their old ones).
    Anyway, I visited a local dealer selling Jap imports from his ( large, well equipped) back yard. It always bemused me, the way they kept so much interesting stuff for the domestic market only. Where else could I have seen a second generation/K11 Micra with fuel injection and electric windows? Or a third generation /DC1 Honda Integra with a big wing and four doors? (I still carry a torch for that one). Then I spotted the Mazda 323/Familia in the corner. The pretentious bonnet scoop identified this as a diesel model, and I was looking for petrol. I had peeked under the bonnet of a diesel 323 before, and been surprised that the scoop was only for show – the mediocre two litre Mazda diesel motor didn’t need it. On this Familia however, which was four-wheel drive, opening the bonnet revealed a big intercooler under the scoop for the 1.7 Isuzu turbo-diesel motor. I did ask the price, and sadly it was way over budget….
    Years later I sometimes drove a company Nissan Sunny van. The Sunny saloon used a 2.1 litre Nissan diesel engine, but the van version had a 1.7 Isuzu motor – unfortunately without any turbo. I did see 115 mph on the speedo once, on a downhill stretch of motorway – but not in Ireland.

    1. Hi Mervyn. Was the Aska a big seller in Ireland? I don’t recall ever seeing one on my visits there. I don’t think it was ever offered for sale in the UK.

    2. The Aska was a GM ‘J’ car. Imported by the folk who handled Hino trucks I think. GM/Opel didn’t object to them bringing in the Aska diesel, since there were no Opel diesels at the time,( and when the Opel diesel did arrive it was a gutless 1.6 litre). Lucky sales reps were given the regular Aska diesel, and really lucky sales reps got the turbo-diesel. Before common rail diesels came along, diesels were very very slow. Isuzu pioneered turbo-charging, making them much more enjoyable. Company users liked diesel because I believe they could claim back the vat on diesel fuel, but not on petrol.
      A neighbour who used to cover a lot of miles bought an Aska TD brand new and put 250K on it before it was written-off in a collision, and by that time he was unable to source a new one.
      For years afterwards, if any used diesel Opel was advertised for sale, an Isuzu engine was a major selling point.

    3. The trailing edge of the DLO tricked me. The DLO looks like that of the Opel Rekord E; from other views the car looks more like an Ascona. That led me to look for photos of the Ascona and I had a series of pleasurable aesthetic experiences. I want to go back to 1977 and inhale partly-burned petrol and brake dust in the middle of Germany.
      https://forum.retro-rides.org/thread/74142/love-gm-car
      The first image shows a Garda car chasing an Opel Ascona.
      And yes, the Kadett carried its various body styles very well. We covered this before: Opel superserved the Kadett customer base for a long time. Now we´re left with 5-doors and estates.

    4. Hi Mervyn. Thanks for the additional information about the Aska. I’m afraid it doesn’t get a mention in Part Two, but you’ve filled that gap nicely!

    5. @Richard Herriott: My private conviction is that the Aska really is a discarded Opel proposal for the J-car, just because of the similarity to the then contemporary Opel design language. The J-car was supposed to be a “world car”, therefore it would be in GM’s best interest not to change the body-in-white. Late in development Opel backtracked and redesigned the American proposal with a new rear and a longer boot, thus making the “world” part of the world car a moot point. My conclusion is that GM simply sent the original design off to Isuzu because they had already ordered the pressings or whatnot. The Aska is simply too much Opel for this to be a coincidence.

  14. The first new car my parents ever bough was an Isuzu KB crew cab (89 i think), so i have a soft spot for the brand.
    My father had a boat repair shop, so the crew cab could do double duty.
    The thing had a true penchant for rusting though, but my father managed to crash it into a bus before it had completely rotted away.

    Its a shame the passenger car part of the business was shut down, as they made some true gems, but the D-max seems to have revitalized the brand, so hopefully we might still live to see the trooper reborn.

    1. Hi Richard. Curbside Classics attribute the Florian to Ghia’s Fillipo Sapino.

      Incidentally, did you notice the slight difference in the DLO treatment of the red and white cars pictured above? The lower edge of the fixed rear quarter light is straight on the red car, but angled upwards on the white example. I’m not sure which came first but prefer the straight version. Either way, it’s a remarkably subtle change to make. I wonder what the thinking behind it was?

  15. From what I’ve gleaned, the white car with the uptick in the DLO is the earlier car.

    Isn’t this rather nice, the Isuzu 117 Coupé:

    1. That’s a new one on me Fred, never seen it before.

    2. I have also just seen a Moratti vehicle in real life once. (Morettis are probably even rarer than pink Rolls-Royces.)
      That was the time when we were looking for a classic car and finally decided to buy an Alfasud Sprint.
      Of course, I immediately fell in love with the Moretti (any Moretti). But after a bit of research, I quickly realised that a Moretti would easily be a bigger nightmare than an Alfasud in terms of spare parts supply (body panels) – an Alfasud is already a nightmare enough, but a Moretti can makes it even worse by the blink of an eye.
      But they are beautiful, no question. And exclusive, no question. And presumably the Morettis are like a helicopter: you can make a small fortune with them – if you start with a big one.
      And even more off-topic: Moretti made a version of the Fiat 2300 coupe. In my next life as a billionaire, this will be one of the first cars I will acquire.

      (Wake up, stop dreaming, Fred. Back to reality and back to topic again…)

    3. I don’t know what to make of the similarity but I find the general area in the vicinity of the C pillar is executed far better on the 117 Coupé than on X351.

  16. Isuzu did a very nice wide angle V6 engine. Instead of a cylinder bank angle of 60 degrees, the Isuzu was set at 75 degrees. That made the engine flatter and reduced its height. It also reduced the altitude of the CoG some while allowing more room for inlet manifolding. My understanding is that the engine was designed like this to allow a lower bonnet line for a passenger car (possibly a sports car). In the end the engine went into the Bighorn so the attribute of reduced engine height likely was not exploited.

    1. Would be interesting to undercover which passenger car or sportscar was to be the likely recipients of the 75-degree Isuzu V6. The J-Car platform used by Isuzu for the Aska was capable of being fitted with V6s and rebodied by other marques up til 2005, yet would Isuzu have rebodied the Aska or made use of another GM platform like the GM2900? Maybe the 75-degree V6 was intended for a non-Isuzu GM passenger car altogether?

      The Lotus Excel and Lotus Esprit seem to be possibilities for the 75-degree V6, which would have made some degree of sense based on the Isuzu powered Elan M100 if the V6 was to originally appear much earlier and in a much higher state of tune compared to Isuzu’s later use of the engine.

      Fwiw Oliver Winterbottom’s book mentions during the M90 project in the early 1980s (around 1982), that one of the other prominent engineering projects Lotus was to be getting from Toyota was the design and development of a V6 engine though it is not clear it is referring the Toyora VZ, the much later Toyota MZ or another stillborn engine project.

    2. The current Honda NSX also has a 75 degree V6, not shared with anything else as far as I can work out.

      I’m rather more taken with the re-emergence of the 120 degree V6 (Ferrari, Maclaren, Aston Martin). Only makes sense in a mid-longitudinal position, where there’s so much to like.

  17. The Isuzu Bellett was briefly assembled in rural Nova Scotia for the Canadian market in 1968. They managed to make only 585 before calling it quits. It had a 1.5 l engine and proper IRS, no swing axles. People quite liked them but rust had been a severe problem on the three prior model years of Japanese-made models , and Isuzu seemed a confused company, not really in it for the long haul at the time. Toyota was going to assemble cars in the same industrial park but never quite got around to it. I’ve never been able to discover what happened. It is a (local provincial government) secret, but Volvo prospered for over 35 years while expanding twice 150 miles away in the only big metropolitan area. Of course when it originally happened, the 122S and PV544 didn’t actually rust when it rained and had superior paint (and everything else).

    The GM T-car sold in North America by the millions as the Chevette and Pontia T1000 with huge bumpers and 50 hp from a wheezer of an OHC 1.6l engine with full emissions control was completely horrid but sold well as it was a cockroach that always worked. Badly. Car and Driver once described it as America’s only third world car, made in rural Georgia. It had none of the style of the Vauxhall, Opel or Isuzu versions, and came standard with pre-faded GM paint. GM never got the hang of decent emissions-compliant small four cylinder engines in the ’70s, unlike Ford, Toyota, VW, Datsun, Honda, Volvo, BMW, Mitsubishi and Mazda. In fact, everyone else did better, much better.

    The other myriad Japanese “makes” GM sold besides Isuzus, Daniel, were in fact only Suzukis, nobody else. Roger “Robots are Best because they don’t get paid overtime” Smith, onetime CEO of GM was a clueless clot in handling both Isuzu and Suzuki sales in North America just as he was with everything else, but other GM execs just were just as inept on the subject as time went by.

    Suzuki didn’t buy Izuzu’s portion of the Subaru Isuzu Automotive factory in Indiana for $1 in 2003. Subaru did, of course, after Isuzu SUV sales fell on hard times:

    https://www.isuzu.co.jp/world/press/2002/p_1220.html

    No doubt you’ll later detail the Lotus Elan FWD sportscar of the ‘9os — it was essentially an Isuzu in disguise right down to the engine. Of course GM had interests in both outfits at the time, but not a clue as usual. The Isuzu Trooper was quite popular here but a rustbucket, unfortunately. Following an ’80s style square Audi 80, a friend bought a new Trooper — we used to joke he looked like a mini-man perched up on the driver’s seat in that huge square greenhouse. Good for toting cases of the specialty wine he imported, though. It paid its way.

    I’ve always considered Isuzu a bit more real than Suzuki, with sturdier and more deeply engineered products, but that’s just my impression.

    1. Good morning Bill. I must take issue with your comment that: “The other myriad Japanese “makes” GM sold besides Isuzus, Daniel, were in fact only Suzukis, nobody else.”

      You are incorrect: GM also sold two generations of the Toyota Corolla, assembled at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California as the GEO Prizm, from 1989 to 2002.

      Moreover, what I actually said was: “From 1989, Isuzu’s Gemini and Impulse models were sold in the US under GM’s newly established Geo division, which marketed a rather rag-tag collection of rebranded vehicles from different Japanese manufacturers.”

      Note my use of the word “different” which you replaced with “myriad”. I can only assume you did so to exaggerate what you incorrectly perceived to be my error. I am perfectly happy to be corrected on errors I will inevitably make from time to time, but I would be grateful if you didn’t put words in my mouth.

      Bill, it is difficult to see you as anything other than a ‘sniper’, sitting in the shadows and waiting to pounce when one of DTW’s contributors makes an error. We all write for the site voluntarily in our spare time and seek neither praise, fame nor other reward, just a little tolerance and understanding of human fallibility. Perhaps if you came out of the shadows and exposed yourself to criticism as we all do, you might learn a little empathy?

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