1,300 Mile Range! 1982 Isuzu I-Mark Diesel

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Here’s something you don’t see anymore, but maybe there’s a reason for that.. This 1982 Isuzu I-Mark Diesel is on eBay with a price of $1,350 or make an offer. Isuzu knows a thing or two about diesels, but they could never master the US car market. This car is super interesting to me, you just don’t see then anymore and they were once almost like a swarm of grasshoppers. Well, maybe they weren’t that common, but you’ll have a better chance of seeing a Shelby Cobra, or one of a million clones, then you’ll ever have of seeing one of these. And, for my money, it’s all about the odd and unusual, not the commonplace. I’m guessing that I’m in the vast minority on that, though.

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This car is listed by a seller named ibuyforsale, so I’m guessing they’re at least somewhat of a flipper of things. Of course, that’s neither here nor there (who says that anymore?!), and this car actually looks pretty nice! I mean, for a 34-year old Isuzu. This is a rear-wheel-drive car, so it’s got that going for it. The I-Mark was known as the Gemini but for North America it was called the “Opel by Isuzu” and then the “Buick Opel“, before finally settling on the Isuzu I-Mark in 1981. Since the seller doesn’t show what the grille looks like, I will.

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Well, of course it has the dreaded mandated bumpers, and there’s a trim issue on the right side. But, this probably isn’t a car that anyone would nut-and-bolt restore, they would get it working great and then drive it for 100,000 miles as a commuter car. Speaking of miles, after driving it for 100,000 miles it will have 294,000 on it, because it has 194,000 on it now. No worries, these diesel engines will go for many moons. This car has a feature that doubles the oddball’ness of it, if that’s even possible: it has a 30-gallon fuel tank in the trunk! I don’t know exactly why that is, but at the EPA rating of 45 mpg, that’s a driving range of over 1,300 miles! You’d better bring a few sandwiches with you.

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There’s the one thing that I would change, the automatic. The automatic version is supposedly good for a 0-60 time of around 15 minutes.. er.. I mean, seconds. It’s not a speed demon by any means, but at the time it was one of the fastest non-turbo diesel vehicles available. The interior, other than the dash cracks, looks pretty nice.  If a person knew about diesel engines, and they also liked unusual vehicles and had a long commute, this could be an interesting project.

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GM had a hand in these cars and in fact the diesel Chevette used this engine as did a couple of their pickups, not to mention being used by Opel and Holden. The early-1980s is when I really started to notice the car soup that was going on in the auto industry, with vehicles being brought over from other countries and rebadged as domestic makes. This Isuzu has a 1.8L four-cylinder diesel with 51 hp and 78 ft-lb of torque, not a lot of power but this car only weighs a ton. Well, a little more with that 30-gallon fuel tank, which would weigh 210 pounds by itself when it’s full. It’s like sneaking a friend into the drive-in via your trunk to have that much weight back there. Ha, as if anyone here has ever done that.. (crickets). I really like unusual cars like this one. I know that the majority of Barn Finds readers probably don’t have any interest in an Isuzu diesel car, but a few might, hopefully, or I’ve just wasted all of your time! Is this a car that any of you would tinker with and use as a commuter?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I have raced against one of these in the Austin Marina when we were running a dead-stock, very tired engine with almost no compression. It’s one of three cars I could pass in our first race (the others were a bad-running Pinto station wagon and a Simca, if you’re curious). That’s all I need to say…

    • Scotty G Staff

      Ha! I didn’t say that it was fast.. but who knew that it was that slow!

      I think Blyndgesser may be closer to the 0-60 time for the diesel automatic. I love it when 0-60 in 15 seconds is considered nippy!

  2. Blyndgesser

    The automatic is more like 25 seconds 0-60. The manual was a good bit nippier.

  3. jim s

    if it was easy/cheep to convert to a manual this would be a interesting project. the large fuel tanks would have to go. interesting find.

  4. Van

    I attended the ISUZU diesel training class.
    They set a Mercedes injector pump beside the “it’s a booboo”. The only difference was the isuzu looked better.
    These engines were expected to go 300,000 miles.
    The guys at the dealer were going to buy a diesel pick up 4×4 to go hunting.
    Not enough power to climb over the curb. The guys passed.
    Isuzu expected these to sell word wide so they used as few different size nuts and bolts as possible.
    The though was one box of tools in the African bush would get you home.

  5. Matt St

    They probably put the 30 gallon tank in there to run #2 heating fuel or bio-diesel. Honestly, who would think to look in the tank of that car?

  6. Bill

    I had a gas version I-mark, badged as a Chevy Spectrum (or Rectum depending who you asked) It was a slug, but i liked driving it. Good on fuel, though the auto trans was in tough shape. A bottle of trans fix and a teaspoon of brake fluid (don’t try this at home) gave it a few thousand more miles. I’d drive this. I’d even be tempted to do a cosmetic resto for show and shines. It would be fun to park next to the ‘Vettes.

  7. Rock On Member

    Dam you Joe Isuzu!

  8. B and A

    No waste of time at all for me, since i too have a weakness for the odd car.
    Keep them coming!!
    I think it´s european counterpart was the Opel Kadett C coupe, but they never sold them with diesel engines over here, as far as i know.

  9. Howard A Member

    I had early Opel’s and I never thought these were as good. Although they looked similar to the Kadett, they never seemed to catch on like the original Opels. Still needed a hatch, under powered. Probably good cars, and I’m sure the diesel out lasted the bodies 10 to 1. I don’t remember any Opel diesels, but I believe this motor was used in all kinds of applications. Cool find, but nothing special.

  10. AMCSTEVE

    Keep the oddballs coming!

  11. John K

    Back in college I had a diesel Chevette for about a year. Lord what a terribly slow car. I once was pulled over by a state trooper because I was going 45 in a 35. I had only achieved that velocity by flooring ti downhill into the 35 mph zone. A trooper caught me and began grilling me about the speed. I said I knew i was speeding but that this Chevette was a DIESEL and I didn’t floor it down the hill it would struggle getting up the next hill. He didn’t believe it was a diesel so he had me start it up. when he heard the krung-krung-krung of the engine he laughed (at me, not with me), said I had enough problems, and drove away. Absolutely true story.

    So… i guess this Isuzu has that going for it.

  12. Leon

    What’s up with the front driver wheel alignment ????

    • Kang

      That’s the spare tire, hiding what is probably a flat tire still on the car.

  13. Rain La Combe

    So I own a 1982 diesel I MARK SEDAN, it has 58,000 ish !miles. Documented miles, I am the second owner and love my summer car. She’s slow to get up to speed, but she runs very well once there. Automatic, no power steering and fabulous milage!

  14. Jeremy

    I actually had one of the
    1979 Buick/Opels around 1996, when I was 14, as (technically) my 1st car. My dad purchased it off my stepbrother for $400 as a fixer upper for me to swing a wrench on. It was a faded silver over black (vinyl!) 2 door fastback base model, 1.8 gas 4 cyl with a 4 on the floor, no A/C or power steering.
    It had been in the family since new and only had 79K miles on it at the time. It had some minor rust at the bottom front fenders and a couple other small places but was remarkably solid, and once it ran, I did indeed learn to drive in it on the backroads of southern Indiana.
    I most remember what a funky little car it was for the hidden fuel filler (under the trim piece behind the rear passenger window,) and the gas tank’s upright position in the trunk directly behind the back seat.
    Mine was victim of a seat failure at some point, and had a red Chevette seat for the front right seat. And although it was far from spritely or inspired, I loved the way buzzed along solidly, and I seem to remember it handled well, if not impressively. It was quirky and kinda fun. Regrettably, my dad forced its sale before I was offically licensed, because it needed “too much work.” It had taken a new carburetor, fuel pump, and 4 new 13″ blackwalls to get it running, and he wanted his investment back. If I had known what a rare bird it was I may have fought harder to keep it. If I could find a cheap good runner just like it today I might have it for the same reason. I’ve only seen 2 others in person, a black and silver sport coupe around the time I had mine and a beat down silver
    81 I mark a few years back.

    Like 1
  15. John Miller

    My first car was a 1982 Isuzu I-Mark Diesel with a 5 speed manual gearbox. It got fantastic fuel economy (59mpg, interstate), but was dangerously slow and grossly under-powered in naturally aspirated form. I once officially clocked it at 0-60 in 39.9 seconds, fully loaded with 4 passengers, and surfboards on the roof–simply because I could. With just a driver, I may have shaved off several seconds, but it was still the slowest street legal car I ever drove. In 3rd gear, revved to the redline, it could only muster 35mph, fully loaded with 3 passengers, climbing Afton Mountain in Virginia, and would summarily be passed by everything else on the road.
    I was nearly killed in this car in 1989 when I was “T-boned” by a woman in a stolen 1980s Chevrolet Celebrity at 60mph. The blow literally caved in the entire passenger side of that car, and pushed it into the right side of my body, as the car became airborne, and rolled twice, and came to rest on the roof in the intersection.
    Good times!
    The engine and gear box were wonderful. I have never seen fuel economy that came anywhere close to what this could deliver in any passenger vehicle, nor shall I again, in an ICE of any variety, I suspect.
    Prius: Eat your heart out.

    Like 1
  16. Seattle Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking Isuzu. I remember when the Isuzu I-mark was on the USA market. At the time I thought it was hideous to look at, but then again what the hell did I know? I was only 10 yrs old at the time. Today I find them more attractive than what’s being sold today.

  17. Jack

    I’m still driving my 1982 Isuzu I mark. 0-60 Mph in an afternoon! (with or without the AC) Wouldn’t trade it for anything. Currently has @ 115,000 miles on it, just getting broken in good. Can’t say as much for all the rubber molding as it’s shrunk over the years around all the windows. Best car I’ve ever owned and still getting great diesel mileage @ 45 mpg combined highway and mostly intown driving. Been through a few master brake cylinders and recently blew out the oil bypass tube but other than that nothing major as far as any repairs.

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