Live Auctions

Cheap Wheels: 1990 Isuzu Impulse XS

In a busy field of small, imported sport coupes, the Isuzu Impulse was never a major player. But it was a capable little car whose online faults seem to relate to them being noisy but not bad autos. According to the seller, only 200 of the 9,000 Impulse XSs sold new are still around and he’s only selling it because the vehicle recently quit running and he doesn’t want to fool with it. In Malden, Massachusetts, the seller has set a low price of $1,000 here on craigslist to make it go away as quickly as possible.

An all-new Isuzu Impulse was introduced in 1990, a front-wheel-drive 2+2 hatchback that shared its structure with the subcompact Isuzu Stylus sedan. At the time, General Motors partly owned Isuzu; a similar sport coupe, called the Geo Storm, went to Chevrolet dealers. The seller’s car is the XS edition which came with a sport suspension tuned by Lotus (the British sports-car maker, also owned by GM), 4-wheel disc brakes, power steering, and 185/60HR14 tires. Its 1.6-liter, DOHC 4-cylinder engine produced 125 horsepower.

According to the seller, he/she was driving along at 125,000 miles the other day and it died while in motion. The Impulse functions in accessory mode and the fuel pump primes, but it won’t crank to start. It recently passed its state inspection, meaning it didn’t need anything important until it suddenly gave up the ghost. We’re told it was a nice running machine back in the day and the seller was planning to restore the black-on-black automobile, but life gets in the way and that’s no longer in the cards.

The photos provided were largely taken at dusk, so it’s hard to gauge the condition of the body and paint. The interior looks really good, and the seller is throwing in all the spare parts he’s accumulated. Perhaps this will be an easy fix and – then again – maybe it will be a painful one. But for $1,000, it’s hard to argue the point. This could be an ideal purchase for one of the other 199 people who own one of these cars.


  1. Bob C.

    I like the older one Joe Isuzu drove in the commercial better. The one where he caught the bullet with his teeth?

    Like 5
    • Rumpledoorskin

      Faster than a, well, you know.

      Like 3
  2. DanTheCarNut

    The seller is doing the right thing. He has 2 better cars seen in the background a 1980s MR2 & a 1980s Honda Prelude or Accord in the garage. Best of luck with the sale.

    Like 3
  3. Connecticut omark

    Timing belt?

    Like 4
    • Doone

      Ground strap

      Like 7
  4. ricky

    Owned a red 1990 Geo Storm. Amazing car that could run 85 all day long and get 40 MPG. Bought it used, gave it to the wife. Kept it 5 years then gave it to a niece who drove it another 4 years. Never replaced anything but tires and batteries. I’m 6’2″ and fit in it just find. There were plenty for sale not that long ago. Very rare to see one now.

    Like 1
  5. CCFisher

    These were invisible when new and even more so now. Personally, I prefer the styling of the Geo Storm, even if the name makes it sound like it’s raining rocks.

    Like 2
  6. CaptainObvious

    Too bad it’s an automatic. A manual would make this much more appealing.

    Like 1
  7. Martin

    They were more like 140 or 145 hp. A cam change at one point raised the peak hp a little. These were very fast and under appreciated cars. I had one that I commuted an hour in and coming home off my night shift I would do an honest 125 mph for 30 minutes, night after night. I liked it so much that I later bought one and turned it into a race car. But oil starvation would eat the rear main bearing under heavy cornering and parts got more and more difficult to find. But it would rev to the moon and I was always first out of the corner.

    Like 2
  8. Dave Peterson

    Better car than was known. The whole instrument panel tilted with the steering, didn’t it?

    Like 1
  9. joenywf64

    Some Geo Storms
    also had these peculiar partially hidden headlites.
    Why not hide the entire headlite(s). Silly IMO.

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