Jeff’s Junkyard Finds: 1986 Isuzu Trooper Rescue!

As many of our readers now know, I have a slight addiction to rescuing vehicles from salvage yard-type environments. At last count, of the five projects I own, three of them have literally been pulled from a salvage yard (with one being a legitimate barn find – the Euro-spec BMW 320). This latest one comes from the same property as my 1980 Toyota HiAce project and the large Georgia collection we’ve listed as a Barn Finds Exclusive. I present to you, my 1986 Isuzu Trooper two-door! 

The Trooper was parked at my friend’s place about ten years ago as a running vehicle. Obviously, it didn’t move much, and it was snared in some massive brush and trapped by a tree that sprang up in the meantime. The Trooper is an early model, which means it has round headlights instead of rectangles and is a two-door, which is somewhat hard to find. Most importantly – especially for a northern fella like myself – there’s not a spec of rust on it. Anywhere. Of course, the motor is a somewhat notorious 4-cylinder with a tendency to blow head gaskets, but that’s a story for another time.

The Trooper exited its brambly prison a few months ago, but only recently left my friend’s property. As you can see, the paint is quite tired, the tires were flat, and there’s years’ worth of debris caked into every surface. Fortunately, those blemishes are only skin deep, and the awesome period 4WD graphics are well preserved. This is a lifelong Georgia Trooper, bought in Marietta and only moving between there and Blue Ridge, according to its CarFax report. You can find out more insights as to why I’m saving this Trooper in the video below.

The Trooper recently received a fresh set of tires and some repainted Isuzu steel wheels I found in a junkyard in Connecticut. I shipped them to my in-laws’ and had them mounted to the largest set of tires I’ve ever bought. Just having this Trooper riding on some off-road friendly rubber is a marked improvement, and I’ve since found a shop in Georgia that is willing to help bring the Trooper back to life. I’ll be documenting it once work gets going on the project, but be sure to check out the video for more of my thoughts on this latest junkyard rescue, and follow me on Instagram for other vehicular musings.

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  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Looks like a cool find, Jeff. Troopers were popular in NZ as Japanese cast-offs and there are still plenty around, today, as are spares for these rugged machines.

    Look forward to seeing your updates.

    I miss the joys of finding a vehicle residing in a back yard or paddock that’s not totally rotted out. Misspending my youth in SoCal really spoiled me…

    Like 2
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Thank you! Hard to find anything like this these days, for sure, esp that’s a relatively “fun” vehicle to own. Glad to have given this one a closer look.

  2. Jbp

    These we had many of here in Europe. They where rust buckets. And the diesel models where done after ca 150-200,000 km. Nissan and Toyota 4×4 is so much better. If your car has 0 rust, its almost a mirakel. Good luck 😎

    Like 1
  3. Olaf E

    Love these Isuzu’s. Great that the original graphics are still there!

    Like 1
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      The graphics are what did it. I couldn’t resist once I saw those.

      Like 1
  4. SPAIS

    The blue 86 Trooper is a gem. I have seen a lot of these truck, and rarely do I see a blue 86. That makes it even more rarer, to me anyways. The Trooper is a pretty solid truck. I have an 88. It’s a Frankenstein rig that was rebuilt from parts off other trucks. Enjoy your find.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Thank you!

  5. aribert

    If your Trooper has the same engine as the late ’80s Isuzu, the problem tends to be a cracked head. Casting number, found on the rear end of the head and will give you an idea if the head has been replaced. Perusing old threads on will give insight on casting numbers (later heads corrected this problem), aftermarket heads, etc.

  6. Willie Morris

    I have a 91 Trooper I restored about 10 years ago. 2.8L GM motor in that one. Just finishing up a rust free 87 with the 2.3L Isuzu motor in it. Your find looks great and the 2 door Long Wheel Base Troopers are getting hard to find. For help Factory Service Manuals are available on EBay and intelligent help from the die hard Zu community is available at I’ve found both invaluable in restoring and servicing these trucks. Good luck with yours!

  7. Adam

    I have 1989 trooper. Slow as anything but never got it stuck in the muck or snow. I really need to get that running again.

    Like 1

    Cool find. Always neat to find something like this and improve it by 80% with a trip to the car wash. Then little things like tires and a little work make a huge difference. Good for you

  9. Karl

    I owned an 86 trooper 4 cylinder 5 speed manual, it was used in my company and as a personal vehicle. Engine and drive trail we’re solid, the auto locking hubs rather questionable but you learned to live with it biggest issue on this vintage range was rust, after a few years it was a yearly fight. Biggest weak point of the vehicle!

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Yup, to the point that I’ve only seen one in a northeast junkyard. That’s how obliterated they are from the roads.

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