Near Extinct: 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS

From the archives of 1980s hot hatches comes one of its more surprising contenders: the Isuzu I-Mark RS. Packing a Lotus-tuned suspension, Recaro seats, factory body kit and a slick-shifting manual transmission, these were formidable packages back in the day but damn near impossible to find now. This example here on eBay has an opening bid of $1,750 and no reserve listed. 

What’s most incredible to me is that this car is largely stock. I don’t mind the peeling clearcoat and torn Recaro seats; just finding one that hasn’t been boy-racered to death or otherwise beaten into the ground is a miracle. These were fairly unique cars among a crowded field of hot hatches, especially considering how small Isuzu was compared to competing offerings from the likes of Toyota and Volkswagen.

The fact that the seller is adamant that the RS is rust-free is reason enough to look closely if you’ve been hunting for one of these, and he mentions some significant recent maintenance including a fresh headgasket. The seller does note, however, that the struts are cooked and the A/C doesn’t work. There’s also a faulty fuel regulator to deal with, which can have some pretty annoying drivability implications depending on the severity of the issue.

Engine-wise, these DOHC 16V motors were literal screamers, with a lofty 7,800 RPM redline and otherwise somewhat gutless around town. That’s OK; these weren’t intended to be city-living torque monsters but backroad carving, rapid-shifting pocket rockets. Considering Isuzu also offered the Impulse Turbo around the same time, it’s sad to think this company is virtually extinct on our shores with the exception of its commercial trucks division.

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Comments

  1. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    You’re killin’ me, Jeff. This is one rare l’il bugger, very cool.

    • JohnT

      Hey Scotty G, Check out the first generation straight-6 Chevy Nova posted by your colleague Jeff Bennett this past Friday and YES, it’s got a 3-on-the-tree! Too bad the asking price is sky high.

  2. Rock On Member

    So good that it even scared Porsche’s!
    https://youtu.be/e_azX7exAZs

    • Daniel

      The man Joe Isuzu!

  3. TriPowerVette

    Isuzu never made anything I wanted, but they built good, quality equipment. It’s a shame there wasn’t room for them in the American marketplace. It’s true, their drivetrain was outstanding, for a particular purpose. They just never wrapped it in a package that not only took advantage of it, but that the market could perceive as a viable option, in sufficient quantities.

    The ’70’s and ’80’s were tough on a lot of car makers. Too tough on some, not tough enough on a lot of others. Mostly tough on consumers.

    • Daniel

      I owned a 2001 Chevy S10, loved it, does this count?

  4. Mike Super Sport

    Loved these when they came out. I couldn’t afford a new car then though. Haven’t seen one in a long time.

  5. Jim in AL

    I could never understand how a company with GM majority ownership managed to create a car that could be mistaken for a Ford Escort GT.

  6. Joe

    Big Odometer Problem!! No miles for 28 years then accumulates 6K miles in 7 months in 2017. Come on!!!

  7. Paul

    In 89 I was leaving Grad School and was going to upstate New York as a contractor at IBM. I wanted this car. I looked for one in Kansas and Missouri before leaving. And in New York when I got there. There were none to be had. I ended up getting talked into an Impluse Turbo.

    It was ok, I would rather have had this.

  8. Rich

    I had this car in black and it was great fun to drive. Expensive to repair but luckily just as I was about to pop for a 3rd clutch (San Francisco isn’t easy on clutches, btw) I drove down to San Diego and within 24 hours someone stole the car. I suspect it went right over the border. Sometimes things just work themselves out…”hi Geico I’d like to report a missing car…”

  9. Jody

    Feel sorry for whoever buys that basket case. That’s a 500$ get it outta my yard deal. $1750 your smoking something good…. Good luck finding one for parts other than online and it will be next to impossible to find an RS. I Drove one new, all I had to do was sign the zero down paperwork, but my girl at the time, wasn’t into it at all, this isn’t a sports car, why are these seats so rigid and firm, what’s a Recaro etc…

    She was a lame piece of ass too…Italian women seem to be only good looking and that’s about it…from my experiences…lol

  10. carsofchaos

    No sale at $1750

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