Project Update: Jeff’s 1986 Isuzu Trooper Project

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It’s been ages since I’ve provided an update on any of my project vehicles, and for that I apologize. A few things were happening, including a house move, the pending arrival of our second child, and of course, that lovely thing we call a pandemic. Still, my projects were still moving ahead in fits and starts, and the 1986 Isuzu Trooper seems to be the one that’s closest to being done for a spell, at least until I get the next wild hair across my ass to fix something that isn’t broken. I have to give a shout out to Art’s Complete Automotive in Jamestown, Rhode Island, as they have taken the Trooper under their wing and tackled lots of buttoning up that needed to happen. When I visited yesterday, they had the exceedingly rare ARB brush guard installed, with a row of classic KC Daylighter driving lamps mounted up – but that’s just one aspect of what they’ve been sorting out.

You’ll notice the wheels and tires are different than the last time you saw the Trooper, and that’s because with the two-inch lift kit from Calmini Products, we wanted to add some extra stability via a set of wheels with a lower offset. The new wheels are from Summit Racing, measuring 15 x 8 with a -19 offset, suiting the truck and the lift kit quite well. I had also grabbed a set of Addco sway bars but unfortunately found that the rear sway bar I was sent was incorrect – and that in the time that passed since I ordered them and realized it wouldn’t fit, the Trooper bars had gone out of production. Art’s shop foreman, an ingenious fellow named Jeff, is a Jeep fanatic and figured out that the rear sway bar from a XJ Cherokee would bolt up quite nicely. So, the Trooper has the Addco bar in the front and the Cherokee bar in the rear with custom brackets fabricated by Jeff.

One of the ongoing battles with the truck has been issues arising from the engine swap performed in Georgia to replace the locked-up original mill. This is to be expected, but we found more than a few issues. For one, I noticed that the throttle cable would jam up, causing the frightening scenario of the pedal sticking the floor. Because the cable wasn’t adjusted correctly, the throttle plate remained open – you can see where this is going. All necessary adjustments were made, and Jeff also addressed numerous vacuum leaks, a common issue when transitioning to an aftermarket carb like I have. The latest fix has been addressing the fuel, temperature, and oil pressure gauges that sit in the dash. When the engine was swapped, the wires between the senders for these gauges and the cluster itself was severed. Jeff sourced some VDO gauges that match the interior nicely, and are far less prone to failure than the original units with new all new wiring.

When the truck gets home (and in between caring for my soon-to-arrive newborn and our two-year-old), I hope to clean up the interior. Our very own Scotty G. grabbed a set of very cheap Recaros out of a junked Mustang Pace Car in Minnesota and will bring them east when he has a photo assignment in New England next. These will be reupholstered in the same pattern as the Pace Car, but in the rare “Caramel” colors to match the tan cockpit of the Trooper. I also sourced a factory rear bench that folds flat for sleeping purposes, and some minty rubber floor liners to replace the tired originals. Finally, if the Trooper is still ticking this time next year, I grabbed every piece of A/C equipment out of a low-mileage Trooper to replace the dead components in my truck so if we end up using it for beach trips next summer, the family will stay cool. While I’m undecided on how long the Trooper will remain in my care, I’m keen to get it home and log some actual miles soon – and make some new videos.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. angliagt angliagtMember

    Thanks for the update.

    Like 6
  2. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    Excellent update, Jeff! I’m looking forward to delivering the seats, which means that I can’t ride the Motocompo to Rhode Island as I had planned on doing (kidding).

    Like 0
  3. Chris LondishMember

    I’m glad you guys are using Aussie accessories over there the Jackeroo as we called it went through a few iterations before being discontinued due to the discontinuation of GMHs association with Isuzu, they are now a stand alone brand sold by their own dealer network, a mate of mine has just bought a new Isuzu MUX wagon with th 3 litre turbo diesel and seems quite happy keep up the good work Jeff and your part of the country is very attractive drove up the Atlantic east coast in 2018 so it will be great to get out in the Trooper

    Like 0
  4. BhoweMember

    Very nice. Thanks for the update

    Like 0
  5. Big_FunMember

    It’s always appreciated when staff posts updates of their rides. More, please.

    Thanks again.

    Like 0
  6. Matt

    Hey I am attempted to design a replica ARB bumper for a 1st gen trooper. I am working on a 3d model of the design so that the steel can be laser cut and bar work bent. Would you mind measuring the diameter of the bar work for me? I want to make sure I get the this design as close to the original as possible. Any additional measurements you could share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! – Matt

    Like 0
  7. Blake

    I just found this update. Is there an original piece on the acquisition and beginning of the project? I’m a huge first gen Trooper fan.

    Like 0

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