Weekly Treasure: 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS Turbo

Car Culture / Comments

Does this look familiar? It should.

Does anyone remember the old Geo Storm? Or the Geo brand, in general? To recap, back in 1989, Geo was started as a subdivision of Chevrolet, but it only lasted until 1997. Perhaps the most famous Geo model was the Tracker small SUV which continued to exist post-Geo as the Chevy Tracker for a number of years. Initially, it was a Jeep Wrangler fighter but it never achieved that desired status. Other Geo models included the Metro, Prizm, Spectrum, and Storm. All of them were rebadged versions of Japanese vehicles as part of joint venture agreements GM had with Isuzu, Suzuki, and Toyota.

At the time, the deals made sense as a younger generation of Americans desired smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. As a whole, Geo was unsuccessful, but that's not to say its lineup was all bad. It just wasn't well-suited for the US at large.

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The Geo Storm was a compact two-door coupe originally designed and built by Isuzu, though it rode on a GM platform. In markets outside of the US, it was known as the Isuzu Piazza but was sold in very limited numbers here as the Impulse. At first impression, this little coupe doesn't look like all that much. It's not a terrible design but it's also not particularly exciting. Appearances can be deceiving, however.

It had a Lotus-tuned suspension, an optional turbocharged 1.6-liter engine and all-wheel drive, and a manual transmission. Conveniently enough, GM owned Lotus at this time. Aside from Lotus' input, this AWD turbo setup complete with a manual can be found in certain other present-day fan favorites, the Subaru WRX and WRX STI. During the days of the Geo Storm and Isuzu Impulse, the WRX had yet to go on sale in the US.

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7 Outstanding Rotary Engine Swaps
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Despite fairly favorable reviews, the Storm and Impulse were discontinued for 1993. No successors arrived for either. Today, it's becoming less and less common to see an old Geo Storm on the road as most of them have long since been sent to the crusher. But what about the Isuzu Impulse?

Up for sale on Bring A Trailer is this 1990 Isuzu Impulse RS Turbo and despite its 104,000 miles, it's in excellent condition. It's only one of 600 examples sold in the US for 1991. Its Lotus influence is proudly displayed with badges inside and out.

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This example comes with the optional sport seats, power sunroof, windows and mirrors, and air conditioning. The original Panasonic cassette stereo still works, too. Also very appropriate for the time period are its pop-up headlights. Fog lights are also present, while another cool touch is the blue pinstripes. Total output comes to 160 horsepower, a totally respectable figure for a car that weighs a little under 2,300 pounds.

As of this writing, the highest bid was $4,500. Given its rarity, Lotus-tuned suspension, and overall solid condition, this Impulse RS Turbo AWD still has a lot of years of fun driving ahead.

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