Orphaned Brand Hot Hatch

The Volkswagen GTI started the hot hatch craze in the early 80s, and just about every OEM (except Ford in the US market?) played the game at some point.  Maybe Ford is making up for that today with its ST and RS products.  Anywho, Isuzu was a hot hatch player back in the day (you know, when they actually made cars) and this I-Mark RS was among the rarest and most interesting of the breed.  After all, who doesn't want a turbo and Lotus-tuned suspension in their hot hatch?



Sure, 110 horsepower might not sound like much, but it's damn fun in a car that weighs a bit over 2,000 pounds.  Add in cool touches like the Lotus-tuned suspension and Recaro seats to hold you in place and you have a winning formula.  Sure, the 1989 version had higher peak horsepower (125), but this 1988 version puts out almost 20 more lb-ft of torque at lower RPM.  That likely equates to more fun as a daily driver.  The looks are pretty subtle for the era, but the car does have the obligatory monochrome parts and aero bits; so,if you buy this, you won't blend in with all the base I-Marks no one sees on the road today.

Honestly, when did you last see any Isuzu car product (not SUV) on the road?

The seller claims this example has about 95K original miles, has cold AC and pulls hard when on boost.  Further, he or she is quite responsive to eBay questions, which is generally a good sign.  If you need cheap, economical transportation for a lot less than any new car and want it to be unique, this could be the car for you.  Perhaps some stealth upgrades could get even more power and torque out of this little 1.5-liter SOHC four (only the 1989 had the DOHC 1.6L).

Click for eBay ad
Temecula, CA, USA
$4,450 with 14 bids and 2 days to go


What's not to love here?  Monochrome front end and period alloys on what would otherwise be a shitbox.  That's heaven to us.  The good news is Isuzu's design was a good starting point.


Rear wing and rear valence are just right for this little pocket rocket - all in body color, of course.  Window sticker with engine spec appears to be stock, as we've seen it on others.


Yep, there's that famous badge!  Surely it's worth four horsepower, like a Stillen decal on a Nissan.


Interior looks great too our eyes - simple and functional, but not outwardly cheap.  The wheel is sufficiently sporty and the accordion shifter is expected for the period.


Of course, the seats jump out as something special.  The Recaro name is good to see, but the bolsters appear to be great.  The netting-filled head restraints are classics.


The wheels is even leather-wrapped and the car features a full set of gauges, unlike some hot hatches.  Perhaps all these details led to a high price and that's why so few of these were sold...


Here's the tiny 'n mighty 1.5L, turbocharged, inline four.  This appears to be bone stock, which is surely rare today.  It's clean enough for proud hood-popping at Cars and Coffee, too.

Ad text:

1988 Isuzu RS Turbo with handling by Lotus. YES, very rare car. Do your homework.

5 speed, Turbo, factory Recaro seats. Low mile car kept inside in a collection. Very clean.

Back in the 80's there was a competition to see who had the best "hot hatch." To compete with the VW GTI Isuzu took their small i Mark and built a very special car.  This included a turbo engine with a 5 speed, full instrumentation with a turbo boost gauge, leather wrapped steering wheel, special larger wheels and tires, factory Recaro seats like the GTI, monochrome paint with spoilers and side skirts, and the real topping was they had Lotus engineer the suspension install, and badge the side. I have never seen another. They are out there, but rather rare. And rare is one as clean and low miles as this one. Drives good and pulls strong when up on boost. Sets you back into those custom Recaros. This car has the coldest air conditioning I have ever felt in any car. I always have a crowd looking at it in the parking lot, as they wonder what it is.

Car is titled, registered and passes smog here in Southern California. Can store it here while you find a shipper. Sold as-is please. No complaints or regrets. Ensure this is the one you want.

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