ChrIsuzu – A 26-year-long Surprise Love Affair [part 1]

My 1984 Isuzu i-Mark

My brand-new 1984 Isuzu I-Mark diesel.

The story of how I came by this wonderful machine really begins with its predecessor, a 1976 AMC Pacer, but to explain how I came to own that car, I’d have to go into what happened to its predecessor, a 1969 Mustang, so we’ll leave it at that for now.

The fact is, I was in need of a new car, and a co-worker had just purchased one of these and worked out a good deal with the salesman, and he thought I’d be able to get the loan with my trade-in allowance, etc.

It seemed like a good move for me at the time (remember this is 1984 and I’m in my early 20’s) — I needed a car, and a new one would be nice; I needed to get a credit history going, and my job seemed stable enough to at least last the length of the car loan. When I test drove it the first time, i was really impressed by how it felt and handled.

The second test run was the night I signed all the papers and drove away in it — the dash and panel lights, the way the headlights shone, the way the park and running lights looked…all convinced me that I would at least not be that unhappy while I paid off the loan so I could trade up to my “real” car (whatever that would reveal itself to be).

"ChrIsuzu 1985 road trip"

1985: My brother Bill and I showing off our new wheels in front of our Dad's house.

There was absolutely no way I would have known at that point, or for several more months that this would turn out to be my “real car”!

A 4-cylinder diesel car wasn’t particularly sexier in 1984 than it is today, and Isuzu discontinued the consumer passenger diesel line after this production year. Not a jack-rabbit off the starting line, or a fast-climber on inclines, either, I suppose I can understand how it didn’t compete with the other mid-80s consumer conveyances.

Fast-acceleration-issues aside, I very quickly became enamored by its increasing good-fit for me. Every time I got behind the wheel, it just felt a little more right. Besides, a fast-moving car on the freeways, streets and by-ways of Los Angeles would have just be a bad, short-lived idea for me in those days. Plenty of room in the front and back seats, and a surprisingly roomy trunk for a vehicle of its relatively tiny size. It even turned out to be comfortable enough to sleep in on several occasions (not the trunk, of course, but the front seats reclined nicely even with the seat position set back).

Look for more on the ChrIsuzu in upcoming posts…


  • Stolen and Returned – Bullwinkle Testifies!
  • California From Your Car – The Book That Wasn’t
  • 250,000 Miles! Return Trip From The Moon

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