January 01, 2001

One of the most fun aspects of visiting Pull-A-Part is the “treasure hunt” factor. Car buffs can easily spend an afternoon traversing each aisle of do-it-yourself salvage parts cars on display, inspecting each vehicle in search of an elusive trim level or rare optional equipment. Of course, the New On Yard search tool gives you a fast look at new arrivals, and a full-featured salvage vehicle inventory search is available on pullapart.com — but sometimes, it’s fun to just pop in for a visit and take a walk. Recently, a Notify Me alert sent Headquarters a text message announcing an unbelievable find: a 1990 Isuzu Impulse XS parts car at Pull-A-Part of Corpus Christi.

The second-generation Impulse succeeded its more recognizable forefather, an angular rear-wheel-drive touring car penned by Italian design maestro Giorgetto Giugiaro. The second Impulse traded Giugiaro’s geometric planes for a rounded theme intended to evoke a “space capsule”, with hidden door handles and flat decals instead of badging to keep every surface slick. Shiro Nakamura, then-head of design at Isuzu, penned the second-generation Impulse and a four-door cognate called the Isuzu Stylus. Later, Nakamura went on to lead design operations at Nissan, where he led design efforts for the Nissan 350Z and Nissan GT-R. Lotus loaned their expertise by tweaking the Impulse’s suspension, softening the dampers and increasing the spring rate to neutralize the front-wheel-drive chassis. In return, Isuzu loaned a turbocharged version of the Impulse’s four-cylinder engine for use in the Lotus Elan M100 convertible. Lotus and Isuzu enthusiasts come together at Isuzone.org, the Internet’s only community dedicated to the preservation of Isuzu’s last passenger cars.

This particular Impulse spotted at Pull-A-Part of Corpus Christi registered 292,297 miles on the odometer. Plenty of hard-to-find OEM spare parts could be found in good condition on this car, including power mirror switches, the instrument cluster, OEM aluminum wheels by Enkei, taillamps, interior trim pieces and the front bumper cover. Few realize that Isuzu had a long-running reputation as a specialty vehicle manufacturer, designing purposely limited-issue vehicles to test the company’s R&D resources. Isuzu never intended for the Impulse to be a best-seller. Today, registered Impulses (and Japanese-market Gemini Coupe, Piazza and Pa-Nero cognates) number in the hundreds worldwide. Thanks to Pull-A-Part and this donor car, at least one more Impulse will soldier on.