March 24, 2009

Isuzu Trooper

A little history

Isuzu broke into the then-burgeoning market of what we today call “SUVs” in 1981, thanks to the Trooper, a large and squarish part-time four-wheel-drive station wagon available in both two- and four-door versions. Though there was nothing particularly exciting about it, a character the car would retain throughout its life, it sold rather well, particularly in the United States where SUVs were slowly becoming fashionable. Furthermore, in a superb demonstration of badge-engineering, a field in which General Motors had become a master, Isuzu produced the Trooper for a variety of other manufacturers around the world.

In 1987, the little originality the car could had on the outside was wiped out by some folk with a pencil who drew five squares figuring the grille, the headlights and the turn signals – Isuzu called such a bold move a “facelift”. Four years later, the original Trooper was gone… but replaced by a new Trooper, larger and more powerful than the previous one, but as bland externally. Engines, which all felt until then within the 2- to 3-litre bracket, were now all above the 3-litre mark – once again, Isuzu had the American market in mind. On the other hand, the new Trooper retained the part-time 4WD transmission of its predecessor, which necessitated a full stop in order to engage the front axle.

The second-generation Trooper received two facelifts in 1997 and 2000, and these proved much more tasteful than the 1987 mess. Nonetheless, increased competition, the relative lack of interest from struggling GM towards Isuzu (which would ultimately end with the company complete withdrawal from the lucrative North American market) and nasty rumours about the car’s safety records all conspired against the Trooper. In Europe where it was sold as the Opel (or Vauxhall) Monterey, the car’s career was equally inglorious. Therefore, production was suspended in 2003 without a direct successor, though the car remained available for a few more years on some specific markets.

About the model

Model: Isuzu Bighorn Plaisir
Year: 2000
Maker: Rakachi
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Rakachi (Japanese market only)
Acquired: brand new, in December 2006, in Hong Kong, S.A.R.

“Aganus Jam - Rakachi”, spells the box. I identified the maker as “Rakachi”, but I’m still at a loss about what “Aganus Jam” refers to. This very box is rather funny, for the company has mimicked the style and the lettering used by Minichamps. The comparison stops here, though. Rakachi’s scale model of a Bighorn – a Trooper but in name – is rather crude, and for me is more reminiscent of Cararama than of any high-end industrial die-cast makers. The outside mirrors and the dashboard are simply hideous. Anyway, the model is rather original, and I paid it a fair price (about four and a half euros, quite a bargain). I won’t give more than 8/20 to it, however.



1 comment:

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