Wednesday’s Question of the Day at TTAC was “What’s your automotive guilty pleasure?” Taking “guilty pleasure” to mean “Yes, I enjoyed it, and yes, I know it sucks,” I figure I can probably reveal mine, which I did rather like, and which by almost any definition sucked out loud.
Nineteen eighty-one. The last thing the world needs is an alternative Chevette, right? But in that year I got some seat time in an Isuzu I-Mark, the Japanese flavor of the global GM T-body, and it was loads more fun than my one Chevette experience a few years later. For one thing, Isuzu’s assembly seemed a tad less slipshod, and nothing felt like it was ready to fall off. Then again, the I-Mark, fitted with Isuzu’s 1.8-liter diesel four with all of 51 ponies, probably couldn’t get up enough speed to shake anything loose, although it did idle like a Keurig stuffed with Legos. As is my wont with underpowered cars, I drove the living whee out of it for the day I had it, and while there were a couple of anxious moments on the Broadway Distention, geez, when aren’t there anxious moments on the Broadway Distention? The shifter snickety-snicked nearly as well as the five-speed in my Toyota Celica, and I spent about twenty seconds in the back seat just to see if it was possible to spend twenty seconds in the back seat, which it wasn’t in the Celica unless you represented the Lollipop Guild.
Buick had been selling these cars for a couple of years as Opels, to make up for the real Opels that the General wasn’t bringing in anymore; I suspected at the time that Isuzu had been instructed to make them a bit more plush, or a bit less unplush, than the Chevys would be. Nothing came of this experience, of course, and I was still driving the Celica a dozen years later, but to this day there are times when I slide into my Large Automobile and remember what it was like behind the wheel of a smaller one.