yay or nay?

Is This the Coolest Vintage Japanese SUV Out There…or Just the Ugliest?


March 13, 2020 Cars By
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It’s hard to find a more polarizing vehicle than the Isuzu Vehicross, an SUV built between 1997 and 2001. Well, it looks like it’s time to stoke the fires of that discussion once more, as perhaps the most pristine Vehicross we’ll ever find is up for auction on Bring a Trailer. It’s a 2000 Iron Man edition — which it helpfully spells out with a giant hood graphic — and it has only 10,000 miles.

Proponents of this Izusu will point out how the Vehicross was an off-road enthusiast’s dream. It was rugged and durable, with typical Japanese manufacturer build quality. It had advanced four-wheel-drive and body control systems that offered a ton of grip. It also had two doors, a big 3.5-liter V6, and Recaro seats, because…sure, why not? It’s unique. It’s rare. It should be an instant collectible.

But there’s one not-so-small issue with the Vehicross: it’s one of the ugliest SUVs ever made.

Izuzu went super-aggressive with the plastic body cladding, to the point where it covers practically half the vehicle, while titanium teeth on the small grille give the Vehicross a rabid bat vibe. There’s a definite reason its appearance remains “distinctive.”

As one would anticipate with a 20-year-old vehicle, this Isuzu Vehicross is not entirely perfect. There’s a chip on the windshield, and the timing belt needs replacement. Perhaps more worryingly, it’s also registered as non-operational and would need a new smog certificate in California.

For many, this Isuzu Vehicross would be a hard pass. For others, it will be everything they’ve ever wanted. One suspects enough enthusiasts are out there to make the bidding, already up to $9,100, interesting over the final days.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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