1976 Vintage R&T Review: Buick Opel by Isuzu – Once You Get Past the Name It’s Not a Bad Car

When the weakening dollar made the German Opel 1900/Manta too expensive to import anymore, GM looked to its affiliate in Japan for the replacement. The Isuzu Gemini was of course essentially an Opel Kadett C, although with a totally different drive train and a number of other changes. R&T’s conclusion is foregone: it’s not a bad car, but it’s not quite it’s predecessor either. But then the comparison is a bit skewed.

The Opel 1900 (Ascona) and Manta were in a class above the Kadett, so to start with, it’s a bit of apples and Japanese plums. So yes, the Opel by Isuzu is not quite as competent and refined in some of the details. But there’s no denying that it was well built, like all Japanese cars of the time.

I first shot and wrote up the Isuzu version, the I-Mark, way back in the early days (2009), a diesel. And although it looks like hell now, almost ten years later I still see it once in a while.

I last shot it in 2015 (above), but I saw it again just a week or so ago, looking even worse for wear, but still clattering along and trailing a small cloud of black smoke.