Home » Weird Yellow Things: 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS vs 1993 Banham X99

Weird Yellow Things: 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS vs 1993 Banham X99

Sbsd 4 3 2024
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Good morning, and welcome to another fun-filled Shitbox Showdown! Got some really special stuff for you today, and I hope you like the color yellow, because you’re going to see a lot of it. One of these cars you’ve probably heard of but haven’t seen for sale in quite a while; the other you probably haven’t, but if you’re a longtime reader, you know the place selling it.

But before we get to that, let’s check out yesterday’s results, although we probably don’t need to. A Buick Roadmaster, especially a wagon, especially a later model with the LT1, is just going to win. Doesn’t really matter what it’s up against.

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But is that really true? That’s something to keep in mind for future Showdowns – Roadmasters always win, but so do Saabs. And Honda Civics. I should try to find some of these perennial winners and pit them against each other, and see what you do with them.

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For today, however, we have other, weirder fish to fry, in the form of a limited-production Isuzu SUV with a face only a nurse shark could love, and a bizarre little kit car based on an old British econobox. Lots to talk about with these two; let’s dive right in.

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2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS – $2,200

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.5 liter dual overhead cam V6, four-speed automatic, AWD

Location: San Fernando, CA

Odometer reading: 204,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives but cuts out randomly

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Isuzu had a good long run of really cool SUVs: the Trooper in all its generations, the Rodeo and Amigo, the Axiom, and this weirdo, known as the VehiCROSS. It features a quad-cam V6, all-wheel-drive, and love-it-or-hate-it styling. Personally, I’m not a fan, but I’m glad it exists. We need more oddball car designs. Isuzu used ceramic stamping dies to build the VehiCROSS – they’re cheap to make, but don’t last very long, perfect for short production runs. Fewer than 6,000 VehiCROSSes were built.

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Mechanically, it’s a parts-bin special, stealing drivetrain and chassis components from the Trooper. It’s a body-on-frame truck, with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that apparently works very well off-road. The short wheelbase and minimal overhangs help as well. This one is a mixed bag condition-wise; it runs well, and the air conditioning even works, but it cuts out randomly. The seller isn’t specific about whether it just cuts out for a second, or conks out and has to be restarted.

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It’s generally in good condition cosmetically. The leather seats have some wear and tear, but that’s to be expected north of 200,000 miles. Outside, the clearcoat is peeling, but it’s straight and rust-free.

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Whatever you think of these things, because of its rarity, it’s bound to be a collector’s item eventually. And this is about the cheapest one I’ve ever seen for sale. The stalling/cutting out problem can’t be that hard to fix, and the commonality with Trooper parts should make it easy to find what you need.

1993 Banham X99 – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.4 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, FWD

Location: Nashville, TN

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Odometer reading: 34,000 miles

Operational status: Doesn’t run, and needs suspension work

Banham Conversions was a British company that made kit cars for many years. Banham’s cars included Porsche replicas based on rear-engine Skodas, an Austin-Healey Sprite replica based on the Austin Metro, a front-wheel-drive Ford RS200 replica based on an Austin Maestro, and this car, the X99, which was based on a later Rover Metro and is absolutely in no way a replica of an Audi TT. Or at least, that’s what Banham said, before Volkswagen AG took them to court over the resemblance. How does such an odd little British kit car find its way to Nashville? It’s part of the Lane Motor Museum‘s collection.

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The Metro used to build this X99 was apparently a GTi model, owing to the twincam K-series engine under the hood. This engine puts out right around 100 horsepower to the front wheels, which must move this little car right along – I imagine it weighs less than a stock Metro GTi. The listed 1993 model year confuses me a little, because Banham didn’t start selling the X99 kit until 1999. My guess is 1993 is the model year of the donor Metro.

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This car doesn’t run at the moment, and the funky Hydragas suspension needs some work. Rover Metro parts are thin on the ground here, but I’m sure everything you could possibly need to fix up this car is just an internet search away.

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Luckily, the body and interior appear to be in good shape. And yeah, it looks quite a lot like an Audi TT, but I bet if you parked them side-by-side, you would have no trouble telling them apart. I’m a little surprised that the Lane is letting this go, and for so cheap, frankly. It looks like a great little project for the right person. Hell, if the timing were different, that person might be me.

Both of these need some love, but I think they both deserve it. The price of admission is fair enough on both, and neither one should be too difficult to deal with. And either one would turn heads at a car gathering, especially with the screaming yellow paint. So which one will it be?

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(Image credits: Craigslist seller and Lane Motor Museum)

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Thomas Bell
Thomas Bell
7 days ago

How much to ship that Vehicross to Ohio (seriously)? could we get David Tracy to drive it out to me?

JDE
JDE
8 days ago

Always liked the weird little Isuzu Vampire. That one is cheap enough and sounds to be running badly enough to start making a modded crawler out of it. S.A.S. wound be a nightmare, but fun.

David Claycomb
David Claycomb
8 days ago

I had a 2000 Amigo that was pretty reliable. A couple of issues are inherent with the 3.5 of this year, however. It was discovered that the holes in the oil piston rings were too small. How did they discover this? Owners complaining about excess oil consumption. I ran into this with my Amigo also. The solution was to pour some Seafoam into the crankcase and drive for a bit before an oil change. Using Rotella 15w40 diesel oil was also recommended. I used to do both and most of the consumption went away.

Another common issue with this year was the intake manifold gasket. The engine would develop an erratic idle and a code reader would give you a ‘misfire on cylinder 2′ code. The forum people would tell and show you how to change the gasket without having to remove any fuel injection stuff.

There was one of these Vehicross’ for sale a couple miles away from me about 10 years ago. I was in my silver Amigo when I spotted it. It was the same silver as mine and I stopped for a look. Surprisingly the door was unlocked so I opened the door and took a seat. It was the same exact interior that I had just stepped out of. Even the seat upholstery was the same. They both had the cloth seats with the pattern that looked like an Indian blanket. Even though I kind of liked it, I couldn’t see the point of buying a vehicle that had the same interior that I already had.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
8 days ago

The VehiCROSS is one of the ugliest cars ever made! (In my opinion)
I would vote for any other car besides that no matter how rusty/broken.
That Banham is a neat little car, I didn’t know they existed. For $2500?
I want it now!

Jon Benet
Jon Benet
8 days ago

Love all the Isuzu content lately.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
8 days ago
Reply to  Jon Benet

It’s all downhill in a hurricane from here.

NAMiata
NAMiata
8 days ago

How much for the Fiat 850 next to the Banham, and can I vote for it?

Kody Dagley
Kody Dagley
8 days ago
Reply to  NAMiata

A man after my own heart – take your happy face. Rear-engined FIATs ftw!

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