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Mahogany gem - my 1989 Trooper build "UZU"

888 Views 3 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  cmf5
Figured I'd consolidate some of my other posts and photos into one build thread for my maroon 1989 Trooper. It's definitely a gem. It's always been a California car. Straight chassis. No (I mean zero) rust.

The story with this Trooper is interesting. I picked this up in March of 2022 (new member thread) as a third car/dedicated camping rig from a nice guy in southern CA. The truck has a salvage title, but no accident history. Story goes it was donated to charity early on in its life by the first owner - but the charity never really gave it to someone in need, so it sat, unused, hence the low mileage. Previous buyer purchased it with 50k on it in 2011, and put 40k on in the next eleven years. When I bought it it had 94k on it.

It has HD torsion bars from Independent4x, an Old Man Emu rear leaf kit, and Old Man Emu shocks. It sits about 2" higher than stock. Tires are 31x10.5 R15 LTs. It had mud terrains on it when I bought it, but switched all five over to less-gnarly ATs from Falken. Definitely noticeable on the freeway.

Between the last owner and I, a lot of work has been done to get this guy back to his former glory: around 90k, the timing belt, timing belt tensioner, water pump, clutch, master and slave cylinders, rear main seal, ignition cap, rotor, spark plugs, plug wires, coil, fuel filter, serpentine belts, fan clutch, and one set of rear passenger door hinges were replaced. When I got it, some of the first things I did was get a new battery, redo the battery cable terminals, & do an oil change. At 95k, four months after I bought it, the head gasket blew (thread here) and I subsequently replaced the following: radiator (old one was leaky), did a coolant flush, upper and lower radiator hoses, heater core hoses (all four), some vacuum lines, spark plugs (again), intake manifold gaskets, exhaust manifold gaskets, and smog pump air rail. For the head gasket repair itself, I got the head (casting #3) redone with a full valve job, new valve seals, re-machined the surface, used a Fel-Pro gasket, and machined the exhaust manifold down flat. Machine shop said the head was one of the best 4ZE1 heads he's seen. Some other random repairs done around the same time was a new IAC valve (bad cold idle), a new driver's side headlight (the one on the truck was rusted out when I got it, a common failure), most interior bulbs, the turn signal flasher, turn signal housings (one was cracked), muffler (old one was rusting out from the inside), and windshield wipers.

When I got the truck, the rims were spray-painted black and very ugly. Got them blasted and powder coated gunmetal grey (technically Prismatic's "Boltz Grey" for anyone curious) and it definitely improved the look and made it more unique and special to me. I like the OEM+ look and didn't want to buy aftermarket. (thread)

Some other upgrades have been a master battery disconnect solenoid as to help when diagnosing some parasitic drain (thread), a wonderful Jerry cam, auto locking to Aisin manual hubs, a new stereo head unit, some Hella 6" driving lamps, a period-correct 1989 Momo Super Indy wood steering wheel, and a Mishimoto wood shift knob to match.

It's been a blast to "restore." There's always something new to fix, and it's been such a fun truck to learn new things on. The head gasket repair was my first time being that deep in a motor, and I learned a lot. This forum has been a fantastic resource and I'm so happy to be here!

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Current project is getting the driver's side quarter panel back to good shine. It faded way worse than the rest of the Trooper, but some compound helped bring it back to life.

Here's a good image that shows how bad it was originally:
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That is a beautiful Trooper, certainly a survivor. I love that you kept the steelies and "modernized" them a little-- good look
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I know this is extremely common in the automotive world, but I still love that my ‘89 was built in late ‘88. I wonder about when Isuzu specifically switched production to the new model year each year.
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