Project Isuzu VehiCross: Part 5, Bodywork Round 1

by David Zipf

With four project installments of our Project VehiCross, you would expect we would have done something insane to it.  After all most MotoIQ projects don’t stay stock very long and so far the only aftermarket parts this truck has seen are an air filterbrake pads, and tires.  After ranting and raving about how terrible replacing a power steering hose on a VehiCross is, we promised we would start putting on some sweet aftermarket parts.

We lied.
Ok, we really were planning on adding some aftermarket parts to this truck.  We even have some sitting in the garage right now, ready to go on.  And then this happened.
On a dark and rainy night, we got rear ended by a teenager who was still learning how to drive.  Luckily, our Isuzu is relatively high up, and the other car, a Chevy Malibu, ended up going under the bumper and hitting our conveniently placed skidplate.  The Chevy took the majority of the damage.  We got off quite lucky, with just a few chunks taken out of our bumper and tailgate claddings.  Upon closer inspection, the bottom of the tailgate was also hit and bent inwards.  But overall the damage was very minor to our Isuzu.  This is in contrast to the Malibu that can only be best described as “totalled.”  Thankfully, nobody was injured.  While repairing the crash damage, we decided to do a little sprucing up inside and out to try and get the rest of the truck to match our new bumper.
The top half shows the damage to the mounts of the tailgate cladding.  The impact also slightly bent the bottom of the back door, but not badly enough to warrant a replacement.  The bottom half shows the top view of the bumper cover.  As you can see, it held up well, but also required replacement.

We sourced a used replacement rear bumper and tailgate cover from a forum user.  Many will be asking why used?  Simple: New parts would look too nice.  Brand new bumpers would be shiny and new and wouldn’t match the faded plastic on the rest of the truck.  We want to simply pretend this accident never happened, so used, slightly faded plastic it is!  As for the tailgate, I wanted to avoid a paint shop as much as possible, as this would take away my only means of transportation for at least a few days.  The tailgate is easily repaired and the plastic is easy enough to replace, so DIY it is.  

While the bumper was in transit, we worked on a few other items.  The first was the cowl and wiper arms.  Both had peeling paint and lots of surface rust.  Considering how much of a hassle it was to find a bumper, we decided to fix these ASAP before the rust became worse.


You can see just how bad the paint is peeling on the cowl.  If we let this spread, especially into salt season, we can kiss our cowl goodbye.  
The wiper arms are also pretty bad.  Since they have to come off to get the cowl out, we can refurbish these as well.

Getting the cowl out of the truck was fairly simple, but it did require removing the hood.  A handful of clips and screws hold the cowl down, along with the wiper arms.


Fortunately, the corrosion is only skin deep and can be removed with some sanding.  A bit of rust stopper will prevent it from coming back.  To prep, we stripped off the rubber seals and all of the plastic fasteners that attach the cowl cover to the body.  The plastic grates also pop loose easily.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015 11:44 PM
Soooo turbo motor swap and coilovers next?
Wednesday, December 16, 2015 11:45 PM
And find a nice quiet dumpster for that automatic trans?
Thursday, December 17, 2015 5:32 AM
We've got some suspension and engine mods in mind, but executing them is challenging here in Kentucky. For example, finding a competent fab shop and an AWD dyno within a reasonable distance has been very, very difficult. Turbocharging this rig is out of my budget, but some custom N/A mods and suspension work is in the mix. The auto is staying, as getting the manual to work with the TOD is something I really don't want to dive into. And without the TOD AWD system, this is just a weird and less practical Trooper. Besides it's a strong GM trans and it has a setting that locks up the torque converter and holds gears into higher RPM. It's actually really good on backroads. Not as good as a manual, but definitely the best slushbox I've driven.
Saturday, December 19, 2015 10:31 AM
Buy a welder, be cheaper than paying some one. And about the t case, why would a traditional box take anything away? It would be stronger in the dirt and being able to shift into 2 wd would enable burnouts and much better mileage. Isn't there some fragile center vlsd that would become an open diff after a little abuse?
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