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I’ve owned my Isuzu Piazza Turbo for about a year now. It has come a fair way since I bought it, and it has been quite a journey.
My car is a 1989 ‘Handling by Lotus’ model, with automatic gearbox and around 65,000 miles on the clock.
I had been pestered by a mate of mine for years to buy one but never had any interest due to owning an Toyota AE86.
I made the mistake of selling that car, which about six months later brought on mental health issues for me because I realised that, by not having a car like that, it was as if I was missing part of my personality.
I was made aware of this Piazza sitting in a barn about 30 minutes from where I live. I got on to the guy who owned it and asked if I could come and see it; he replied by saying that he would get it out and let me know when it was ready.
After two days of radio silence and thinking he had forgotten, I received the first pictures of it, agreed to buy it, organised a trailer and went to pick it up.
The car had been sitting in the barn for about 16 years. It had no fuel pump so we didn’t even know if it still ran.
Once home, we began the stripdown to fit a new cambelt and fuel pump for the first start-up. With those fitted it pretty much fired first time, ran for a few minutes and then died.
This resulted in a part stripdown of the engine to unclog the injectors and fix a water leak on the bottom of the inlet, after which it ran like a dream.
The following few months were spent with me rolling around on the drive, putting my mark on the car and generally enjoying having something to tinker with.
I lowered it by approximately 5in, fitted a set of 15x8 eT0 alloys bought for me by my brilliant partner, and gave the arches a light roll to stop any rubbing.
Progress slowed because I had no deadline, just tinkering here and there with no real aim.
I then got a last-minute ticket for a local show called OhSoRetro, which got the fire going and the car was completed about a week or two before.
The first drive was eventful, to say the least.
It was only a six-mile round trip to a local meet, but I had overfilled the gearbox so it spat out oil, smoked like a pig, wouldn’t change down and the throttle was sticking.
It wasn’t ideal, but for the first drive for 16 years was okay. We made it to OhSoRetro. I was happy just to be there, to be honest.
We didn’t realise that there was a top 20 award for the best cars there. And, to our surprise, we won!
Six months of work and problems, and overcoming my own depression and anxiety, had all paid off. To me, that was the peak of everything and I was over the moon.
The six months that followed have been spent making general improvements to the car.
We’ve fitted electric power steering, custom Gaz dampers, had the paint corrected and ceramic coated, made a splitter and side-skirt extensions, fitted American-spec headlights and just enjoyed it.
It is an absolute dream to own, and wherever we take it we get either,“I’ve never seen one,” or, “I haven’t seen one in years.” The positivity it brings is amazing.
There’s a group of people who have helped massively with both me, personally, and with the car. Without them the Piazza wouldn’t be what it is today and neither would I.
So I have to thank Mark and Simon Whyatt for putting up with my outrageous ideas and for helping along the way when I break things… And also Connor from Driven Escape, a not-for-profit organisation whose support and mental-health awareness Facebook page has helped me a lot.
The community of car enthusiasts makes people like me realise that we aren’t alone in our battles.
But mostly I have to thank my partner, Holly Whyatt, for all of the backing and motivation she has given me to push on and do things such as this. She is a star, and I’d be nothing without her.
- Owned by Matthew Abela
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