Car Review : ISUZU PANTHER SPORTY 1996 ~ Cars and Bikes
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Friday, 5 October, 2007

Car Review : ISUZU PANTHER SPORTY 1996

Car Review : ISUZU PANTHER SPORTY, 2500 cc 1996
I bought this car in 1996 as a brand new car for several reasons:

  1. I often used diesel powered vehicles likes Isuzu Trooper and Daihatsu Taft GT.
  2. Diesel engine is easy to maintain, as long as you change the oil and filters regularly.
  3. Good workshop/garage network.
  4. Good body shape/ exterior with big wheel and over fender.
  5. Enough internal space room.
  6. Value for money.

Once I got the car, I started to up-grade step by step:

  1. Changed the head unit with "Sony" brand (previously was Kenwood), add a CD changer, install a power amp and sub-woofer.
  2. Changed the OEM steering wheel with "Momo" leather steering wheel.

After few months using this car, the character become obvious:

  1. Very bright head light, no need up-grade
  2. Excessive body roll during cornering, change the OEM oil shock (Kayaba) with harder gas shock (also from the same Kayaba brand). Suspension become harder and the car handling improved, however the new gas shock absorber only good for 10 to 12 months, probably I should choose a better quality shock i.e Biltstain or Old Man Emu. Harder shock make the ride feel bit harder for the first three month, after that the car suspension feel better.
  3. Incorrect final gear ratio, max speed only 115 km/h
  4. Noisy engine (of course, this is direct injection diesel engine).
  5. Good quality AC, (ND brand), low maintenance, very cold, silent. No heater.
  6. Good fuel consumption, 1 ltr for 9 km in the city and 1:14 for extra urban.

To get a better final gear ratio, I used the isuzu trooper final gear replaced the panther original one. This new final gear was worked much better than the original one. Panther Sporty is using 235/70 R15 tire size, much bigger than the standard panther size (195/65 R15). I also made little adjustment in fuel injector. With new final gear and injector adjustment, its easy to reach 4500rpm, however the fuel consumption slightly increased. A turbo-zet installed at air intake, the rotary of the fan will increase following the rpm. This turbo zet will help the engine respond especially at lower rpm. With all modification, the Isuzu Panther can reach 140 km/h easily.

Next modification was fuel tank. The spare tire location is inside back cabin instead of on the bottom of the car. There is a empty space under the body, so I'd installed an additional tank at that location, both tanks are connected with rubber hose. So with two tanks its can accommodate almost 98 liters fuel, its more than enough for 2 weeks driving.


After 2-3 years, I recognized some problems:

  1. Brake jammed, the front disk needs extra maintenance, at least should be clean up every year or every 10,000 km.
  2. Speedometer gear broken for many times. This gear made by crappy plastic material. Change with after market metal gear for less than US$ 2.
  3. Power steering seal leaking after 2 year, need replacement.
  4. Loosen wheel stud/bolt. I lost 3 of 4 of my rear wheel bolts, one of them dropped to the rear brake drum and made "cling" noise. Its very dangerous, it can broke the rear brake pads and drum. These bolds need a regular inspection, at least once a week.
  5. In year four, I heard a hard ticking noise from the fuel injector pump, the oil seal was leaking, need replaced and calibrated.
To improve the engine capability some Panther owners install a small low compression turbo (usually Garrett brant), this turbo will help engine performance (about 20 to 25 % better) and also will improve fuel consumption due to increasing of engine efficiency. It will cost around US$ 1000 for brand new turbo or US$ 400 to US$ 600 for second hand rebuilt turbo. The next generation panther have turbo as an optional.

Generally I'm quite satisfied with this car, huge space, high torsion, low maintenance, and economic fuel consumption. However, if I can choose, I'll choose the Isuzu Panther with standard tire size instead of the big one. I'd sold this car at 2002 with 100,000km on odometer.

See my other post for general diesel engine tuning.

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