Isuzu 4x4 on 4x4Wire

Isuzu on 4x4Wire - CALMINI's Shop Trooper - an Inside Job

By: Randy Burleson - 4/2000

Photo by CALMINI
Photo by CALMINI

After years of producing the boxy, upright Trooper and Trooper II loved by many, in 1992 Isuzu released a rounder, curvier version that was bigger in almost every dimension: length, width, height, weight, and engine size. With a modern, 5-link coil-sprung rear-end and a revised independent front suspension (IFS) which provides more wheel-travel, this new body style rides s-m-o-o-t-h-l-y, yet still provides the capable off-highway characteristics for which Isuzus are known.

Photo by CALMINI
...and after, with lift, wheels, and rims.

As soon as these rigs came off the production line, enthusiasts started wondering if they couldn't squeeze bigger tires under them for a more agressive look and enhanced off-highway performance, as well. For over 20 years, California Mini Truck (CALMINI) has helped out in cases like this. They are one of all-too few manufacturers that make dress-up parts for Isuzus, and they are one of even fewer companies that manufactures and markets a functional lift for the late-model Trooper.

Photo by CALMINI
The CALMINI lift levels the truck and provides clearance for good-sized tires.

CALMINI purchased a 1994 Trooper to show off their catalog of function- and appearance-enhancing products. They dubbed their project truck Project Round Trooper. 4x4Wire follows along to see how CALMINI can take this good-looking, well-engineered but stock truck... and with bolt-on, off-the-shelf products, transform it into an eye-catching ride the looks great and works well on the street, with improved trail capabilities, as well.

Installing CALMINI's Lift: Disassembly
Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
1. Lift the vehicle with a floor jack and support it securely with stands or blocks. Remove the wheels. 2. While supporting the suspension with a floor jack, first remove the front shocks. 3. The rear shocks can be removed while the vehicle is on the ground. 4. Locate the Torsion Bar Anchor Bolt and mark its position.

Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
5. Using an impact wrench or breaker bar, back off the Anchor Bolt and remove it from the Torsion Finger. This allows removal of the Torsion Bar from its mounting socket. 6. Loosen the front Torsion Socket on the Lower Control Arm. 7. Remove the Torsion Bar. 8. If the Torsion Bar and Torsion Finger are corroded together, use a hammer to knock the Torsion Finger off the Torsion Bar.

Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
9. Remove the front bumpstops from the frame (over the front lower control arms). 10. Remove the rear bumpstops from the frame (over the rear axle). 11. With the shocks removed and the rear axle supported on the floor jack, remove the rear Coil Springs. 12. To access the front swaybar attachment bushings, remove the front skidplate assembly.

Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
13. Remove the front Sway Bar end-links on each side. 14. Remove the D-bushing mounts, then remove the front Sway Bar. 15. Remove the rear sway bar D-bushing mounts and end-links. 16. Remove the rear sway bar.

Installing CALMINI's Lift: Reassembly
Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
1. Grease both of the end splines on each new CALMINI Torsion Bar. 2. Insert the front end of the Sway Bars into the front Torsion Socket on each Lower Control Arm. Slide the Torsion Finger onto the rear spline of each Sway Bar. Note the difference in thickness between the new CALMINI coil spring (top) and the stock coil. 3. Position the open end of the spring into the slot on the rear axle perch.

Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
4. Install the new CALMINI Bump Stop Extensions on the front using the supplied new hardware.. 5. Repeat the process on the rear. 6. Install the new CALMINI shocks with boots on the front. 7. Then install the supplied shocks and boots on the rear.

Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
Note the difference in size between the stock swaybar (top) and the new CALMINI swaybar. 8. Before installing the new CALMINI Sway Bars, apply the provided grease to the surface where the new D-bushings will ride. 9. Install the new CALMINI D-bushings on the new swaybar. 10. Re-use the stock end-links to connect the new swaybar.

Photo by CALMINI Photo by CALMINI
12. Before re-installing the wheels and tires, tighten the Torsion Bar Anchor Bolt until it aligns with the mark made earlier, during disassembly.
Note: This establishes a reference point for final adjustment of the torsion bars and ride height.
13. Re-install the wheels and then set the vehicle back on its wheels. Adjust the Torsion Bars until the ride hight is even between the front and the rear of the vehicle. The ride height increase should be about 1.75-2 inches taller than stock... not including your taller new tires!

Changes to Ride and Handling

Steve Kramer took me for a ride in Project Round Trooper, and that ride left me wondering if my wife would really divorce me if I came home with another Isuzu... the factory blue paint, killer chrome wheels, and muscular fender flares (no pictures yet, but they'll be up soon) impressed me from across the parking lot. There's just enough lift to clear the rubber, without succumbing to the caricaturish sky-high-lift-atop-monster-tires syndrome that my own 4x4 suffers from. Don't get me wrong -- I love the 'wheeling capabilities of my lifted-and-locked Amigo, but it definitely suffered in the ride and handling department.

Project Round Trooper, on the other hand, handles even better than a stock Trooper. CALMINI's swaybars, springs, and shocks work well together, resulting in an SUV that is fun to drive fast. With a few hundred horses of Isuzu V6 under the hood, sticky rubber, and the CALMINI suspension, this truck begs to be driven hard! Body roll is minimal, and there's significantly less brake-dive than I remember from a stock Trooper.

Future Plans for Project Round Trooper

4x4Wire will be following the changes in upcoming months, documenting the doo-dads that CALMINI develops and tests on this rig. Even now, Project Round Trooper is tooling around Bakersfield sporting molded fender flares... and a new winch bumper. This winch bumper really changes the look of the Trooper, and offers anchors for a winch that will really amplify the off-highway abilities of this already-capable rig.

As you may have noticed, CALMINI's Project Round Trooper sports an upgraded set of wheels and tires. CALMINI is pretty conservative about fitting oversize tires, so even larger tires may be possible. At the first Moab Zu Zoo event, Dale Hartog was running 33x12.50 tires through Moab's articulation-stretching red rock with no rubbing.

A snazzy set of fender flares shades these new tires and adds to this Trooper's burly stance. Stay tuned to 4x4Wire -- this is just the first article that details this ongoing project.

Contacts Related Links

6951 McDivitt Dr.
Bakersfield Ca. 93313 U.S.A.
Phone 661-398-9585
Fax 661-398-9555

CALMINI Hi-Flow Air Filter Kit