An Isuzu Amigo on the Alpine Loop

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Report by: Steve Bendy

Edited by: Randy Wheeler

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The Author on the Alpine Loop.

The Alpine Loop of southwest Colorado consists of a series of high mountain passes that link Lake City, Ouray and Telluride in southwest Colorado. These passes exist because roads were needed to haul the gold and silver from the mines to the smelters. The mines are almost all closed, and many of the towns along the pass roads are ghost towns, but the pass roads flourish as four wheel drive roads.

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The Author on the Alpine Loop.

Ouray advertises itself as the "Jeep capital of the world," with jeep tours and jeeps available for rent. The county maintains the roads by clearing snow and keeping the roads passable to almost all SUV's. Whether you wish to enjoy the scenery, wildflowers, explore the ghost towns or find a difficult side road to challenge your serious 4x4, you will find it here.

 

How The Amigo Performed

We have been visiting this area since 1972 using Jeep Wagoneers, Land Cruisers, Scouts, Blazers, and rental Jeep Wranglers. How would the Amigo compare? The only modification to the Amigo was installing BF Goodrich AT tires of the same size as the original tires.

Here are my observations:

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The Author on the Alpine Loop.
  1. The engine is strong, idles up steep grades and never misses a beat.
  2. There is NOT enough ground clearance. I hit rocks several times that would be passed over by other stock SUV's. On a positive note, the Amigo skid plates really work, and vital pieces are tucked up well.
  3. The Amigo turns sharp, almost as good as a Scout - this is very important when encountering switchbacks.
  4. The fold-down top storage system needs work. In order to fold-down the top you must unzip and remove the side and back windows. A nice bag is provided for storage of the windows and it fits great in the back cargo area. However, the windows take up the entire floor space and you are unable to put anything heavy on top of the bag. The solution? I built a shelf the exact size of the cargo area that the bag and sunroof glass will slip under. The shelf is painted to match the interior and carpeted on top to match.

Summary

The Amigo was able to take everything I asked of it with ease. I was able to drive over 600 miles in comfort to get to the off-road stuff. The real gnarly stuff that modified 4x4's take was not even attempted. I have no doubt that with more ground clearance the Amigo would have no problem. This is one fine vehicle!

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The Author poses on a smooth section of Black Bear Pass.

Also check out Steve's Amigo website at: http://www.bucshockey.org/about/sbendy/amigo.html

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