Readers' Cars; Jon Kingdon's Isuzu Piazza Turbo

Gez Jones

Max Power Magazine

November 1997. P. 224-225.

There aren't many people out there who are brave enough to Max up a car that falls outside the usual Fs, Ps, Rs, and Vs. However, Jon Thomas Kingdon is one of the brave and with a name like that, he needs to be, we reckon...

You're looking at an Isuzu Piazza. An Iwhatwho Pizza? What do you mean you've never heard of it! The Piazza Turbo sold in the UK a good few years ago and was quite a little cracker in its time.

Sure, the image was a bit Daewoo and the styling was not for everyone's taste - the nose is sharper than Barry Manilow's and the arse is rounder than Barry White's - but when it came to power, the Piazza could not be slagged.

The intercooled, turbocharged 2-liter lump under the bonnet pushes out enough power to rip the smile off any hot hatch driver's face - and that's in standard form. When you start to play around under the bonnet, like Jon has, you can build yourself a highly-streetable, pocket rocket. Jon's modified Piazza is pushing out a healthy 220bhp, an amount that will get you 60mph in well under seven seconds, and over the quarter mile in... well, let's just say that you'd be well lucky if yours could match it.

So the Isuzu's mechanicals are obviously up to the task in hand. But what about the styling? Well, that's always a difficult one as most people have their own ideas of what's hot and what's not. Jon obviously feels the Piazza is a stunner, but it wouldn't take me long to find a group that would projectile vomit on the spot if they saw it go past.

Me? Well I have to say the Piazza is not a car to drool over - especially one covered in stickers. But then I'd hate the thought of it not being around, as it at least breaks up the monotony of the XR Fords and Pug 205s. If it was my car I'd dump all the stickers, and possibly the high level hatch spoiler too - it might look good on another car, but it looks well out of place on the Piazza. That said, the Compomotive MO wheels look the bollox, the paint is simply georgeous and even the window tints are smart gradual jobbies.

Inside, Jon's done a fair amount of work too. The Corbeau Forza front bucket seats are the donkey's danglies. Okay, so they're shit for shagging in, but they don't half make cornering a pleasant experience. The aftermarket steering wheel, alloy gearknob and alloy pedal plates are three items you'd be naked without these days. He's also fitted a turbo boost gauge (to tell him if he's on boost or not), a boost control knob (for adjusting his kno... er, I mean boost) and a Microdynamics G-Force meter which lets him know just how quick his Piazza is.

But again, I'm troubled. What the hell is that 'no smoking' sign all about? And why the hell was I (a bloke who falls over an dies if a lethal mixture of nicotine and tar is not continually inhaled) chosen to do this car? Perhaps it's becauseI'm the only one in the office who likes the slightly wierd cars, the underdogs, the cars that people look at and say 'what the hell is that shite?' - as they do when they see mine.

Anayway, I think Jon's done a good job, and his Piazza is pretty damn smart. If you don't think so, you can sit there slagging it off 'til the cows come home, 'cos I really don't care! I admire the man's testicular fortitude, especially with a name like JT Kingdon...


Jon Kingdon's Isuzu Piazza Turbo

ENGINE: Fully rebuilt 2000cc, intercooled and turbo'd Isuzu lump; Group 'A' dump valve, modified actuator and in-car boost control; Super Chip Modified ECU, K&N air filter and NGK race spec plugs; Jetex 3in bore exhaust with Group 'A' side exit rear box.

TRANSMISSION: Rebuilt factory spec 5-speed.

SUSPENSION: Rebuilt and lowered by Lotus.

Brakes: New factory front and rear discs with Ferodo fast-road pads.

WHEELS & TYRES: Compomotive 7 x 16in Motorsport (MO) alloys adorned with 205 45 ZR16 Falken rubber.

BODYWORK\PAINT: DTM front splitter and high level rear hatch spoiler, factory boot spoiler and DIY bonnet vents, home-made front grille, DTM fuel filler cap cover, bee-sting roof ariel; full respray in metal flake red.

INTERIOR: Corbeau Forza front bucket seats, JET 'Sport' steering wheel, Momo alloy gearknob with red graiter and alloy pedal set; turbo boost gauge, boost control knob and Microdynamics G-Force meter; gradiated window tints.

ICE: Goodmans RDS head unit, Gellhard DAP equalizer, Jet 200W amp, Jet 100W amp, bass tube with built-in pre-amp, 2x 12in Earthquakes in custom-ported bass box, 4 tweeters up front and various mids front and rear.

SECURITY: Thacham Immobiliser with undisclosed alarm system.

PERFORMANCE: Max power - 220bhp; quarter mile 14.9secs.

THANKS & FREE PLUG: Demon Tweeks on 01978 664466; Power Engineering on 01895 255699; Segsbury Motors on 01235 868011; Grove Body Repairs on 01235 768771; Jon at IPTOC on 01484 312156.

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