There was a time in the United States when you could buy a sturdy little tuck like the Isuzu P’up (short for “pickup”), beat it mercilessly for years and sell it on to some kid who would either lower (and beat it mercilessly) or take it off road and beat it mercilessly. After the kid was through, he/she would sell it on to someone who needed a cheap work truck that was easy to maintain and was rugged. Oh, those were the days; trucks like the Isuzu P’up, Mitsubishi Mighty Max, Datsun 720 and Toyota Trucks were extremely affordable, simple, cheap, rugged and reliable.
Hopefully, some of those mighty little trucks survived long enough to be restored/resuscitated by someone who cares.
The Isuzu P’up started life in the United States through GM under the name of the Chevy Luv in 1972. Despite selling well for Chevrolet, the Chevy Luv was dropped in favor of the larger, more “American” Chevrolet S10. Isuzu began selling the Isuzu P’up on their own, in the United States in 1982.
Why choose the Isuzu P’up? The 80 horsepower, 1.8-liter gasoline inline-four and the 58hp 2.3-liter diesel were excellent engines. The platform was very rugged, light and components are still easy to acquire. The Isuzu P’up was replaced in 1987 by the TF series pickup truck that Isuzu named “Isuzu Pickup.” The TF series was still an excellent truck and it was available with General Motors’ 120hp 3.1-liter V6.
The Isuzu P’up’s predecessor, the Chevy Luv was built for GM as a response to rising small trucks sales from Japan. These trucks were imported sans a pickup bed. The bed was added once the vehicle(s) were legally imported and paid for. This was done to duck under the 25% tariff “chicken tax” and as a result, GM paid only 4%.
The Chevy Luv, which enjoyed a successful 10-year run in the United States, is becoming somewhat popular with hobbyist and gear-heads. Starting in the 1980’s, the Chevy Luv became an excellent candidate for a V6 and V8 engine swaps. These conversions turned the Chevy Luv into a monster. Engine swap kits are still easy to find on the internet.
Some people have used the Isuzu P’up instead of the Chevy Luv as they are cheaper to acquire and make for a bitchin’ sleeper.
Isuzu builds good vehicles, especially trucks, and it’s a shame they no longer sell small trucks in the United States. Considering the limits partner General Motors put on Isuzu near the end, perhaps it’s for the best. Still, seeing what the rest of the world gets – lamenting Isuzu’s departure is natural.
After doing some research, I’ve found prices for many ’82 – ’86 Isuzu P’ups to hover between $600 to $2,600 depending on the condition and upgrades. Even the Chevy Luv is still affordable with prices for a good “stock” version going for less than 3K. Parts are plentiful and cheap with plenty of items for both trucks available on Ebay.
If you have already, or are about to restore an Isuzu P’up or Chevy Luv – drop us a note and include some photos!
Speaking of General Motors, check out this video of their bi-fuel Silverado 2500 HD!