By on November 17, 2012

Expertly collected and commented by Phil Coconis, this is the first of many BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts, an assemblage of the still driveable near-dead.

Straight out of the late-Disco era, this exhaustively coastal-aged example of GM’s early efforts in “badge engineering”—taking vehicles virtually completely manufactured by another entity (in this case ISUZU) and fitting them with their own (in this case Chevrolet) emblems—is truly a miracle survivor, on so many levels.

Firstly, there’s the obvious: extensive and serious visible rust; which at some point is going to play havoc with basic and necessary functions, such as electrical system operation (can you say “bad ground”?).

Secondly, that this is a California vehicle residing in an “enhanced emissions area” (read : subject to biennial dyno-style emissions testing), compounded by the fact that critical emissions system parts—let alone those needed for routine maintenance—are no doubt virtually non-existent in any form at this point in time.

The decay also impairs important structural functions (like body components remaining intact).


This unit is still sporting “Winston” brand tires (the late Sam Winston has been gone from the tire sales scene for a decade now), a plethora of stickers presumably holding the back window in position, and Hula Girl on the dash (driver no doubt acknowledging with ingenious cavalier resignation that efforts to employ St. Cristopher have been respectfully declined).

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on TTAC). Contact him through www.linkedin.comWritten and photographed by Phil Coconis / All Rights Reserved / Use by Permission Only.

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29 Comments on “BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts: LUV Hangover...”

  • avatar

    TTAC, I appreciate the effort but the slides function has got to go. At least on my mobile, it forces a bunch of reloads, and frankly, it’s just unnecessary. This article would have been better without the slides – its distracting.

    Besides that y’all are awesome, the articles have been great and there truly is no other auto website with as informative articles or with such distinct authors

    • 0 avatar

      I completely agree with the post above. My browser (Safari) reloads every time I click to the next slide. It’s annoying enough that I didn’t even look at all the photos (and I like the possibilities of this new series).

      Additionally, on the mobile front, when are you all planning on adding a mobile site? I commute by subway 40 minutes every weekday morning and evening, and having a mobile site would really improve my reading on the train.

      Here’s hoping this it taken as constructive criticism, for I love the content here.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you for the notice. I will leave the slideshow up for a while to collect comments. If there are lots of negative comments, the slideshow will go.

      Please note good and bad, working and non-working.

      Please mention operating system and browser type when making comments, like this:

      iPhone 4, native browser
      Android 4, native browser
      Android 4, Opera
      Windows 7, Firefox


      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I’m not certain if there’s a difference between “slideshow” and that lightbox software while using my smartphone; I am not suffering any adverse effects with it now.

        Android 4.0.3, Dolphin browser 9.0.1

      • 0 avatar

        Not to be a critic, but since redesign of the site, pinch to zoom function does not work on my tablet. It’s HP TouchPad with native webOS 3.0.5


  • avatar

    Visiting my father in The PNW , I was surprised to see how many Chevy LUV Pickups , mostly step sides , are still surviving , mostly looking near death like this example .

    Agreed , the new picture format sux badly ~ it wastes time and two of the thumbnail pix refuse to load , instead the same 3/4 view of spiderwebs in the bed re loads three times…..

    Please go back and don’t ruin a good thing , TTAC is terrific just as it is .

    TIA ,


    • 0 avatar

      “Visiting my father in The PNW , I was surprised to see how many Chevy LUV Pickups , mostly step sides , are still surviving , mostly looking near death like this example .”

      That’s strange indeed……because the stepsides are not factory Isuzu/GM installed. Most of the ones I’m familiar with were made by California Step Side and IIRC most of the box and especially the fenders are fiberglass. Usually when I do see one of these vintage 70’s mini trucks here in the salty snowbelt it’s a well cared for example and not in the shape of our feature creature.

      • 0 avatar

        Strange indeed as I was there when these were new and every dealer had plenty of step sides , all with matching paint ~ I always assumed they were dealer made . -Nate

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My 94 Ranger doesnt have a good panel on it. Surface rust is not as bad as the LUV’s I have adorned its battered visage with a kidney grille and a front rondele from my 528e collection. It got a laugh from a border guard and the safety inspectors. That is always a good thing

  • avatar

    iPhone 4 safari here,

    Do not do any more of these slide shows, VERY frustrating and unnecessary for the users.
    I also didn’t even finish it and the old Curbside Classics is how I first found this site.

  • avatar

    Wow – this is why we have an annual safety inspection in Maine. That thing probably has the structural integrity of a potato chip bag. I can only imagine the state of the suspension and brakes, and those 10yo+ tires are probably in FINE shape…

    • 0 avatar

      California cars like to start rusting from the top downward because the paint vanishes after decades in the sun.

      Just on a visual, the truck looks straight and sitting level on the frame as the cab mounts would go long before the frame.

      I like the rust-bucket look of some of California’s aging pickups, mostly ’50s and ’60s, Ford and Chevy. I’d consider putting a modern chassis under this LUV or a 350/350 combo. But I’d definitely keep its ‘rustic’ look or in its natural patina.

  • avatar

    This truck has survived the CARB totalitarians because it is a 1975 model. You can run whatever you want, provided it is a 1975 or older. They aren’t subject to any emissions tests.

    • 0 avatar
      Phil Coconis

      According to my research, the combination of four-headlamp lighting and use of the Chevy “Bowtie” on side badging and grille put it @ no earlier than a 1977 model.

      • 0 avatar

        1977 may have been the last year that they looked like this, but they already had the quad headlights and bowties in 1974. Chances are very slim that anyone is keeping a clunker from 1976 or later on the road in a smog check zip code in California. Diesels are about the only exceptions, and that’s because they are exempt. Which should be odd since old diesels are gross polluters of the first order…

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    Unless this LUV was parked in the Outer Sunset district, that’s A LOT of rust for California, even in 32+ years.
    Just imagine how long these little bastards lasted in the Midwest.
    Made the mating season of gnats seem like ETERNITY.

    Lil’ Japanese pickup trucks have to be the worst for rust.
    Even 15 year old Toyota pickups are getting pretty gnarly looking at the bed ’round here. And Central Ohio is not snow belt.

    • 0 avatar

      In the Midwest? These turds lasted as long as anything else with a GM nameplate on it back then – 6 months, maybe less. Hondotas at least made to the end of the payments before starting to dissolve.

      I remember back in junior high seeing these things rusting away one year old or less. Just like the rest of the Chevy junk.

  • avatar

    For long term durability, it’s tough to beat a vehicle with a full frame.
    The visible corrosion looks more cosmetic than structural. I’ll give it another decade for sure.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, if you consider a load bed expendable I guess. Where I’m sitting, when you can see the ground through the floor of the bed, and the rolled rim at the top is about to break off of its own accord, you’re well into borrowed time.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Something like this fits well in some small town in the heartland, but not in an urban or suburban environment.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    couple of friends bought Chevy LUVs new in the latter part of the seventies and I borrowed both of them a couple of times when I was moving. Even then they seemed like a lesser vehicle than Datsun or particularly Toyota trucks of the same era . And even at delivery the beds and particularly the tie -downs and tailgate latches were already rusting . One of them had a particularly awful strobe stripe job that covered most of the side of the bed with a ridiculous ” Mighty Mike ” emblazoned on it , which referred to these being called the Mikado . Ah the Carter days .

  • avatar

    It’s all just minor surface rust, and at that rate it will last another decade or two. he should just do a yearly shake N shoot.

  • avatar

    I’m not surprised.

    An uncle had one of these in the mid 90s, $500 beater, in a state with no inspections. As a child I was the right height to see the fist-sized rust holes in the frame. Shudder.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    I remember a Guam summer in 1979 when my good friends father brought one of these Chevy LUV’s home. It was a baby blue and he sprayed the bed with UNDERCOATING, the original “rhino-liner” except I recall it coming off on my shorts and my shoe soles… Awesome little truck to an eleven year old.

  • avatar


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