By on December 4, 2012

All right, we saw one of the rarest examples of Detroito-Japanese badge-engineering of the 1980s in Sunday’s Junkyard Find— a Chrysler/Mitsubishi truck— and today we’re going to look at GM/Isuzu truck that’s a bit less uncommon (but still not something you see every day): a Chevy LUV wearing its original Isuzu badging.
Chevrolet stopped selling the LUV in the early 1980s, but you could still get the second-gen Isuzu Faster in North America for the 1983-88 model years, now badged with an equally cute name: P’up!
I drove a Diesel P’up when I had a job delivering tropical fish in the early 1990s, and the thing— which had about 400,000 miles on the clock— was miserably slow but got absurdly stingy fuel economy. This P’up burned gasoline and didn’t even make it to 150,000 miles.

The P’up was cheap, and it had Joe Isuzu as pitchman.

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24 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Isuzu P’up...”

  • avatar

    Too bad, the difficulty of getting parts for such an obscure vehicle surely brought it to its early doom. Now that the Ranger is gone, there is suddenly a place in the world for these little monsters again.

  • avatar

    My grandfather purchased one of these new in 1984 from a Buick, Isuzu, Lotus (no kidding) dealership. To his last days, he was upset that he let the salesman talk him out of a 5-speed transmission into a 4-speed by saying he’ll get tired of shifting the extra gear. I borrowed it a few times when I needed a car; I remember that in 4WD you could leave it in 1st and let it just crawl over obstacles.

    After my grandfather died, my father drove the truck another decade and a half before giving it to my uncle. The bed is rusting away and apparently is impossible to source. Otherwise, this thing should have an indefinite service life.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    They’re not *that* obscure. I still see one around every so often. The LUV-badged ones were dropped once GM got the S-10 out, although that did offer the Isuzu diesel for a few more years.

    My dad had an ’85 diesel pickup. The engine was literally the only option. He drove it for 15 years or so until the frame rails finally gave up.

  • avatar

    Pretty tough trucks, I would put them with a Toyota of the same gen for durability. I had a 86′ trooper which was basically the same thing with a different body. Drove it to Alaska and back three times, barley put a nickle into it all the way to 350k miles. Finally swapped it for a BMW 2002tii, it was still running but the suspension was shot from getting air on the frost heaved Alcan highway up in the Yukon.

  • avatar

    In the UK, ‘pup’ is slang for a foolish purchase. ‘Buying a pup’ is a reference to buying a piglet in a bag (or ‘poke’), and then finding a (practically worthless) puppy in the bag.

    So: if that little grinding noise between second and third really is just a cheaply fixed slave cylinder problem, you got a bargain. If the whole tranny is bad, you bought a pup.

    Even with the apostrophe in there, I just couldn’t buy one of these.

  • avatar

    I know they’re probably gone forever, but I miss the mini pickups. Maybe I’m just more involved in niche markets. I regularly encounter situations where I, or others, need to haul too much stuff for a car, but don’t need the size/power to tow the Queen Mary. The low bed made getting things like motorcycles, kitchen equipment, ect, in and out simple.

    • 0 avatar

      I really do not understand how small pickups have disapeared. They are so damn useful. You see old ones all the time on the road. My first new car was a stripped down Ford Ranger. No rear bumper, no radio no headliner, manual. vynil seat. I was hoping that Mahindra would bring the low cost mini truck back. Someone needs to.

      • 0 avatar

        These, the LUV, Ranger, ect, were built for.a specific time. When people accepted a small, cheap work truck as just that, a small truck to be used for work. Today if you start with a light truck, give it an eco-acceptable engine, required safety equipment and even minimal options, you’re quickly into the F-150 price range. This doesn’t give dealers much room in terms of profitability.
        Yes there is still a market for small pickups, unfortunately the manufacturers deemed it too small to justify.

  • avatar

    I am just amazed that this is in the junkyard, with the complete lack of rust and four wheel drive.

  • avatar

    My grandpa had an ’82 P’up Diesel that he bought from a transport company he used to work for. We hauled an unbelievable amount of crap around in that thing. Slow, slow, sloooowwww, but it always started right up and there was never a load it couldn’t handle. I’m certain we went over the payload capacity by a dangerous amount many times.

    My dad bought it from my Grandpa so my older brother would have a car to drive around in college, and my brother used it to woo his wife. Is there anything sexier than a 2WD standard cab diesel pickup with a manual tranny?

    We eventually sold it in 2006 for $500 to a mining company who said they picked up any Isuzu diesel they could come across. If I recall, they said they would strip them down and use them inside the mine. It’s probably still chugging along today.

    We still regret selling it.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting story. I know a guy who works as a mechanic in a salt mine and they have 20 year old Chevy pickups down there that are spotless. I guess that deep in the ground, in spite of being salty, there is no moisture to fester the corrosion.

  • avatar

    I have a friend who drove a diesel Isuzu for a long, long time. It was so tough that it survived many, many oil changes done at a large department store chain that was later dinged for service fraud. In this case, instead of changing the oil, they moved the truck to a different location in the parking lot.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A GF bought a new Isuzu Impulse ( against my advice , I told her to buy a Jetta ) in 1985 that I drove quite a bit that IIRC also had a 1.9 engine. Wondering if this was the same engine .

  • avatar

    I had an 82. First truck I bought when I started landscaping. Only major complaint was carb icing on foggy days. Here on the coast of Maine, that is about 50% of the time. :-)
    Traded up when the business needed it. Still see it around town.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine drove one of these in high school. His was black with gold pinstripes.
    He passed away just a few months after we graduated. This brought back some memories. RIP my man.

  • avatar

    These were common here in the Twin Cities in the late 80s. My dad bought one new a 91 reg cab, 2wd, in white of course. A/T and A/C though! That was one the next generation from this, and drove surprisingly well with all season tyres in up to 6in snow.

    And apparently it had an engine codeveloped with Lotus.(?)

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    I don’t remember who was doing the voting but when I was running service in small trucks the Isuzu was voted the toughest truck in Japan. To me that made it the toughest reliable truck in existence. When the luv was replaced by the S10 I think it was a travesty of something. The shell is exactly the contractor type that I had on my little truck and it made it seem much bigger, at least for that purpose.

    I am not driving a small japanese truck because the last one I owned wore out at over 300k. Sometimes I think I should have gone with another junkyard engine but I’m driving american now. Bigger cab is better for fat people I suppose but I miss my little toy.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The optional Diesel in these was the 2.2 liter as opposed to the 1.8 that was available in the Chevette and Isuzu I-Mark. There was a turbo-diesel available as well. I would occasionally see a P’up Space cab with the TD and it came with a large hood scoop that looked like it was off of a 79-82 Mustang. Mainly for engine clearance not induction.

  • avatar

    This car is almost ten years older than I am. All the same, I can tell that name should be pronounced “Poop.”

  • avatar

    15 years ago someone GAVE me one of these because they couldn’t get it to idle. I slapped a junkyard carb on it and drove/treated it like the “free” truck it was.

    I cut down the “P’up” emblem on the fender, and added part of the badging from a similar vintage Trooper, which had the same font/size lettering. I drove that “Pooper” a couple years before I really started to appreciate it. Between the 2.6 liter engine, the 5sp, and truck box that was only one layer of steel, it was surprisingly entertaining to drive.

  • avatar
    Petrol Blue

    These were great trucks for a business to operate. My dad’s company owned a fleet of these in the 80s. They ran all over town delivering heavy items like furnaces, every day. They had the four cylinder gas engine and four-speed manual. As an accountant, he appreciated how affordable and dependable they were.

    As a kid I had a scare in one of these. The parking brake lever, which can be seen to the left of the steering column, was too easy to release. It was meant to be done by rotating the handle 90 degrees CW and letting the lever pull in. My sister was sitting in the middle seat and I was on the right. Somehow we bumped the handle, the brake was released, and the truck started rolling back down the driveway. I shouted at her, “Push the brake pedal! The middle one!” and pulled the e-brake back out. Fortunately we stopped the truck quickly.

  • avatar
    Pup Owner

    I can speak from experience, My 1984 Isuzu Pup, one owner, gets me to work and back everyday. It’s in rather rough shape since I picked her up from the Isuzu dealer in 1984. (rust holes here and there) The 1.9 Liter gas engine does fine in city traffic with it’s 4 speed Manual trans. It’s the Long Bed version and I have been stopped numerous occasions while driving by someone hoping to purchase it from me, My response: Check with me again in ten years and I’ll let you know.
    In the hot S. Florida climate I do use the A/c quite a bit, which will freeze anyone (38 degrees at the vent). I did an average repair and maintenance calculation over the entire life of the truck approx. $6K. Includes everything, tires, batteries, Oil services, alternators, belts, 3 paint jobs, A/C compressor,Brake jobs, u-joints, you name it. Engine has never had more than valve cover removal and oil pan gasket. Mileage a click under 200K. I used to say it has never left me stuck, although one time in rush hour traffic I stalled it and was using an old battery(I knew it wasn’t going to re-start)I quickly hopped out, started pushing it, slid it into 2nd gear, popped the clutch and was on my way before anyone sounded their horn. It will start with an almost DEAD battery, every time.

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