Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado
Once Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had the Isuzu Faster-based Chevy LUV. Each type rusted with great eagerness and were near-disposable cheap, so they’re all very rare today. I see maybe one LUV per three years of junkyard visits, so this ’79 LUV Mikado grabbed my attention right away.
The Mikado option package, if we are to believe online sources, gave the buyer striped seats and a three-spoke steering wheel (plus the cool-looking Japanophilic fender badges).
The three-spoke wheel is there, but I don’t see any seat stripes. Perhaps the owner of this truck swapped in a later Isuzu P’Up bench.
The G18 engine, making 80 horses. 21st-century Americans require at least that much power for their lawn tractors, not to mention a crew-cab in their “small” pickups. The G18 was also found in the “Buick Opel” (an Isuzu-ized Opel Kadett sold in North America during the darkest days of the Malaise Era).
Now there’s even more to LUV, for everybody!
Did anyone buy the 4WD LUV?
This Thai-market Isuzu Faster Spacecab ad is for a second-generation truck, but I had to include it due to the little spaceman.
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Back in the early seventies I worked in parts at an Datsun dealer. We used to do tune-ups and regular maintenance on Chevy Luvs, Opel GTs, and Isuzu Bellets. They had Hitachi ignition systems and our points, condensers, caps, rotors, coils etc. all worked. At the time, it seemed that the GM dealers didn't want to have anything to do with them after the sale. My favourite Japanese truck to drive was a Dodge D50 with the 2.6 engine. It had lots of power, and the standard transmission was excellent. It was black with huge orange and yellow decals on it, and the seats were really nice buckets done in bumble bee colours. A little too loud for my tastes today. I had to get rid of it when the cost for oil exceeded the cost for fuel.
I owned, used and abused both of them. A chevy luv and a buick opel. Got all four wheels off the ground with both of them and only broke the torsion bar on the opel. Dad was not impressed. I wish I had them both. 29 mpg on the freeway at yesterdays speeds of 60-65 and who know what in town. Never kept track then but it wasn’t much less. Of course back then five bucks got ya more than 1.5 gallons of gas.