Chevy Luv is getting hard to come by anymore. They’ve just mostly disappeared, which given their age is understandable. The Chevy LUV was the first captive import mini-truck, the fruit of GM’s 1971 investment in Isuzu way back in 1971. Already the next year, Isuzu Faster pickups re-badged as Chevy LUVs appeared, a portend of things to come.
Datsun pioneered the segment in the US, and Toyota soon followed. But the LUV was the first to bear the badging of a domestic, and raised a few eyebrows when it arrived. The first mini-truck I ever drove was one of these, back in 1975 in Iowa, by an early adopter. Needless to say, it was a bit of a tight squeeze for me, although I was pretty used to that back then. And the driving experience was pretty predictable: a lot like a Toyota Corona, which I was quite familiar with, except for a stiffer ride, especially out back.
The steering was a bit dull, common to Japanese cars and trucks, but the transmission was slick-shifting, also typical. The 1817 cc SOHC four made 75 hp and was eager enough in this light truck, and it scooted down Hwy 218 easily enough, but it was not the kind of vehicle that inspired high velocity experiments.
Somewhat unusual for the genre, the cab and front end were borrowed directly from Isuzu’s Florian sedan.
Isuzu’s rep for building tough vehicles was quickly recognized, and they often lived out long lives in hard labor. But all things must pass, and the era of cheap LUV seems to be fading out.