We got a lot of good guesses, but it took almost 100 comments before we got the right one. And CC’s Jim Cavanaugh did it. Here’s his guess and the supporting evidence.
OK, I have now spent all the mental energy on this one I am going to. My final conclusions. First, I think we ignore the photo source at our peril. Has anyone ever seen a non-GM picture from the GM Photo Store? I think it’s GM. There is also a GM logo at the bottom right of the picture on the GM Photo Store.
Second, that rear suspension looks like that of almost every Japanese pickup from the 70s. Isuzu was part of GM and this suspension looks not at all unlike that of the Isuzu Faster/Chevy LUV.
Third that door handle also bears a strong resemblance to that used on Isuzu pickups of the era. I still think that wheelcover is Chevy, not Ford. This probably coming from one of the smaller studios, the modest background would not be surprising.
Fourth, that design language just shouts GM to me. The upper door shape and the soft shoulder along the beltline ape the 67-72 Chevy/GMC pickups. Also the lower body that is slightly indented from the upper body was also an idea seen on some GM vehicles of that era.
My conclusion is that this is an early proposal for a Scout-like vehicle based on the Isuzu Faster chassis. The front end looks a lot like the 1981+ Faster and the rest of the vehicle draws heavily on the 1968-72 American GM pickups for inspiration. So I think we have an early SUV prototype based on a long wheelbase Isuzu Faster.
And here’s the proof, right from my own files, having shot and posted this lwb Pup pickup a few years back.
I was going down a similar path last night when other demands cut that short. It became clear to me that this was not a full size pickup/utility. And that what I saw as a front leaf spring was probably something else.
Here’s a lwb Isuzu Pup. Huge similarities, right down to the underslung rear leaf springs.
I can’t find any support for it, but my memory tells me that this generation Isuzu Faster was designed by/with input from GM Detroit. It certainly has a very familial look. Exactly when this concept was made is another question. Was it before the gen2 Pup came out? Presumably so, as in an early concept before the design was locked in. One thing that made me think it wasn’t a GM product is the poor quality of the body work; it looks a bit primitive and the accent line doesn’t match up.
Of course, the question as to why they would consider a lwb version for a utility over a swb version is another question. Makes very little sense.
The door handle says LUV to me and that rear suspension with the front hanger hanging down so low definitely fits. So I agree that is the most likely possibility.
Not a total slam dunk, I would consider your proof more like supporting evidence but certainly more well thought out and plausible than my guess.
May be it, could be it, but the proofs would have to pass cross-examination.
Myself, I believe that the mystery vehicle is simply a mock-up buck and not built on an actual relevant chassis. It appears there is no RH suspension, etc.
Study rear spring details in attached cropped picture. Unlike LUV or any production piece.
If it was simply to present a concept that’d be based on existing, or soon-to-be, production LUV, would designer have troubled with minor details such as relocation of the lock cylinder or “nipping” the door edge?
I’m not suggesting this mockup was based on the production gen2 Pup/LUV. It clearly was created in the development process that led to the gen2 truck, perhaps quite early. Which explains the many differences,like the door lock as well as all the other changes from this to the final production Pup/LUV.
I can’t guarantee that Jim’s guess is right, but the evidence is clearly very compelling, especially compared to all the other guesses. Good enough for me.
We can’t convict on close enough. LoL
Myself, if picking them out of a line-up, the only similarity I can possibly identify is hood-slope towards front; everything else is different in detail.
Again, probably our man, but he deserves a fair chance.
Resized cropped image:
Well, it looks like my educated guess got a promotion. 🙂
I feel pretty good about this as long as the burden of proof is “preponderance of the evidence” and not the stiffer standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
It is funny how mysterious some of these shots of prototypes can be. I am betting someday somebody will have something more to either prove or disprove my theory. Until that happens, I feel pretty good about it.
I fell down this internet rabbit hole last evening trying to sort this one out. Some fascinating stuff, particularly the original Blazer concept in Part 6.
Those wheelcovers look a lot like some I had on a 1978 Malibu.
Sad enough no pictures of that car.
I missed the original post, but my first reaction was GM because that roof and greenhouse is so reminiscent of a 76 Blazer.
I’ll take the GM Photo Store website at their word, and think Jim C. should feel confident about this one, give or take a quibbling detail or two (see “Product Descripion” caption):
The mid-70s Blazer wheel:
What is it they say?
Some peoples educated guesses are better than a room full of “experts” !
Congrats on one impressive educated guess!!
It may have been a Blazer prototype of some sort, but I clearly see the similarities with the Isuzu trucks of the time, particularly the size and underslung rear leaft springs.
They did build the early Isuzu Trooper as a long wheelbase 2-door (although with an integral steel roof).
My ’87 Gen II Isuzu LS P’up was a great little pickup. I added a cap. So it wound up somewhat similar to the concept vehicle here. With improvements in safety engineering, I wish we had a small-truck option today.
Happy Motoring, Mark
Might this have been an early exercise in what, over time, eventually became the S-10 Blazer?
I’m thinking that it is. A commenter in the original article raised that question, and now seeing the similarities with this and the Isuzu — and since the S-10 was the Isuzu-based Luv’s successor — I think it’s likely that this was an early S-10 Blazer exercise.
I said that too! Maybe at first was going to be based on Isuzu pickup, then switched to in house S-10?
Definitely GM, definitely a proto-SUV, but it looks older to me … a lot of details are more late-60’s to early ’70’s Euro-GM (Opel), or maybe Holden, though maybe those came later to Isuzu or even later to other geo’s, such as Latin America or South Africa. Note for example the slim bumpers. I see no relationship with either 1st or 2nd gen LUV in the form, though some trim items may have been borrowed. However, that’s all just my opinion, I have no knowledge of this concept vehicle 🙂
My guess is that the “slim” bumpers were production pieces at the time, with the rear being ’73+ truck. It just seems that for the purposes of the study it wouldn’t have been worth the effort to create the minor detail of a unique “channel” bumper.
But then again… maybe it was a leftover ’72 down buck that was reworked for this exercise?
Hopefully someone will say: “Hey! I recognize that wheel opening’s arch.” Then maybe we can get a grip on if the fender was borrowed.
Keep in mind that trucks weren’t required to have 5mph bumpers in the ’70s like US-market cars were. Several early AWD wagons managed to get classified as “trucks” to take advantage of the less stringent bumper and safety requirements, including the ’80 AMC Eagle and the Mitsubishi-built 4WD Colt wagons (the ones that were sedan-based, not the Colt Vista though I doubt those met “car” bumper requirements either). A real SUV like this one wouldn’t have needed huge bumpers.
Agreed. My point is that this looks like it was a quick-and-dirty use-what-we-have project.
And so the front bumper and its fit-up obviously is not anywhere close to what would be considered acceptable for prime time. Probably a bumper (prop?) that was available and it was good enough for the purpose; it didn’t matter that much.
Meanwhile the bumpers (and tires and wheel covers) did inadvertently somewhat date stamp the work. The fender may hold a similar clue of its repurposing and maybe a sharp CCer will recognize some detail that will ID it?