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California LUV: 1980 Chevrolet LUV 4×4

Badge engineering was a big thing starting in the 1960s, or that’s when it really started to hit its stride. This isn’t a full list of countries, but British, French, German, and Japanese vehicles were often rebadged as American vehicles to fill a nitch that manufacturers either couldn’t fill or didn’t want to fill without having major design, engineering, and tooling costs. This 1980 Chevrolet LUV is listed here on eBay in Yucaipa, California and the current big price is $3,877 but the reserve isn’t met.

We have seen quite a few Chevy LUVs here in the past but most of them have been rear-wheel-drive, this one is a 4×4 which automatically makes it more valuable and desirable if you’re a box-checker. As in, you like to have options and features on your vehicles rather than a bare-bones model. This one checks at least two boxes for me: it’s a 4×4 and it has a 4-speed manual transmission.

The Isuzu Faster pickup made its way to North America in the early-1970s as the Chevrolet LUV – Light Utility Vehicle – and they went away once Chevy introduced its S-10 pickups in 1982. You can see a few dings and some rust showing its ugly head here and there, but this looks like a solid pickup overall. The LUV was offered with either a 6-foot box or a 7.5-foot box and this appears to be the shorter one. It looks good with just some surface rust and some wear from 40 years of use.

The interior looks pretty nice overall, other than some cracks in the padded dash. I never drive my 1980 Dodge D-50 Sport pickup in the winter so having a four-wheel-drive isn’t an issue, but maybe I would if it had 4×4 as this LUV does.

The only engine available for the first-generation Chevy LUV in North America was an Isuzu G180Z, a 1.8L inline-four that had 75 horsepower. The seller says that there are no leaks, no smoke, it runs great, has a newer battery and everything works as it should. Have any of you owned a Chevy LUV 4×4?


  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Up until a year ago there was one of these in a diesel around our little town. Too, a Kid I worked with many years ago had one; fun little truck until he put the Chevy 350 motor in it. I wouldn’t ride with him after that…

    Like 9
  2. Buck Aroo

    Two things: It’s only a 4 speed. There’s twenty years of California fees due. Seller claims the rear was put on for photos, but the front matches. Both are weathered same as the vehicle.

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Buck Aroo – I fixed that extra gear mistake.

      Like 1
    • man ' war

      How does that work with CA, and the 20 years of fees due? I don’t live there. Too bad, I think.

      Like 1
      • Steve R

        The DMV website covers the subject pretty well. This truck will have dropped out of the DMV’s system by now, there will be fees, but not 20 years worth. The sellers states they have a title, if they didn’t this truck would be a hard pass.

        Steve R

        Like 1
      • Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

        You wouldn’t want to deal with an older car in CA, man’war-the Greenies are determined to do away with ANY I.C.E. by 2025 and this is the easiest way to do it. “Tax ‘til they don’t come back” is their mantra to further their push of an all electric vehicle world.

        Like 3
  3. Seth

    I had a new 1976 LUV blow two head gaskets the first six months. Sold it asap.

    Like 3
  4. Engident

    41-year-old Isuzu: hard no. Oh, wait, it’s a mini-truck? Shut up and take my money. I’m afraid the generation that might be interested in something like this doesn’t remember seeing them coughing smoke down the highway, sitting on the side of the road, or whipping up a dino-juice milkshake when the head gasket blows. There are reasons why you haven’t seen one anywhere but the internet in 25 years.

    Like 11
    • Scott

      This being solid with paperwork could be a real good resto mod with a modern crate mill for under 10k. Side by sides that you can’t take down the road are 2x that.

      Like 2
  5. HoA Howard A Member

    There’s one like this on my bicycle route that I inquired about, hasn’t moved in the 3 years I’ve been here, and probably just as well, they were poor vehicles. It filled a gap until Detroit got their heads out of their rears, and made their own. Mini-pickups were all the rage, and US had none. 4×4 aside, they had poor heaters, lousy seats, cramped inside, gutless things, and with your foot to floor all day offsets any decent gas mileage, and parts, of which you’ll need plenty, could be a problem. Fun to see one again, they didn’t last long.

    Like 9
    • DW

      What was so bad about the heater or seats?

      Like 1
      • HoA Howard A Member

        The seats were typical Asian style of the period, maybe okay for their skinny butts, but for the portly Americans looking to save a buck on gas, the mushed flat. What makes Asian heaters poor, is their lack of fresh air in the cabin. With heater cores the size of a pack of hotdogs, and 4 cylinders with not much coolant to begin with, the heater was quickly overwhelmed by the cold. It’s why you saw most Asian vehicles with frost on the inside the windows.

        Like 0
  6. DavidH

    I didn’t own one but I drove one for 6 months while working a summer job. It was a fleet vehicle identical to the one advertised. I was 20 years old driving a new 4×4 company pickup. Man, I was living the dream! I still like the styling and yes they were a little small and they aren’t around any longer for the reasons already mentioned.

    Like 4
  7. William Cockayne

    Junk new, expensive junk now. Ford Courier, Isuzu, Mitsubushy, etc. Made wheelbarrows full of money working on them way back in the early 80`s. Hey lets bring them back to the unsuspecting public!

    Like 2
  8. chrlsful

    a friend made these at the Framingham plant, Rainy Black Moon. Nice thing about it? he took one like this home, the Mikado model tho (up scale model). At the time he lived in Spencer. 30 mi/50 min one way soon burned ‘re out tho. This here is one reason there’s a mini truck Kraz (altho died out a bit these daze). Imagine wrkin on a new vehicle and then drivin one. I’d like that. I only get the used ones~

    Like 0
  9. wcshook

    I worked for John Jochem Chevrolet part time in the early 70’s. Service dept. had one that everybody DROVE, hard, including me. That little truck just kept on running! It was a blast! They were bare bones trucks, but you knew that going in. The body shop had one in for wreck repairs. Somebody failed to add coolant back in. Owner drove it home, noticed it was running hot, called and it was towed back in. The engine wasn’t ruined. I wouldn’t mind having one. I don’t care for the 4X4, but other than that, I wouldn’t mind. Most folks, who weren’t around, back in those days, fail to realize, NONE of the little trucks like the LUV, were the comfortable truck we have today. ALL of them were bare bones.

    Like 6
  10. nlpnt

    One thing about these is that all LUV 4x4s were stick shortbeds; both the automatic and the longbed were offered with 2wd only.

    Like 3
  11. man ' war

    I used to drive my 76 Chevette, 1.6L, 4spd in the winter, and it too had frost at times. That one was a daily. I would imagine if I had my 90 Mustang LX parked in the elements, and drove it during inclement weather, it too would have frost with its 2.3 turbo:) Of course the air doesn’t come out in the top vents. lol. One thing to consider: old is old no matter how few miles is claimed to actually have. In fact, I just replaced my heater core in the Mustang, and it was the original one with the Ford stamp on it! That solved my coolant smell in the car when the heater was switched to on.

    Like 1
  12. Desert Rat

    I liked to have it and drop a v6 Chevy in it but it’s already priced too high for what it is.

    Like 0
  13. BigDoc Richard Van Dyke Sr

    I had one back in the late 70’s early 80’s. I t was fun to drive easy to work on and got great gas mileage. I’m 6’1″ and I was pretty comfortable in it. The first time my sons had to wash a vehicle what a comedy of errors that was LOL.

    Like 1
  14. John Bauer

    Had one in the early 80s.traded it straight up for a 76 eldorado.best trade i ever made!

    Like 0
  15. RoughDiamond

    This looks really solid. I remember when people would spend tens of thousands of dollars customizing these small trucks with features like tilt beds.

    Like 1
  16. man ' war

    I went to look at a LUV Micado 4×4 a couple of years back. It was clean on the outside. Color was red with those white wheels. It even had a custom made bumper that apparently could house a winch. The inside needed some attention however with the dash all cracked up, etc. It was a standard. The lady said she bought it b/c she owned one before. This one wasn’t starting easily, and she was moving. I didn’t buy it; but it looked very presentable on the outside. I suspected that it needed some kind of fuel system work.

    Like 1
  17. bone

    I’m amazed there are still some of these around ; in New England these didn’t last long – It was hard to believe how fast they rusted . These and Courier pickups were well known to have their frames rot away between the cab and bed and it was not uncommon to see them sitting looking like a sway back horse

    Like 1
  18. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this LUV sold for $4,550.

    Like 1
    • Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

      SOMEONE got some LUV, anyway..

      Like 0

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