Love Small Trucks? 1980 Chevrolet LUV

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Although it’s only showing 25,576 miles, there are some aspects of this little Chevrolet pickup that lead me to believe it may be 125k. That being said, regardless of how many miles it actually has, this truck is in remarkably preserved condition. It’s located in Payson, Arizona and is listed for sale here on eBay where bidding is currently below $1k.

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I remember these little trucks rusting away almost as soon as they came off the boat (they were actually produced by Isuzu in Japan), so I’m guessing this one has lived at least most of its life in Arizona. As a 1980, this is the last year of the first generation of the LUV, which was introduced in 1972 as a quick way for GM to get a small truck into the US market. This one appears very clean and may well be showing its original paint (albeit faded in places).

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Although the seller reports some nicks and scratches in the sheetmetal, as well as a bent front bumper, I’m amazed at the condition of the bed. Of course, it would have been nice if the seller had cleaned it up before taking the picture, but the fact that most of the paint has survived is amazing. Maybe that low mileage count on the odometer is real?

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New seat upholstery and air conditioning (in unknown working condition) liven up what is a truly basic interior. It looks like someone took the time to closely match the vinyl part of the seats to the door panels when they chose the upholstery; that’s nice to see. I suppose it’s possible that the Arizona sun baked the original seats and that’s what caused the need for replacement?

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The 1.8 liter, 80 horsepower inline four cylinder engine was considered pretty agricultural even by 1980 standards, but according to the seller it runs very well. The LUV (Light Utility Vehicle) is an interesting chapter in GM history, and when was the last time you’ve ever seen one? If you want to learn more about them, take a look at this article from LUVTruck. Let us know if you’d be interested in showing this little LUV some love in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Chas

    How much do you think he would charge if you just wanted to buy the tailgate sticker? Did Jesus die to save sinners who bought Chevy Luv’s?

    • Cassidy

      Jesus died so all would know eternal life in Heaven. Jesus doesn’t care what you drive, its your heart that He’s interested in!

      Like 1
      • ydnar

        Amen!

      • Doug Towsley

        Thats true, I am also sure he would yield on the freeway and certainly never clog up the right lane to faster traffic. As to what Jesus drove, some say he was a Mopar guy, and had a Fury, some say he drove Adam and Eve with his Fury as well. Others claim he is an import car guy. Jesus drove a Honda but didn’t talk about it. “For I did not speak of my own accord” – John 12:49. (source).
        There is much discussion about Moses and his preference for British makes. I personally think he was a Triumph motorcycle guy cause in my opinion, thats the way he rolls. But others say it had to be have been a Triumph car. TR4A like mine? Regardless most accounts report whatever it was had a loud exhaust because “The hills echo with Moses Triumph”

      • ydnar

        Blasphemy!! Heresy!!

        ;>) Very well done Doug.

        I thought HE had an Asspen.

      • BMW/Tundra guy

        Well spoken with a funny twist!!! Love it!!! And Him!!
        As for the gardener, yours may be named jesus but my carpenters name is JESUS!

        Oh yeah, the truck. Looks sort of like my old Toyota, minus the long bed and A/C. Looking at the d/s door striker tells me it has either been repainted or in a heck of an accident! Minus the rust issue, when it crops up, it will run forever! Though, I do wonder where you would buy Isuzu parts?

    • Matthew

      I’m first vehicle I drove was Chevy luv u loved it bring back memory of my father. His was yellow too.

  2. Woodie Man

    If my gardener Jesus is down with the truck, so am I!

  3. JW

    Hey if the truck is good enough for Jesus I guess it’s good enough for me, only if he will make it magically appear in Kansas City area for free.

  4. ydnar

    There are as many rocks in the truck as there are on his driveway.

    The truck is in great shape, except for the dash.

    Where’s the “Luv”?

    It would not surprise me to see this turd hit 5K.

  5. Van

    I wanted to cut the back out of two cabs, weld them together into a 4 door
    The Luvalanche

  6. Terry J

    The LUV is pretty cool. Back when they were laying around dead on streets and junk yards, swapping in a sbc was popular. They have a torsion bar front suspension, so all you gotta do is crank some more torque into the bars to handle the weight. Of course a trannny and rear end swap is needed, but those that did that found it to be a pretty straight forward project and a cheap way to create a very fast hauler. :-) Terry J

  7. Todd Zuercher

    Long bed – even more rare. They don’t rust much here in AZ – just get beat to death.

  8. DREW V.

    I worked at a Chevy Dealer my Sr. yr in high school and the we had a 79′ model as a shop truck. Good running and damn near indestructible. Only prob was the clutch wouldn’t hold up to the extreme torture we put it thru… Several of these came thru the used car part of the dealer and I remember the spot welds on the bed sides rusting out where the wheel house was welded to the bed side . Also the single wall bedsides showed every lil nick & ding that occurred from cargo hitting the side, parts, tools etc getting carelessly cast in the back…

  9. William H

    These things were a dime a dozen back in the mid-’80’s, literally bought one for $50 and one guy gave me one just to haul it off. We used to stuff whatever random small block chevy in them we had sitting around at the time and take them to Little River to race. Someone mentioned the torsion bars earlier. They had an amazing amount of adjustment in them. You could drop the nose almost to the pavement or crank it up to the point of looking like a gasser. Lot of good memories tinkering with these little trucks.

  10. Steve

    I worked at Long Chevrolet in high school as a new car porter. We had hundreds of these trucks if not thousands go thru the dealership. They were so fun to drive and easy to learn how to drive a manual transmission.

    Fun fun fun

  11. Cassidy

    I had a ’78 with a step-side bed. Sharp looking little truck, that little anemic 4-banger did all it could when trying to get up to speed, it sure made swapping in a SBC a very attractive option. I ended up trading it for a ’78 Mustang II with a smog equippment smothered 302, but it was a jet compared to that Luv! It was reliable, but oh sooooo slow!

  12. Dave Deal

    I bought a ’75 brand new off the truck. Drove it for 25 years and over 325000 miles on the original engine. I did become an expert at roadside carb repair. I could take the carb off, tighten the 3 castings back up and be on the road again in 15 minutes. I embarrassed my kids daily by forcing them to ride in the little rust bucket, but it didn’t owe me anything when I retired it to the junkyard!

  13. Paul B

    One little known detail about these is that they had very comfortable ride and seating compared to other small Japanese trucks of the day. Whoever gets this one will be lucky because these are very enjoyable and comfortable to drive, yet they can still haul a good load.

  14. Doug Towsley

    I appreciate the posting, I try to watch these when they sell. The market for them has been growing, people have nostalgia for them. I wish some automaker would wake up and make little economy trucks like this again, I have had a lot of Datsuns too, Toyotas were good in the day. Very affordable, reasonable gas mileage most of the time, and easy to fix. I currently own a 73 Luv, Mine had a small block V8 with a Turbo 350 w shift kit, headers, cam, all the usual hot rod stuff.
    It was loads of fun, a real rocket ship, Brakes were not real good with that big V8 and overheated quick. Not enough room for afan so you had to run a pusher electric fan and it was easy to overheat if you were not careful. I Could tap tap tap, then nail the throttle and it would easily bring the front wheels off the ground. It started smoking one day, pulled the motor, its been sitting since. Trying to decide if i want to put in a Datsun 4 cyl with 5 speed or go back to a V8. Doesnt matter to me, I have the parts here to go either way, but I want to sell mine. Not that i dont like the truck, just too many vehicles. But the prices on these are rising, some cheap ones still out there, but Im surprised to see how much some are going for.

  15. Tim

    I had an ’80 LUV with the deisel option & 5speed- great mileage but very little power.
    Sold it around 1990 tony brother in law & shortly thereafter the frame rusted through right behind the cab.

  16. Jubjub

    I took my drivers test in my brother’s ’77 LUV with an automatic. Really putt putty but very acceptable as a ride.

    A friend of my brother had one with a Buick 215, neat and different V8 swap, but it always had cooling problems.

  17. Cattoo CattooButt Member

    My aunt and uncle bought one of these. My brother ended up with it. He drove it and took care of it until he absent mindedly while changing the oil went to town after putting oil in it and not replacing the oil pan plug. Motor seized and was towed home. I recall the luv being a four wheel drive too and believe he put a different engine in and kept driving it.

  18. james burton

    a buddy of mine dropped a 502 bbc in one of these with a 400 turbo 9 “” ford. i remember the first time he took it to the drag strip. looked all orig. went like a 6.14 . the teck guys like to have had a stroke and promptly told him to never bring it back till he put a cage and so on in it.he never did and just street raced it. man what a sleeper.

    • ydnar

      800-900 HP? Can’t hide that. That’s what it takes to run 6’s. That kind of power would have twisted that little truck into a pretzel.

    • Doug Towsley

      I have seen a number of other LUVS besides my own with a V8, but never saw any with a big block, that would be intense! For the record, I didnt build mine, I swapped a Dirty Dusty with a leaning tower of power in it for it. Guy needed a work car and I liked the v8 Luv as a toy. I did make some changes, added leather Volvo seats, swapped holley 4 barrels and a few other changes. The car was scary fast though. I knew in a accident it was dangerous. Growing up i went to school with a girl whose Uncle was well known as a hot rodder, and he had a number of very fast cars and great engine builder. He was driving a luv with a built small block that wrecked and that poor guy was never the same. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). On mine, if i were keeping it, I have long thought mine REALLY needs a roll cage. No 2 ways about it. But I totally agree on what a great sleeper they are. Sometimes i drove around with a velocity stack on the 4 barrel with the hood off. People went nuts. But often i kept the hood on and a low profile Moroso air cleaner. It is TOTALLY worth the price of admission to pull up somewhere where a bunch of kids are with their import tuner car(s), roller skate wheels and fart pipe who think hotrodding is a obnoxious fart pipe can and a thumping stereo playing Enimem, snoop dog, or limp bizkit. It was great to see the look on their face with the lumpy cam with my truck sitting there and shaking & rumbling, and if you tapped the throttle how the whole truck twitched and lunged. Wanna race? I had a girlfriend at the time who was a sweet girl, but not really a skilled driver. We went to a party and always agreed one would stay sober. I got pretty drunk. She was a bit overwhelmed with the truck. First intersection she nailed the throttle too hard. And when you did that you needed to counter steer a little, Instead we smoked the tires and did a 360 in the intersection with her screaming. ME SCREAMING as well! Take your damn foot off the throttle! It was quite a show, I was relieved we didnt hit anybody or anything. Thats when i learned she needed driving lessons. Besides that in a panic situation she would freeze and often close her eyes. Signed her up for a performance driving course at PIR. Sweet girl, but jeez, that scared the hell out of us both. The rest of that drive home that night was pretty interesting. I couldnt imagine if she had tried your big block Luv.

      • ydnar

        A very good friend of mine in Dallas had a Ford Courier that he put a 351C in it, and traded for a set of Webbers (8v) off of a Pantera he stuck on the engine. That truck as well as any other mini truck with a lot of engine up front would never hook up without a lot of tweaking to the suspension. They sure were fun to watch though.

  19. Ed P

    I had a Luv and later a Courier as a company work truck. The Luv was much more dependable. The Courier kept eating camshafts.

  20. JCW

    Had a luv in mid 80’s took frt. Suspension out. Put leaf springs and jeep axles frt. and rear. Sbc and automatic w/full time transfer case from a blazer frenched antenna flattened t. gate hand build double sq. tube bumpers custom int. And paint e whole nine yards. 4x mag. saw it wanted to put in mag only problem at that point did not have the engine fancy enough for them. No chrome and stuff. Ex-wife missed brake and nailed throttle lost control up embankment and ended on roof. Lucky no one hurt. Would love to do it again.

  21. Norm Wrensch

    I still have a 75 LUV that I brought up from Arizona in the mid 80’s it’s had small blocks in it since 78. last engine was a 302 Chevy with turbo 350 and 9″ ford. it’s been sitting for 20 yrs now. But will soon be back on the street with a mild 327 and 700R4. I put AMC disc brakes in the front so I could stop the thing. It would run mid 13’s real easy, but with the original drum brakes it it was a real bear to stop.

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