Mmm Mmm Mikado! 1978 Chevrolet LUV

The first-generation LUV (light utility vehicle) which was made for the 1972-1980 model years. It’s the purest iteration of the model, which ended in 1982 after Chevy came out with the S-10. This 1978 Chevrolet LUV Mikado is on Craigslist in the Chicago, Illinois area with an asking price of $2.500. Go here if the CL link goes away. Although it may not look like it from the photos, the seller says that “there is minimal rust on the frame and underside” and there is very “little rust on the body– almost completely clean.” That’s always good to hear.

As with most Craigslist ads, the photos aren’t too abundant, there are really only two that show the body of the truck, unfortunately. But, in an earth-shattering chain of events destined to knock the earth off of its axis, the seller has included an engine photo! I know! For 1978, the LUV was partially-restyled, losing two of its former four headlights and a new grille was added as well as a new instrument cluster. They also added a 7.5-foot box option in addition to the 6-foot box that had been the only choice. This appears to be the 6-footer but it’s hard to tell WITHOUT ANY PHOTOS OF IT.. cough.. And, it looks like the tailgate is missing, which isn’t good. The seller does mention that they have more photos if a person is interested in seeing them. I’m not quite sure why they aren’t on the CL ad since it’s literally $0.00 for the ad or to add photos to your already free ad.

Mmmm mmm good, there’s nothing like a red interior. And, black over red is so cool, so chic, so Rat-Pack’ian. I love that combo. The driver’s seat has the usual wear that you’d expect from a 39-year old vehicle with 92,500 miles on it. The sassy Mikado trim package included a three-spoke steering wheel and a nice, herringbone fabric interior. I hope that the fabric on the driver’s seat is still good and it’s just the vinyl on the side bolsters (such that they are), that needs help, that shouldn’t be hard to match. This is a really great-looking interior, the dash doesn’t appear to have any cracks in it which is outstanding.

As the Chevy LUV was an Isuzu Faster in real life, it naturally has an Isuzu engine. This is the only engine that was available in the first-gen LUV, Isuzu’s G180Z, a 1.8L inline-four with around 75-78 hp. A diesel engine would be available in the next generation LUV. The seller says that they’ve taken this truck “around the country 3 times” and I bet that it would probably do another trip or two, but they also mention that “there’s currently a little ticking noise which I’m almost 100% is a bad input shaft bearing.” You’ll want to get that fixed before heading out on another cross-country trip. Have any of you owned a first-generation LUV? Is $2,500 a decent price for this one?

Fast Finds


  1. scotto

    looks like tailgate is there, in the open position. if you look close at the first pic, you can just see the edge of the tailgate and the manual latch hanging down

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I think you’re right, scotto!

  2. Ikey Heyman

    I owned the next generation Isuzu, and while it was a decent little truck, the tin worm put an end to it. For this era, the 4×4 model is the hot item, but if this truly only has minimal rust as stated, it could be a good deal.

  3. King Al

    A friend had one for years as a daily driver. He liked it for that purpose.

  4. Tim

    An uncle of mine back in the 80’s took one of these and dropped a Chevy small block 400 in it. Talk about scream.

  5. Chris

    I believe this vehicle is 39 years old. If it’s 49 years old I just gained ten years and that’s not a good thing. I remember when these trucks were everywhere and I also remember here in the northeast just about everyone of them rusting through.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha, good catch, Chris.

    • Glen Bamforth

      Without a doubt, the fastest rusting vehicle I ever owned. I did work it hard though. First day, driving home from the dealer, after jump starting it, light snow falling, turned on wipers, wipers went up, crossed each other. Touched the brakes and slid sideways across a single lane bridge. An omen I should have payed attention to.

      Like 1
  6. Rich Tague

    Ha Ha , quick Story A LUV truck falls off a Car carrier when new , Cny School Uses the dented roof wonder for Mechanics class FF about 8-10 years First Job I get as a Parts delivery what Vehicle do I get to use …….U guessed it a 79 Black Luv …roof repaired ofcorse, had to let her go about 2 years after . Now Cars of choice …..CITATION :( not too bad A carb V6

  7. Coventrycat

    Isuzu Faster is an oxymoron – my parents had a LUV of that vintage, and it was a real slug.

  8. Steve

    We had an ’81 Isuzu Pup’ (very similar to the LUV) It had a 4 cyl 4 speed, I don’t know the rear end ratio but it would run 72ish wide open………..but if shifted right it would rip the tires in first, give a loud bark in 2nd and chirp 3rd gear………….maybe thats why my dad stopped letting me drive his cars when I was a kid……lol

  9. Larry

    Our Chevy Luv was a black 4×4 with white wheels similar to this one (not mine – found on google). It was a stick, and had a black fiberglass cap. Good little truck for upstate NY winters, although rust was a problem. The cab was SMALL. The pull-and-twist handle parking brake was brutal – always hit your knee when you engaged it, and then you hit your knee on the engaged handle when you got in the truck again.

  10. Doug Towsley

    These were all the rage for V8 conversions back in the day, but unless more work was done, they overheat, underbraked and rear gearing is insanely high.
    I have a 73 that was a V8 and can attest to all of the above,. partially addressed some of the above, but now thinking of selling. Motor is out so do i go V8 again? V6 Chevy (have a runner sitting here) or stick in a Nissan 4 cyl with 5 speed? With it being pre 75 these are getting somewhat desirable as no emissions testing required plus nostalgia.

    • Jeff Brown

      Doug Towsley,

      Do you have any pictures of the ’73? I have a ’72, but it needs a lot of work if it could ever be roadworthy again.

      • Doug Towsley

        Here is mine, I would have to check the title but I believe 1973 (could be 72). Did a trade for it in the early 1990s for a Dirty Duster with the leaning tower of power. It had a V8 350 SBC, Edelbrock, holley, and all typical hot rod stuff. Mallory Dual points, Accell coil, headers, short turbo mufflers, mag wheels etc. Turbo 350 with Shift kit (manual or auto w/ tightend shift points and a little neck snapping) and B&M Shifter
        No power steering, and while insanely fast You had to plan your use of brakes as they fade fast. Rear gearing was more dragster,, 4 something ratio? I installed Volvo bucket seats as that was a popular 80s/90s thing plus they were adjustable and Leather. It overheated easily in traffic. (Born to run??) So, i experimented with thermostatic controlled fans and found Chevy Citations had a good electric fan at that time. Nowdays there are some good systems on the market.
        You can do wheelies in it without too much effort and of course burn offs to your hearts content. It was fun with the Rumpity cam to pull up to kids in their tuner cars with fart pipes and the only real performance in them was their thumping bass. I would slide up by them at a light and with my stereophonic Kraco cassette deck, Pioneer power booster with 12 band graphic EQ and 6×9 Pioneers in boxs behind the seat and crappy Kraco door panel speakers I was outclassed by electronics but it did not matter.

        My whole truck shook and thumped with every Rev of that small block and the big cam. Kids would point and whisper to each other. Drop it down into L2 with the B&M shifter and when it went Green Launch it hard at full throttle and let them hear the power of a SBC. leave it in L2 and let it ramp up then chirp into 2nd. Endless fun. But it WAS a death trap on wheels. I have a double roll bar and was planning a full cage for it.

        Mine has some custom body work, shaved door handles, (You use a Ford Key to open the door) The dreaded sunroof and of course that ridiculous visor, the full width rear view mirror and other period customizing. Been in storage in the family barn until November for years and years. Time to clean it up, line up all the extra parts I have for it and offer it with choice of drivetrains.
        The original SBC V8 with Turbo 350
        Chev V6 with Turbo 350 (I have a donor car and choice of parts off it. 1979 Malibu)
        1981 Nissan NapZ 2000cc with 5 speed and all the electronics to run the stock EFI and related parts.

        I also have a set of jump seats with the O-S**T! Handles out of a Suburu Brat. Roll bar, crash bar, tailgate and have a line on a short step side box if wanted. Granted, This picture is not flattering, but will clean up pretty nice.

        Looking locally, ton of interesting LUVS of all years and 2 wd & 4 wd and priced from super cheap deals to $8k-$9k for tricked out ones.

        Loving this one, check out the snazzy interior and period accy,. Looking at this I am hearing the final strains of “Dream Weaver” folowed by some Doobie Brothers on the 8 track.

        Looks fast, somebody did a nice job.

        Kind of weird and a little Pimpish, but was probably coolest guy around back in the day. Dig that Purple!

        $2100 and probably take less, Pretty decent IMHO.

        People that beat up on these I dont get. They were a little economy truck but sure wish stuff like this made today. Im into Nissan/Datsuns as well as vintage American and these little trucks were a great little niche business and think car companies missed the market when they stopped offering them.

  11. Brian

    I had a 74 in the late 70s while in high school which had a FACTORY installed Buick 231v6 and 4wd (do your homework and you will see this option). I literally pulled stumps and pulled much bigger trucks out of the muck. It was a very fun truck.

  12. A.C.Z.

    I remember seeing one like this in the early 80s. It was owned by a fella that worked for Crane Cams. It had a Buick carbureted turbo motor and 350 trans put in it. A very sweet swap. Neat, clean and plenty of room. Strong runner, too.

  13. Pappy2d

    Bought a new Mikado in 74. Cute truck. Buzz bomb engine, and the sheet metal was so thin, you could feel braille letters through it. Rust ensued.

  14. Dogfather

    My father bought one of the first Chevy LUV trucks in 1972 for the then bargain price of $2300 . Not bad for a brand new truck but I remember that the sheet metal was so thin he said it was made of recycled beer cans

  15. Gay Car Nut

    I remember this generation Chevy LUV. My uncle Dave and aunt Sandy drove one like this. Theirs was the same colour. $2500 sounds like a lot of money for a truck of this vintage, but if the condition is as nice as the owner says it is, everything on the truck is original to the truck, and they all work like they should, then you have a damn good truck to drive and to work with. Better take care of it.

  16. Gordon Thomas

    I bought a 78 Mikado in 1987 right after my wife and I had our first child. 4 wheel drive, wagon wheel mags, Roll Bar in the back, a four banger beast. One of those rare occasions in Oklahoma City where snow and ice was so bad no one could go anywhere. I put that little rig in 4 wheel and we went all over the place. It was a beast. I think I paid 2k for it back then. Wish I still had it.

  17. Car Guy

    I believe the Mikkado 4×2 package added the extra chrome, specific wheel covers, and the deluxe interior. Pretty classy back in the 70’s. How about that red headliner?.

  18. Gay Car Nut

    I’d buy a 1st gen LUV if I could have a 2nd gen Isuzu diesel engine installed under its hood. I wonder if it would fit? :)

  19. David A Kassin

    My dad had one of these, wonderful truck with low power. My 82
    S10 had the engine from Japan and went thru cylinder heads every 25000 miles. That’s why they quit producing them.

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