Nicest One Left? 1986 Isuzu P’up Turbo Diesel

All I can say is, WOW! This truck may not appeal to everyone but to those of us who are wicked huge vintage Japanese vehicle fans, and also pickup fans, not to mention fans of box-checking-vehicles… WOW! Anyone looking for what may be the nicest example of a 1986 Isuzu P’up Turbo Diesel left on the planet, this one can be found here on craigslist and here on eBay in Lubbock, Texas, an area that knows a thing or two about tough trucks. The seller is asking a very ambitious $11,500 for this museum-worthy unicorn. Thanks to Roger for sending in this tip!

How was that for flowery language concerning this little truck? Wait, did I just use the word flowery in regard to a turbo-diesel pickup that’s located in Texas?! I meant that in the most manly-man way possible. Anyone worth the leather that their work boots are made out of should at least appreciate that a truck like this Isuzu has survived this long and would know that Isuzu makes some of the toughest trucks out there. Whether they’re fans of Japanese vehicles of not, and we know that a lot of you aren’t, this is one nice, rare truck. That asking price, though, ouch.

There is a reason for that price: this truck isn’t original, it has had a body-off strip and $4,500 paint job and has a fully-rebuilt engine. I’m not sure if a seller really ever gets their restoration costs back, or very few of them do. Is this one case where they will get their asking price? I think if it were a 4×4 they might, but I’m not sure if a 2WD truck, no matter how perfect it is, will bring that kind of money unless a buyer has a particular memory or history with this exact truck and has just sold 4 measly shares of Amazon stock at $2,654 per share as I write this. Ugh. $2,654 per share and they’re starting to show commercials on Prime Video… but I digress.

The Isuzu Faster pickup was known to a generation of Chevy fans as the LUV as it was their first entry into the small truck market in the US. The first-gen Faster/LUV was a much more engaging design, in my opinion, but this second-generation Faster/P’up (short for pickup) would probably be a more ultimately useful truck. This one is a long bed and boy that really is a long truck bed on such a little truck. I would have mudflaps on this truck almost the instant that I pulled into our driveway with it. Yes, this is one that I would fly in and drive home, without blinking. This truck is originally from Arizona and the seller says that it has exactly zero rust. My favorite phrase in all of autodom.

Not being an extra-cab or what Isuzu called a Spacecab, there isn’t much storage room in the cab portion of this truck, unfortunately, but for a small pickup, the bed has a ton of room. And, like everything else, it looks almost perfect with a spray-on bedliner. I would have liked to see them not add a spray-on bedliner, but that’s just me. The interior also looks almost like new other than some discoloration on some of the interior bits, probably from the hot Texas sun, and some loss of padding on the driver’s seat. My interior guy could fix that in an hour. I never, ever like seeing a dash cover in the photos. 90% of the time they’re hiding troubles rather than preventing trouble. That’s the case here, they say that there is a small crack in the dash.

This is Isuzu’s C223T, a 2.2L inline-four diesel with something over 60 hp, although some sources say up to 80 hp. The seller says that it’s been rebuilt from top to bottom and everything works perfectly including the AC. They “also replaced the clutch, flywheel, pressure plate, throw out bearing, alternator, starter, new u-joints, carrier bearing, new tires, and resealed the injection pump.” This looks like quite a truck. Any thoughts on an Isuzu turbo-diesel pickup, or the asking price? Have any of you gotten your restoration costs back when you’ve sold a vehicle? I have not.

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Comments

  1. 8thNote 8thNote Member

    Restoring classic cars and trucks is a labor of love. Especially when restoring pedestrian every-man models such as this Isuzu. The reason there are none left is because they were considered disposable at the time (buy it cheap, use it up, repeat).

    This seller is out of his mind with the asking price. I think $6000 would be a stretch for The World’s Best ’86 Pup. The only way to make money on a restoration is start with with something rare and something that was desirable when new (Hemi Mopars, Aston Martin DBs, Etc). ’86 Pups were not rare in ’86, and they were not particularly desirable then or now. Not to say this one isn’t nice. Just not $11k novelty item nice.

    Like 13
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    These were a decent truck in their day. Not nearly as common as a Toyota, or especially a Datsun/Nissan but they did OK. They had a VE injection pump very much like the one on the earlier Dodge-Cummins 5.9. Only problem was an extremely short-lived throttle shaft bushing; it would get loose then start to leak like a sieve with holes in it. The only solution was to buy a complete new top cover which also lasted about 40K miles. I took them, bored the throttle shaft bores out and modified them to accept the cintered bushing that the VW applications used. Problem solved. Now to make them pull a little better…

    Like 10
  3. Stevieg

    I like this little truck but I agree with other comments, this is way overpriced. I am thinking $6,000 tops.
    I would like to own this one too, although I doubt I would fit in it lol.

    Like 6
  4. Jcs

    Odd that the steering wheel looks like it came straight out of a Monte Carlo.

    Like 3
    • SubGothius

      Well, GM did own about 34% of Isuzu at that time, and if the US had differing regulations for collapsible steering wheels vs. Japan, swapping to a stock USDM wheel from the GM parts bin would have been a cheap and easy solution.

      Like 3
    • lc

      Monte? No, it looks like the steering wheel of the last gen El Caminos.

  5. bone

    These trucks didn’t last long in CT. ,they ran like clockwork, but the bodies rusted away faster then any other car or truck around here – The frames used to rot away and break between the bed and cab too .

    Like 3
  6. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    LS Swap? (Just kidding!) Is there an Isuzu Truck Museum? This is a rare beast. Thanks, Scotty, for the nice write-up. I almost wanted to buy it myself after reading your flowery yet manly prose. It’s perfect for taking those two kitchen trash bags and a bin of recycling down the hill once a week, or for when you don’t want to put mulch bags in the trunk of your Caddy. I hope it finds the perfect home! As you say, someone who had one years ago may pony up the cash, but for the asking price I’d want zero defects. Would love to hear from the buyer!

    Like 5
  7. gtyates

    My father-in-law had the Chevy version. His was an ’82 model, but he bought it brand new in 1984 as a very left-over new stock truck. The dealership he bought it form had several. Tough little truck, but SLOW as Christmas when on the road. His had vinyl seats, no a/c, hot as heck in the summer. He had a small bass boat and it pulled it fine, though very slowly.. His was silver with a grey interior. The manual trans was the only thing that made it interesting to drive. Thanks for a memory. I do believe the price on this one is a bit ambitious..

    Like 5
  8. SubGothius

    Reckon the turbo may account for sources differing about the 60 vs. 80 hp output.

    Like 2
  9. Chris in Pineville

    probably the best truck I ever had was a ’98 Dodge Cummins diesel.
    since I no longer need a big honker of a truck like that, I’d love to have a diesel mini-truck like this……
    but I agree with all above that the asking price here is a trifle ambitious.

    Like 2
  10. JohnnyB

    Nice truck, over ambitious price. I may be wrong, but I thought the turbo was only available in the Trooper. At least the only turbo diesel Pup’s I was aware of had transplants from Troopers.

  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking Isuzu truck. This would be the nicest I’d ever seen. I remember when these are on the road. Even given its condition and rarity, $11,000 sounds rather optimistic. I’d be willing to pay up to $8,000 for it.

  12. Pete Phillips

    New paint, new tires, new clutch and pressure plate, rebuilt engine, resealed injection pump, and it is air-conditioned with power brakes! You are basically getting a brand new compact truck, well-equipped for $11,000. Has anybody priced new or slightly used pickup trucks lately? I would say this one is priced reasonably for what you are getting , and I”ll bet the seller has quite a bit more than $11,000 in it. The only hesitation I would have is finding parts to maintain this.

  13. Amorypaz Amorypaz Member

    I am all for the seller setting the price on a truck that just isn’t out there in the collector market right now but if this gets $10,000 expect to see them come out of the woodwork!! Now that said, if you are going to ask over $10K for even a rare upgrade on a 2WD, late 80’s sport truck (let’s be honest no one bought this for its towing capacity) at least detail the rebuilt engine and replace the tired interior trim with some nice NOS pieces. The engine might be rare but the trim…not.

    Regarding these trucks having rust problems the body off respray is a good sign. I would ask some specifics regarding the treatment of the chassis and underbody. Cool truck though!

  14. Stan Kaminski

    My favorite definition of “rust free”. No charge for the rust.

    Like 2
  15. Chris Londish Member

    These started off as a Chevy Luv in Australia and later became the Rodeo but the turbo didn’t come out till they got the V6 did make that much diifference to what was a pretty ordinary performer

  16. steve.

    The rebuild is a concern. I had the same engine in a Trooper and it is AWESOME. Great mileage and it pulls well even with the A/C blasting.
    However..there were 3 different connecting rods. Only the 3rd design was up to the job. There is a way to tell which rods were in it from the factory and it had something to do with which type breather system was on it. Engines built the with the “good rods” were the only ones which came with that system. Don’t recall now how to tell. Mine had the second gen rods which meant a tear down when it started knocking. Nice truck..too much money…until you go price a NEW truck and…….

    Like 1
  17. Paolo

    In the mid 1980s I worked at a Chrysler Dealer which had an Isuzu franchise on the same lot. This was the SF Bay area, a very import friendly area. I never quite understood what Isuzu was trying to do marketing wise. They had a great television ad campaign with “Joe Isuzu”. On the ground however they seemed the most tentative, timid company. In 1985 they were changing their product line ending the RWD I-mark and very slowly introducing the FWD version which were nice cars. They had the Impulse sports car which looked great but wasn’t much performance wise and the Trooper
    The pickups were of the very plain vanilla quality, rubber mat and no options. We kept hearing that Isuzu was going to bring out new and improved products soon. Always soon.
    Isuzu was a tough sell. Nobody ever heard of them. They looked pretty dull compared to the Toyotas and Nissans that were selling like crazy in the same market. It should have been a snap but Isuzu moved so slowly and was so conservative.
    We could sell every Trooper above sticker price all day long. We couldn’t get enough literally. We might get 3 or 4 at a time and poof they were gone.

    Despite sales spiffs and incentives we couldn’t move the pickups We still had a couple 1984s on the lot in 1985. Strangely enough I recall 2 separate sales to men from El Salvador who intended to drive them back home.
    These were actually very well made and priced at $4999. I almost bought one.
    Isuzu, good products, they just never figured out the US market.

    This one for $10K? All he needs is one interested buyer. It’s tough to shop around for something that exists in such limited quantity and this is likely the best their of them all.

  18. Spence

    The issue with the turbocharged P’UPs was the connecting rods. The engine was never designed to be turbocharged. When a turbo was added the engine started snapping connecting rods. Isuzu made changes and came out with what are referred to as 2nd generation connecting rods but the rods still failed. Isuzu then designed 3rd generation rods that were much stronger and could handle the 80hp. The biggest problem is you cannot buy these 3rd gen rods and parts are hard to come by. The best little diesel of the 80’s was the Mitsubishi 2.3 turbo diesel. Not only were the 0-60 times half that of their counterparts, the engine is still being produced to this day and new parts and new crate motors can be easily had anywhere in the world.

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