One Family Owned: 1976 Chevy LUV

Said to have resided in single family ownership since new and in storage for the last 30 years, this Chevy LUV pickup avoids many of the common pitfalls that take these obscure light-duty haulers off the road. Minimal rust and apparently ongoing TLC means it runs and drives quite well, and shows under 50,000 original miles. Find it here on eBay with bidding under $3K and the reserve unmet. 

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Marcus S. for the find. The LUV and its major competitor, the Ford Courier, represented an unusual era in America’s love affair with the pickup truck. The LUV is yet another example of a Japanese manufacturer’s product imported under a domestic brand name, as it traces it roots back to Isuzu. Considering companies like Toyota and Mazda were having some success with their small-bodied trucks, it’s no surprise that GM quickly hatched a plan to import a small truck without having to develop one from scratch.

Of course, if they had, we might actually have some options in the pickup truck market besides $50K luxo-barges with electronic tailgates and HID headlights that blind every driver unlucky enough to be in their path. This LUV shows that with the proper care, they were as indestructible as anything else that hailed from Japan’s early days of U.S. vehicle sales, with its spartan-yet-attractive interior holding up just fine, from the preserved dash top to the rubber liner on the floors. The seller notes there is minor surface rust in the bed and towards the front of the floors.

Imagine this: a pickup with under 100 b.h.p.! It was possible, although it may not have been pleasant. This LUV came from the factory with 75 b.h.p. and 88 lb.-ft. of torque, making all but the lightest loads feasible for hauling in the LUV’s bed. Still, the same people who are empty nesters and insist on buying a crossover vehicle might find a vehicle like the LUV suits their needs just fine. And, as many Toyotas have shown us, small trucks like these are happy to haul a camper attachment, so perhaps this LUV could find new life as a fuel-sipping R/V.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Good trucks, but I swear, they were made out of the thinnest metal known to man. I knew a few people that had these, and they rusted very quickly ( although, probably not much worse than any other Asian truck of the time) It soured many from buying another one, until the 80’s, when small pickups really gained steam. In ’76, however, small pickups were not accepted, and big trucks still ruled the road. We laughed at people who bought these. Funny how we’ve come full circle, and you can’t even buy a small truck like this today, everything is big trucks again. Unbelievable find.

    • Fred W.

      Mfr’s are really missing the boat- remember how well the Ranger and S-10 sold? When they finally bring one out again they will sell like hotcakes.

      • Mountainwoodie

        Couldn’t agree more. Have you seen how big a Chevy Colorado has become! Unfreaking believable. Unfortunately with the aged demographic of men with handicapped placards willing to shell out 50 K for a totally useless pickup, and the attendant profits per truck to each auto company, it will be a while before they, if ever, build “small” pickups again. I’m on the lookout for a Ranger 4×4 4 speed 4 cylinder with a long bed……if there is such a creature.

      • Clinton

        I was told that the size of the truck let’s the manufacturer get away with some sort of fuel economy garbage or collision standards . I don’t remember the exact verbiage so you would have to google it or do some research. So basically small trucks are a thing of the past brotha.

      • tugdoc

        I suppose it will be Colorado sized but coming I guess! https://www.topspeed.com/trucks/truck-reviews/ford/2018-ford-ranger-ar173508.html

  2. -Bear-

    I had a yellow ’76 LUV (“Light Utility Vehicle”) back in the late 80’s.
    It was a GREAT little truck! :-)
    I saw it parked on the side of the road with a For Sale sign in it, & bought it for something like $1200. It had very faded yellow paint (you could wipe it with your hand & turn your hand yellow in the process), a little minor rust in the lower front fenders, sloppy (worn) front suspension (ball joints, bushings, etc.), a carb that needed to be rebuilt, and a torn seat that was covered with a cheap saddle-blanket seat cover.
    Sounds like a pretty sad little truck?
    Yes, it was well worn. But it was also EXTREMELY RELIABLE! It never failed me & never left me stranded. I could ignore & neglect it for months (it was my 2nd car, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to let it sit unused for extended time periods), and after a few cranks it would ALWAYS start and run like a champ!
    It was also the perfect car for my weekend runs to Home Depot, for leaving in the airport parking lot for weeks at a time, and for letting a friend borrow when their car was in the shop (or if they needed to pick up some supplies at Home Depot). It wasn’t a car that I needed to worry about concerning “door dings” or weather damage (already done on both counts), & depreciation was not a factor (I actually sold it for much more than I paid for it after years of reliable & uneventful ownership).
    I just LUVED that truck!! :-)

  3. dave

    I have a 77 luv . And it is so fun to drive and easy to maintain. Also love the 26th in town . Why they don’t make a little truck like this now is beyond me . They are perfect for some one who wants a truck for in town commute

  4. Miguel

    What I remember about these trucks was at the tap of the key the engine fires up.

    That doesn’t happen on most cars and certainly on none of the new cars.

  5. Tony S

    I read somewhere that when the S-10 came out GM still had hundreds (?) in stock that were destroyed. Sad.

  6. HeadMaster1

    The Isuzu/GM small truck did a 180. In the 70’s Isuzu produced the LUV for Chevy, but then in the late 90’s Chevy produced the Hombre for Isuzu….

  7. Gay Seattle Car Nut

    Sweet looking LUV. I remember this generation Isuzu/Chevy LUV. My favourites have always been the pre-1979 LUVs, with the 4 headlamps and grille.

    Like 2
  8. Richard Baines

    When these were first imported they were marketed gradually across the country from the west coast. We bought one out of Denver for an auto parts delivery vehicle and were so impressed we bought five of them for $10000.00. They were bulletproof, even with teen drivers. We later took one and dropped a 327/turbo trans in it. Was a blast to drive.

  9. Allan

    I bought a 75 Luv brand new after my 75 ford truck couhed up its motor after only 379 miles. Drove the Luv in Washington DC for two years then drove it across country to Oregon. Great little truck. Kept it for 12 more years in “no-salt” Oregon.

  10. chad

    this 1s in such good shape cuz from a recent importer (RHD).

  11. Navi318

    People talk about the Ranger and S-10’s, yet even the first gen versions were half a foot longer than these trucks! You could see the trend that American car builders start with a small truck and slowly, eventually make it into a big truck as seen with today’s Colorado, etc. American car companies love them a big truck!

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