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Tough LUV: 1981 Chevrolet LUV 4×4 Diesel

This 1981 Chevrolet LUV 4×4 diesel pickup looks like a pragmatic, no-nonsense pickup, maybe a work truck for someone who just wants or needs a small truck rather than a full-sized one. That would be people like me and a few million other folks who never need anything bigger than a truck this size. And there’s no rust, or rust-through, so that’s a good thing. The seller has it listed here on eBay in Stockton, California and they have a buy-it-now price of $3,750 listed or you can make an offer. Thanks to Patrick S. for sending in this tip!

The Chevrolet LUV (Light Utility Vehicle) was actually an Isuzu Faster pickup rebadged for Chevy to get in on the small truck market. They went away after the 1982 model year due to Chevrolet’s new S-10 pickup. The second-generation LUV was only available here for 1981 and 1982.

At first I didn’t think that this chartreuse and light blue stripe could be factory original but it looks like it is. It isn’t the tough paint scheme that I would have thought would be available for a diesel 4×4 pickup, whatever that means. I like it, though, any pops of color on or in a vehicle is a good thing. I’m so incredibly tired of white, black, and silver vehicles, ugh. Although, half of mine are silver now that I think about it.

There’s more color inside. The seller says that this interior is original and it looks good in spots and well-used and well-used-up in other spots. Namely, the top of the dash is trashed so the next owner may be searching junkyards and/or online sources for a replacement. Or, at least a good dash cover for now. They say that everything works, so that’s good news.

The bed looks used but not bad seeing that this truck is 39 years old now. There are no engine photos, unfortunately, but this one has Isuzu’s 2.2L inline-four diesel with about 60 horsepower. The seller says that after about 15 minutes or so, the engine starts to get hot. It doesn’t overheat but just gets hot. Geo? Howard? What would that be from? Something as simple as a clogged cooling system? Any thoughts on this LUV 4×4 diesel pickup? Good buy or good-bye?


  1. Todd Fitch Staff

    A small pickup! Something that doesn’t exist today unless you buy used. I wonder how it would do with a basketball-sized turbo on there? Just kidding, of course. Perfect for the many people who use their small pickups for hauling trash and the occasional trip to the lumber yard. With 4WD you could go hunting or cut firewood in places today’s trucks couldn’t reach without chainsawing a giant tunnel through the forest. Nice one Scotty!

    Like 8
    • bobk

      Actually, the moment I saw this write up was to wonder if there were any turbo conversions available, either from the factory (via salvage yard?) or aftermarket.

      Like 3
      • bobk

        I wish the edit function was still available. Too often, I write a post and post it without re-reading it, only to regret the unedited post. What I should have said….

        “Actually, the moment I saw this write up I started wondering if there were any turbo conversions available, either from the factory (via salvage yard?) or aftermarket.”

        Like 2
  2. Jim

    Sure wish that they still made pickups this size. I owned two at different times, but it looks like I’ll never own another pickup truck unless someone starts making a small one again. The ones they’re making now are ridiculous

    Like 11
    • bone

      True ! A few weeks ago I parked my 3/4 ton 98 Dodge Ram in a Home Depot parking lot . When I left the store a brand new Chevy truck was parked next to my truck, which now looked about the size of this LUV compared to that massive truck !

      Like 5
    • Teh Agent

      Yup. I just got a 2020 Ranger and its about as big as the 90s F150s were.

  3. alphasud Member

    We had one at the shop I worked in Denver. The Isuzu engine is a real jewel. The truck maybe slow but the engines usually outlive the chassis.

    Like 8
  4. TIm M

    My company truck for a couple years was the Isuzu 2WD version of this. Don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere in this. I was always amazed at how much oil the crankcase held–it was close to 6-7 quarts IIRC.

  5. DeLong Magic Shop

    It’s now SOLD for $37,500. this write up did not mention the mileage, which was 87000. I had a LUV and I think this one probably has a lot of life left in it.

    • DeLong Magic Shop

      Sorry for the typo: $3,750, not $37,500.

  6. JoeNYWF64

    Wait for Ford
    Or move to Mexico or Brazil to get a small pickup, tho theirs i believe are unibody, front drive & low on power
    The choice of “colors” are disgraceful – scroll down – 3 different grays/silvers &
    no blues, much less all the other colors the Vega came in
    Even worse of a color choice here

  7. lc

    Sold. Nice looking Mikado with white wheels, but I think it is pricy for its current condition. Steering wheel looks just like the one in the 5th gen El Caminos.

    Like 1
  8. Eric

    I purchased a new 1982 Chevy Luv four-wheel-drive 2.2 diesel Isuzu engine. With the Mikado package. Bucket seats manual four speed. Blue exterior with blue interior. I even saved the original tires that’s still have 90% tread on them in fact the spare I carry is still the original tire. It’s right at 42,000 miles on the odometer. And I have no plans on ever selling as long as I’m alive. And I’m still alive. It’s been a great little pickup but I never get much better than 22 miles per gallon, I always felt it should be better. I have a set of studded snow tires for it, but now that smart people in Portland Oregon decided to use salt on some of the roads I do not drive it any more in the winter. It has no rust issues now and from the third month I had a matching Cab height canopy on it.

    Like 5
  9. Glenn Schwass Member

    These were neat. They rusted away hete in the Northeast but the engines wouldn’t die. How many went to the crusher that wete still running? I wish you could get one today, with a turbo? Oh well…nice to see.

  10. RexFox Member

    No rust or rust-through? What’s all that rust colored stuff in the bed, on the wheels, in the door jams, etc., along with bubbles on the door bottoms? I agree with the comments about the perfect size. You can still find small trucks in Mexico and Europe, but they have typically led a hard life; as intended. A 4 cylinder, 4×4, 5 or 6 speed pickup with a 6’ bed and room to throw stuff behind the seats (like an 80s King Cab), would meet the needs of many, myself included.

  11. nlpnt

    Gotta LUV that pool-blue interior! The only other interior color with the Mikado package in the late models was red; you could get a tan one in the base trim and on old-shape Mikados. But black interiors went away after only one year at the start of the run and never came back.

    Like 1
  12. AZVanMan

    Friend of mine had a 2wd diesel LUV with a couple hundred K miles, ran his A/C business out of it in Phoenix. Little workhorse.

  13. chrlsful

    man here built one in the Framingham, MA GM plant and drove it home I believe. Don’t think it was diesel or 5 speed. He was from the Rosebud Soux. Hada 100 mi commute (total) from Spencer. Rainy Blackmoon, I’ll all ways remember him and what his life was like. Good man, full missed~

  14. chrlsful

    Sioux – I feel / think like bobk:

    I wish the edit function was still available. Too often, I write a post and post it without re-reading it, only to regret the unedited post. What I should have said….AND I’m a “member” ($10 last mo/Oct).

    Like 1
  15. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    This LUV sold for $3,750.

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