Turbo Diesel Spacecab 4×4: 1986 Isuzu P’up

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

The checklist on this truck is a mile long: 4×4? Check. Spacecab? Check. Turbo? Check. Diesel? Check. No rust? Check. This 1986 Isuzu Turbo Diesel 4×4 P’up is listed on eBay in Graham, North Carolina with a current bid of just under $2,000, but the reserve isn’t met.

The seller says that there is no rust on this P’up and it does look rock solid, but the LF fender has been painted. Maybe that could be matched more better, as they say. Or not, just maintain it and use it, it is a truck after all.

The second-generation Isuzu “Faster” (that’s the name, really) pickup, or for North America, “P’up” (short for pickup; no, really), had an optional Spacecab, which today doesn’t seem like a big deal because almost every pickup has a similar setup, or they have even more space behind the front seats, enough to have four doors! Remember when seeing a pickup with four doors meant that a bunch of utility workers would clamber out of it? Not today, it seems like it’s more unusual to see a two-door pickup without a space behind the seats today.

The interior needs a bit of freshening up, at least on the driver’s side. Hopefully that’ll be the fun part of fixing this one up. The passenger side looks quite a bit better. The “tachometer isn’t working & speedometer works at times & is off at others”, and there are “2 small cracks in the dash & a few small rock chips on the windshield.”

This is Isuzu’s 2.2L inline-four turbo diesel with around 80 hp and supposedly “everything works & runs great!” This could be a great, hopefully inexpensive, truck for someone who is just jumping into the “old” vehicle hobby. Hey, 31 years old is older than a good portion of the Barn Finds readers! Have any of you owned an Isuzu diesel vehicle?

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  1. mark

    In my area this truck would sell for 3500-4000 bucks quickly if it is in as good of shape as it appears to be.

  2. RoughDiamond

    First one of these I’ve seen. Maybe it’s my fifty plus year-old eyes, but the SpaceCab (camper top?) seems to be sitting to far back from the cab. What is all of that bracketry under the hood to the left of the battery?

    • Mike M,

      That bracket looks like it’s holding the jack and lug wrench.

    • whippeteer

      Spacecab was the name for the extended cab model. Nothing to do with the cap.

    • whippeteer

      The cap is aftermarket. So it’s not designed for this truck, just for the bed size.

    • Snowman

      RD, that “bracketry under the hood” L of battery is the: crank to lower the spare tire & work the jack, scissor jack, lug wrench. Very common on some trucks of that era.

  3. Jay M

    I know someone that’s had one since new.
    It’s rusty and slow, but bulletproof and reliable.
    He will never sell it unfortunately.

  4. Dave Wright

    From the photos, the proportion looks really bad. If you were not careful how it was loaded, the front wheels would be off the ground. I have been around several Isuzu diesels in boats. They seem to be a solid well built engine although I never do oriental machinery if I can avoid it. There marketing plans never support parts and long term ownership. They would rather that you bought a new one than fix an old one.

    • Mike H

      Political correctness would substitute the word “Asian” for “oriental”.

      Just saying. . .

  5. geomechs

    Worked on lots of the Diesel engines in these back in the day. Good reliable motor. Like the majority of light diesels from Japan this one will be equipped with a VE injection pump similar to that on a pre ’94 Dodge Cummins. Throttle shaft and bushing tend to wear quickly but this one won’t tear up the insides like the Dodge unit.

  6. Jason

    Sweet looking truck. Although I regret that I’ve never owned or driven an Isuzu Diesel truck, I remember seeing these a lot and so wishing that more light pickup trucks could be had with diesel engines.

  7. boxdin

    They could have called it the “Pup”, but with the apostrophie is reads like;

    pee up. I always thought that was strange.

    • Gay Car Nut

      I remember the P’up. I thought it was a strange name. I liked its appearance. I found it more attractive than the Toyota Pickup of the same vintage. But I thought Isuzu could’ve (should’ve) chosen a better name for the truck. One thing I did like was its 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine.

      • RS

        And Toyata trucks have TRD on the sides near the back. Who wants to drive a truck that almost says TURD on it?

  8. John H

    Looks like the tailgate is kind of beat up. It apparently comes with a pair of heavy duty work gloves … is that a good or bad sign? 😉

    I never had a chance to drive an Isuzu diesel. I saw quite a few locally but can’t recall seeing any show up on the used car lots.

  9. John

    Yup, had one in 83, tan, reg. cab, had AC. Was a great truck, our landscape supervisor drove it….hard. Would service it regularly. Changing the oil was a breeze, except the filter on the pass. side of the engine, always spill the oil as it was a large size filter and think it was on it’s side, tight space. Sorry I sold it.
    Didn’t see the miloage onthis one also looks like damage to the pass. sidede of the hood

  10. Gay Car Nut

    I regret that I’ve never driven a diesel car or truck. I was too young to drive by the time this was released. I consider it damned unforgivable that small displacement diesel engines never caught on as options for light trucks and cars. The only vehicles that offered the most diesel engines in the USA were Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen.

  11. Snowman

    Remember that before they offered the “faster” Turbo model, the Isuzu diesel was a naturally aspirated smoker. Tough as an Anvil with 20 head bolts on a 4-cylinder. Back when this Turbo model was made, a local Parts store in Hendersonville, TN owned 3 of them. They delivered parts all over town in those trucks. Being a long-time diesel driver I spoke to the store owner several times. Their company policy was to start them early and leave them idling, with the cab locked, anytime they were not delivering parts. Summer or Winter in between runs you could find them idling (with the A/C or Heat ON) and the doors locked, ready for service. The owner claimed minimal fuel burned at idle, and greatly reduced engine wear. They were sure to turn em off at the end of the day when it was time to turn out the lights and go home.

  12. RS

    Diesel engines stink to drive behind. Diesel fuel is nasty as are diesel fuel pumps at filling stations and the whole underhood of these vehicles, covered as they become with oily diesel fuel film that then traps dirt.. They make no heat at idle in cold weather and are unhappy winter vehicles. If you really NEED a diesel then get one but having owned a couple of them in the past I will never buy another one. P-U.

  13. boxdin

    I agree, diesels stick bad and some towns are so full of diesel fords & dodges the whole town sticks.

  14. Tim W

    Owned a Chevy Luv, basically the same truck but didn’t have the space cab.
    Outstanding mileage from the Isuzu diesel, not much acceleration but with the 5s peed once you were up & running it wasn’t too bad. Body & frame rusted even though it was Ziebarted when new. shortly after I sold it to my brother-in law the frame rusted through just behind the cab but that engine still ran great.


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