Some of you know that I am a mini-truck enthusiast. I have lamented the passing of the compact pickup on the ‘Verse before. So, I’m always on the lookout for nice examples of older trucks. For me, the trucks from the ’70s and early ’80s are the cream of the crop. As I cruised around craigslist last week, I found this 1976 Chevrolet LUV Mikado, only 500 miles away, in Reno. Immediately, the words of our own Ray Lindenburg leapt to mind, “Never let an undeserving clod get between you and something you want.” So, off I set, to bring this sweetheart home . Upon closer inspection, the truck is almost as nice as hoped. The body is amazing for a LUV. (My family had one in 1986 or so, and it was already rusted through.) The interior is decent, and the tape stripes are totally boss. The truck is bone stock. The story goes that it was owned by an old lady. The seller was a nice guy, but not a mechanical guy, so when the engine went south, he parked it. Unlike almost every other vehicle in the world of craigslist, it did not run when parked.
Well there’s your problem, the timing’s off.
The LUV was a joint venture between Isuzu and Chevrolet. In order to compete with Toyota and Datsun, Chevrolet followed the Ford-Mazda Courier blueprint and slapped their badges on the Isuzu Faster, starting in 1972. The only engine offered was the 75 HP 1.8 liter with a 4 speed transmission. To offset that paltry horsepower rating, the rear axle gear ratio was 4.56:1 in manual trucks and 4.10:1 in the automatic version, which did not appear until 1976. Sadly, this truck has an auto trans. What ever happened to plaid interiors? So, the plan is to polish the hell out of the original paint, get some kind of working drivetrain in it, lower it a few inches, and drive! Fixing or replacing the Isuzu motor is an option. I’ve had a few votes for a V8 swap or a GM 4.3 swap, but I am thinking smaller, with good mileage. Maybe a 4AGE Toyota with a 5 speed? Scott Ith is an Associate Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site NeedThatCar.com. Head over there for more hooniganism.