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Chevy LUV

Luv1 If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time--in which case, my most profound apologies--you'd think the Chevy LUV would be a natural for Car Lust. Consider the following:

  • Notwithstanding its Isuzu origins, it's a 1970s Chevrolet, and I'm on the record as loving Chevrolets from that decade (Examples 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and more no doubt to follow)
  • I like my trucks unpretentious; trucks don't come any less pretentious than the LUV
  • I liked Nathan's Ford Courier, which was essentially the Ford flavor of the same minitruck formula
  • Most telling, I have a fatal weakness for helpless little bedraggled cars; and the LUV is nothing if not helpless and bedraggled.

The LUV is the exception to all of those rules. I should like the LUV, and I'm powerless to tell you why I don't. My only guess--and admittedly I'm being incredibly inconsistent here--is that the LUV wasn't good. For one thing, compact pickups of the time only barely qualified as transportation. The early 1970s compact pickups lasted forever but were hampered by their incredibly tiny size and complete lack of grunt. Most of them made do with much, much less than 100 horsepower--the LUV only got up to 80 horsepower late in its production run--and four-wheel-drive was not as typical then as it is for today's compact pickups.

Luv2 Tiny, criminally uncomfortable, and weak, these pickups at least had the distinction of durability thanks to their ability to survive virtually any abuse or depredation. The Toyota Hi-Lux pickup built a reputation (and Top Gear's respect) with its ability to endure. Given that it was simply a rebadged Isuzu--Ur-P'ups, if you will--you would think the LUV would share the bulletproof reputation of its Japanese-badged sibling. And mechanically, I think the LUV was probably fine. What wasn't so fine was its protection from corrosion--wait, what protection? Rust viewed the LUV's body panels with the same all-consuming, slobbery hunger with which Wile E. Coyote lusts after the Road Runner. Making matters worse, seemingly nobody valued their LUV enough to keep it in anything close to pristine condition.

Luv3 Nowadays, when you see LUVs on the road, assuming they can limp to the road, they are always filthy, missing body parts, and in a thorough and advanced state of disintegration. Since I have only ever seen LUVs in a completely decimated condition, I can only assume that this is a state most LUVs reached within moments of leaving the dealer lot. In my brain, LUVs have been linked inextricably with rot, decay, and malign neglect.

There may be another reason I hold the LUV up to such derision. You see, I had a friend of a friend in college who went by the appellation "Hoag." Hoag was the stereotypical hard-partyer who either had at least two illicit substances floating through his bloodstream at any one time, or had done so for a long enough period of time that he was out of his head even when stone sober. At any rate, he was often belligerent, muddled, hapless, and completely incomprehensible. He, of course, drove a thoroughly shabby LUV, filthy, falling apart, and with a dirty rag substituting as a gas cap. Given his seeming state of near-constant inebriation, I'm actually surprised the LUV wasn't in worse shape.

Luv4 On one particularly memorable day, Hoag managed to back the LUV into his next-door-neighbor's house. He emerged groggily to survey the damage--happily, none to the house--and then slowly lurched away. I can still envision Hoag and his LUV, with him bleary-eyed and grinning vacantly in one of the worst trucks ever made. What makes me the happiest is how perfectly those two deserved each other.

Despite all of this baggage, I could probably come to actually ... um ... love, the LUV. It's a cute little thing; if exposed to LUVs that have been cherished instead of trashed I'm sure I'd find it pretty compelling.

I was actually stunned to find pictures of LUVs as nice as these; perhaps my conversion is already beginning. All are from Flickr; the top is from Katie and Joe, the second is from Ray of Unshine (which, incidentally, is a great user name), the third is from Jeba-ebediah, and the fourth is from christine*rn. I've included two videos here--one is a vintage advertisement, the other a pretty amateurish but very on-point parody of a Luv being given away on The Price is Right. I would totally drive the LUV with "34 MPG HWY" painted boldly on the side door.

A few comments from my Car Lust co-bloggers:

David Drucker: Do you suppose that a single, solitary Chevy LUV has survived to this point?

Big Chris: A guy up the street from my parents in Sioux Falls, SD, still drives a Chevy LUV. He's a mailman, and has been driving it since at least the mid-1980's (I used to date his daughter, so I remember it well). I think his was the 4-wheel drive version.  There was a diesel version starting in 1981 (2WD) that got over 40MPG on the highway, and the motors (C223) ran half a million miles before needing to be touched! The downside is if two men my size want to ride in the truck, one is ending up on the hood or the in the bed! One guy dropped a 454 and a Ford 9-inch out back into his LUV, making it a go-cart/rocket from hell!

--Chris H.

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Hello,
I have a four wheel drive that I can't find the front hub system for it to be able to drive the truck can you help me to find what I need please contact me. The year of my truck is a 1980.
Priscilla Cook
414 E. Loop 281 #14
Longview,TX 75605
903-238-8565

I need a complete turbo system to fit a Isuzu pup / Chevy. Luv with a 2.2 diesel 1982-1985. I need the turbo, intake & exhaust manifolds, turbo down pip to exhaust system, air intake with filter housing, and all necessary parts to change over a natural aspirate to turbo. Thanks Tim 541-382-8885 or peacocktruckandautomsn.com

I have a 72 luv, with no engine or tranny, 34000 miles in original condition. Today after sitting in the gagage since 84 , I found a 1980 buick 6 cyl 231 with tranny. Can anyone tell me about install for this engine.

hey i am looking for a dash for my 1978 chevy luv. the one i have is compleatly weather cracked and falling apart at the seams... literaly. if anyone has any info on where i could find a dash kit it would be wonderful. my email is loversdeath666@gmail.com thanks again.

I agree that indeed the LUV is not the fastest or the sturdiest truck on the market and anymore if you find one it's in pretty sorry condition, but mechanically they'll run and drive well beyond the safe lifespan limit of the frame and cab. Incidentally, the 4x4 was the first of it's kind and Truck of the Year in 1979. I've read statistics that support Chevrolet sold more '79 4x4 LUV's than Chevy, Ford or Dodge combined sold any pickups in '79. With so many out there it's hard to believe there are so few left and there are kids today that haven't ever heard of it. I had a '79 4x4 and I can see why it was so well received. The little thing could go anywhere an would probably climb a tree if you got close enough.

I just bought a 79 luv and am haveing a hard time finding a replacement hood anyone know were i can find one

the LUV is actually becoming something of a collector vehicle these days. im currently driving a 1980 chevy LUV Mikado 4x4 and yes other than the lack of horsepower and pathetic top speed thanks the 4 speed tranny the thing is bulletproof. not a single spot of rust on it other than a bit of surface rust that was there when i bought it that i scrubbed right off (and being in washington thats saying something)
suprisingly alot of isuzu parts are interchangable with the LUV.(im running a 1985 isuzu P'up 5 speed as well as several under the hood modifications) checkout luvtruck.com there are some prime examples and a great forum to learn pretty much anything you could wanna know and a classifieds section to buy your own!
sorry just had to get my $.02 in on the topic since the LUV is actually a damn good vehicle. there is a senior member on the luvtruck.com forum whose truck has over 400,000 miles on it so obviously isuzu did something right in their design

just picked up a 72 worped head. I started out with a 72 back in the 80s I took it apart every part got a new head put it all back together slaped a webber carb on it and took off like a bat out of hell. the 72 has an ISUZU single overhead cam.I did find out the art of tunning, not much sounds better once everything's brought into line. Ya LUV is what you make it
IN YOUR TRUCK
LUV Doug

I have a 82 4x4 chevy luv runs but got rod knocking boby in fair shape 4 whell drive works great . I would be intrested in selling it if some one wonts it

I am from Australia NSW & have just bought for cheap a 1972 Chevy Luv. It is 95% rust free, has a 2ltr in it atm, with 5spd 92 rodeo box & apapted shaft with new heavy duty clutch. It is in flat black for now, And I am taking the dash back to original metal. I LUV it so much, It is the best car I have owned to me, and I have owned lotz of makes & models. I have BIG dreamz for this little ute. Watch this space and mssge me if u feel like we could chat about Luvs'!!! I am aspiring for a 350 fully worked engine to replace the 2 litre by 11mnths time.... Clayto

I had a 1976 Chevy LUV when I was a teenager. I never appreciated it as much as I do nowadays. I miss my LUV more than the other 10 cars I've owned since, and I've had a few real good ones. Way under powered, but when you're 17 and don't have a pot to piss in the 30+ mpg's were great. I hope to find another LUV for a project someday. In my opinion the LUV was the best looking compact truck the 70's could have ever brought us. Especially the 72-77 models with the dual headlights.

Go to LuvTruck.com and you will see the love people have for the Luv.
They were great little trucks and could carry three adults in the cab. They were crowded, but two big guys can travel easily in a Luv.
With the torsion bar suspension and five crossmember frame, they became race and street trucks which were converted to Chevy 350/350's and many are still in use today. Many have been upgraded and are still popular today. Just look around a little.

I have a 75 Luv, it has a 350 and a muncie 4 speed, this is by far the funnest, biggest attention grabber I have ever owned, no rust issues here in California. That 4th pic is an old Datsan.

I had a Chevy luv, my favorite of all time vehicles. drove for a year with half the gears broke out of rear end. I would take the doors off drive around town or the woods. get stuck me and friend pick up back end and move where i could get traction. would go up hills some friend couldn't with 4x4. enough speed will get you up almost any hill. loved that luv.
would like to find another.

I have a 1980 chevy luv 4 wheel drive with 109,000 miles runs great body in good condition. new radiator, alternator,new tires, new fuel pump and battery. asking 3,000. willing to trade for motorhome.contact me 19283411201 yuma az.

Hi, Can anyone advise me how to change the odometer settings on a 2008 CHEVROLET LUV3 3.0TD DOUBLE CAB 4X4 PICKUP 4-Door from kilometers to miles?
Thanks.
Chris

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