Here's my 1976 Opel by Isuzu. I bought it out of Michigan in 2010 with around 76,000 miles on it. It was owned by an enthusiast there and was never driven on the salt; prior to that it was a Texas car. The Opel by Isuzu is a freakshow in itself; the first year it was marketed as the Opel by Isuzu, in theory a continuation of the semi-popular, German-sourced Opel models sold through Buick dealers. Despite sharing a profile with the Opel Kadett C, the Isuzu-sourced coupe didn't fool anyone, so for 1977 it was joined by a sedan and re-branded as the Buick/Opel by Isuzu. By 1979, it was simply the Buick Opel and then was consigned to history (until the facelifted car came back as the Isuzu I-Mark in 1981...I often wonder if anyone went to trade their Buick Opel on an Isuzu I-Mark and have no idea of the connection until they plonked themselves in the drivers seat to be faced by an almost-identical dashboard and steering wheel! Given the Buick Opel by Isuzu is, essentially, an Isuzu Gemini with LHD and huge bumpers and also given that Holden built their own, locally-adapted version at Acacia Ridge in Queensland which went on to become Australia's most popular small car for some years, you'd wonder why the hell I'd buy an obscure captive Japanese import from the USA and export it to Australia. I often tell people it's because it was $45,000 cheaper than a Chevrolet Camaro, but that's only half the truth. The real truth is in the bewildered wonderment that the average Aussie has when I cruise past in a LHD 'Holden Gemini' with huge bumpers. Because of this, it is best savoured either alone or with a child in the passenger seat, lest onlookers think that my 8yo son is driving. I also bought it because as an Isuzu enthusiast, I also wanted to participate in Adelaide's local American car cruises, enter it in All Japan Day, All American Day, All GM Day...hell I could probably even hit up All Holden Day! I tried to do All Euro Day, but was knocked back...because the same guy runs the Japanese show and thought I was taking the piss. Hey man, it says, "Opel" right there on the side! Fun fact; it took about five years to get it on the road here; I had other priorities with life, kids, etc. However, GM launched Opel for the first time in Australia to sell Astras and Insignias, had little success AND went defunct, pulling out completely around a year later.... all in the time I had my Opel off the road. It's a funny car; the handling is nowhere near on par with an Aussie Gemini and I dont' know why, although the chromed girders that pass as 5mph-compliant bumpers probably don't help. It's got a tonne of sound deadening; woodgrain dash, tacho and other instrumentation, auto and air conditioning, but misses out on Jesus bars (the bars above the windows) and even a trip meter. WTF is with that? When I bought the car, I hid it from my wife for several months. When she found out, she was super-angry, which upon reflection I can understand. But I told her, "Hey man, you can be angry with me, but don't be angry at the car. The car is cool!" She considered it for a moment and agreed, "Yeah, the car IS actually pretty cool." Once it got registered, she often drove it to work despite the fact she needed to swipe a card at a boom gate (from the wrong side of the car, remember), she rocked up to a Coffee and Cars in it, then ended up in Street Machine magazine, she got pulled over by the police for talking on her phone when our mate was the one actually driving it into a car show for me (wrong side of the car, again) and all round it presents as now holding a lot of memories of her which I love as she passed away in 2018. One final thing; it wears North Carolina numberplates because...I bought one from a souvenir shop in Las Vegas, choosing blue-on-white and a six-digit plate starting with S as it most closely reflected our own classic South Australian numberplates, which are available for re-issue. Once registered, I ordered the same plate number as on the South Carolina plate, successfully procured it and it's now registered with that number. I've not had any problems YET.... Pics include the time it blew a head gasket en route to an obstetrician's appointment while my wife was both pregnant AND had cancer, hence the finger, but also include the Buick Opel by Isuzu's crowning moment; Rust Belt American Junk (I know it's Japanese, but it's USDM) at the inaugural Concours d'Lemons Down Under, presented by the incomparable Alan Galbraith. I treasured the trophy dearly, put it on my lap when I got home, then got out of the car and smashed it to bits on the ground the same day. Yay.
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Here's my 1967 Isuzu Bellett 1500 sedan. It came free with an ultra rare 1966 PR90 Bellett GT shell and several crates of grotty, greasy parts. It sat in my front yard for a few months, destined to be broken down into parts; it has a big block 1600cc Chev LUV motor after all (NB: it's a bolt-in swap as the LUV is also an Isuzu product). However, a sudden need for a second car in the family saw me press it into service. It had sat in a guy's backyard for about a decade, heating up so much in the South Australian summer sun that a pen in the door pocket had melted into a banana-shape. Naturally, it would need a full going over, so I pumped up the tyres and drove it up the street. Aside from the fact a loose baffle kept blocking the exhaust and all four tyres de-beaded, it seemed ok. One new exhaust and four spare tyres later (I hesitate to say 'new'), and it became my daily driver. I drove it to work, as did my now late wife from time to time, her on-street parking position resulting it in appearing in early Google Streetview images of the area. I was certain the police would take one look at the paint and the rust and give me the old "Yeah, nah," (which in Australia means 'no') and issue it with a defect, but here we are some 13 years later....and it's still going strong. The paint brings more attention that a restored Mustang (that's not hard), with pin-up girls expertly etched into the flaking paint, appearing as if by religious miracle. The Japanese on the side says "Ginza Province Isuzu Wreckers" after whacking that through Google Translate, then messing with the result in MS WordArt. I had the text created in vinyl, stuck it on, peeled it off again and here's the result. Aside from the G161 OHV Florian/LUV motor, modifications include a set of rear Bellett springs in the front (an age-old trick to reduce the Bellett's towering-yet-standard front-end height) and a set of 14" Florian wheels wearing original hubbies, although it's worn a few different wheels over the years at the pictures will attest. It's the best driving car I've got; it just goes and goes, whips traffic, chops snoozy drivers at the lights and the swing-axle independent rear end means it handles like a sports car right up to the point that it doesn't. I smile every time I drive it, I love it like a child and will be sad when I finally get the old ''Yeah, nah."
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