Thursday, July 23, 2009

1965 Isuzu Bellel Special

How about an incredibly slow, oddly styled, diesel engined car from one of Japan's least respected automobile manufacturers?

That would be the Isuzu Bellel.

The Bellel was the first Japanese diesel production car. It was also Isuzu's first independently designed car. Prior to this Isuzu had been producing Rootes cars under license. The suspension set up was copied from the Hillman Minx.

Looking at it straight on, the front end isn't bad looking. It almost has an 60s Italian sedan look to it. The Isuzu designers seemed to lose ambition when designing the side of the car, as it's slab sided and unimaginative (although the little turn signal on the c-pillar is an unusual touch). It's the back end where things get really weird. I don't know that there was ever another car produced that had such an odd collection of angles and shapes. (OK, some of the big, finned, American cars of the 1950s probably have this beat.)

The dashboard, which also has some weird angles and shapes, appears to be relatively well laid out. This particular car has air conditioning (which I assume is rare) and some vents tacked on to the the bottom of the dash. For many, many years, automobile A/C systems were separate from the heating system and required separate vents like this one has. On most cars the extra vents looked awkward. For some reason on this car, maybe because of the overall styling of the dash, they look pretty good.

The rest of the interior looks a lot like a 1950s American sedan with rounded cloth bench seats. The materiel used on the door panels looks like it came from the blankets movers use to cover furniture when loading and unloading it from the truck.

The engine is a 2.0 liter diesel. 60 miles per hour comes in a very leisurely 25+ seconds. The transmission is a 4 speed with the shifter being mounted on the column. Maybe it's the angle the picture was taken at, but the gas and brake pedals seem very close together on this car, while the clutch seems a mile away. The gas pedal appears to be shaped the same as the brake and clutch pedal. Another oddity.

This is another one of those "there's no really good reason to buy this car" type of car, except for its rarity. The body appears to be in remarkably good shape and everything that came with the car appears to still be with it. I suspect parts are pretty hard to find, but isn't finding parts half the fun of restoring an old, weird car?

Click here to see the eBay listing for this 1965 Isuzu Bellel.

1 comment:

Trevor said...

JACG - I posted on a later post that I bought this car and the pictures are on flickr. I thought the reason I bought it might interest you.

I have a good friend in the Bellingham area; I was following an auction for a pair of very worn 1940s Studebaker trucks that were 5 miles from his house. The plan being that we would split them and I would get one shipped to me when I could.

However, I lost that eBay auction and thought I should see what else is for sale in the area since I have a friend willing to hold onto a car until I could ship it. That lead me to the Bellel. The condition was much better than the Studebakers, however it was on an island.

How I got it off the island and to me was interesting and fun too...I didn't actually receive the car until Friday that Labor Day weekend.