With Isuzu only having such a small stake in passenger vehicles, they’re an often forgotten area of car ownership and people don’t realise just how long they’d been in the game. They could never compete with the likes of Toyota in Japan, after-all, who could? They’re really on their own as far as production figures go. The Isuzu passenger cars that are available are often looked upon with affection, a small and rounded affair, the 117 receiving the pen work of an Italian, as many Japanese cars did of the era. The Bellett however, was not party to this, though that’s not to say it didn’t go without any means to impress. As most will know the Bellett received a GT-R version the PR91W 1600-GT-R, it was a DOHC affair that did Isuzu proud on track and road alike. However the focus of this article is the more humble street sedan.
This car belongs to Alistair Weaver it was bought off trademe (NZ’s largest auction website.) Sight un-seen. The description was lacking at best.
It needed a bit of work but as you’ll be able to see, in the end it turned out to be well worth the gamble.
Once Alistair had got the Bellett back to where it would reside, he straight away began digging into it to see the extent of the job ahead of him. Thankfully the registration for the vehicle was on hold (as the magically accurate description had indicated) and as such there was less concern with condition of the vehicle than there would be had it been de-registered, yet, as it panned out either option would not have been that much of a drama, as you can see;
With the interior having already been re-upholstered at some stage in the car’s life and with a genuine wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel gracing the dash, it soon became evident that even if the body underneath was a fetid pile of rotten Swiss Cheese, the interior could easily recover the majority of the cost of the vehicle if not more so.
After a bit of a wash it was noted just how tidy the car really was. I mean, sure… there was rust but in a 38 year old car, you would struggle to NOT find rust. Overall, the car was pretty good if not great. Certainly a lot better than most.
So with a good idea of what was needed, some sill work and general body tidying as well as a respray. The job of pulling things apart became the next item on the agenda, in typical Mr. Weaver style, this was done very promptly.
Wait, what’s that brown… rust like stuff on the left side of the bay? oh wait… It’s RUST and it’s eating away at the chassis!
Thankfully, this was the only real surprise during the strip down period and as the engine was out, it could be easily remedied. So the shell was moved onto Alistair’s body guy where the repair work was undertaken;
As you can see, the right guard is slightly worse than the left and it explains the yellowing of the paint, apparently someone previous attempt to repair was likely just a matter of bodge and touch-up paint likely taken from the wood-stain paint can.
No pictures of the steel welded into the engine bay just one post tidy up with filler;
With the patches required having been attended to, the next step was to begin the rest of the tidying up process in preparation for a respray in BMW Alpine white, an ideal colour for the Bellett, given it was factory in a slightly off white, the BMW Alpine White would give the car a fresh edge.
Having only found a few more discrepancies during this process, they were dealt to in a fast and efficient manner before the task of spot priming, sanding back and full priming was undertaken.
With the priming taken care of, the top coat was next, the shuts and bay were done first with the body joining them the next day;
Once the paint was allowed time to dry and harden, the car was moved back to be re-assembled again a process that was met with gusto;
Of course, during the painting process, Alistair had been on the look-out for a few parts that he would need to complete the car. An undertaking that anyone with a classic Japanese car, knows can be a painful and time consuming one. Fortunately he was able to buy a few things from contacts made through the joyous wonder that is the internet. Other things he was having trouble locating. In particular, badges. Not many people want to part with their badges even if they are spares of their own. So instead of persuing and endless trail, Alistair took it upon himself to find someone who could make some badges using the the ones he did have as templates. Eventually he found a chap who casts badges and so he sent what he did have off to be replicated. After several weeks he was greeted with photos of how they looked most casting and still to be tidied;
Now of course was also the time to recondition components that would have to return to what now looked like a brand new car, you could hardly just slap on a tired looking grille or piece of trim so that was dealt with too.
With the bay having been painted and everything else making it’s way back into it’s rightful place on the vehicle, it was not long before the engine was soon slotted into place, you can see how much better it looks surrounded in the white as opposed to the typical Aussie seventies blackened engine bay style.
It was at this point, where a few key parts seemed to be unobtainable, yet by a weird stroke of luck, trademe came to Alistair’s rescue. A chap placed a listing stating he had a stack of Bellett parts and with haste Alistair contacted him and went there the next day to see just what was available. He came home with a treasure trove of wonder, the likes you’d not see at many (if any) autojumble or swap meet. Not for a manufacturer such as Isuzu in any case.
Probably not a requirement to show all that was collected but the majority of it is shown and it gives you a good idea of just what can be had if you can find the right person. Even the collection of spares I got for my 1963 Prince Skyline pales in comparison to what Alistair managed to get. Even though he only needed a few select bits and pieces, it would be silly for him to not take what he could fit in his E30 BMW. The other impressive thing that was added to his Isuzu collection was some literature, which is usually harder to come across than the car parts themselves;
With this collection of magical and wonderous parts now in his possession, Alistair seperated the few most important bits and got onto tidying them up to attach them to his almost complete 1970 Isuzu Bellett.
That just left throwing together what had been accumulated and the final product to sit and be photographed in all it’s majesty, so without further delay, here it is… Alistair Weaver’s ridiculously promptly completed 1970 Isuzu Bellett.
…and just incase you’re not familiar with the Bellett and the scale of the car. This photo should put things entirely into perspective for you;
If you want to read the entire process and see these photos in a larger resolution, I suggest you follow his project on the Bellett forums, here;
A slightly higher resolution photo of the evening completed Bellett shot, can be downloaded here;
Right Click -> Save Target/Link As…
Bellett – Night Shot in 800×600