You know how in lots of bad sci-fi, when there’s some kind of near-omnipotent evil computer running things and you have to stop it, your only hope is to ask it some kind of logical paradox and just wait around until it self-destructs? But what do you do if that evil computer is wearing a hat that claims it would rather push a Chevy than drive a Ford? Or vice-versa? In that case, the answer is simple. You just need to pull up in a Suzuki Carry and toss the evil computer the keys, because that little van is the only vehicle to be sold as both a Ford and a Chevy.
Yes, the Suzuki Carry kei van (and pickup truck), badged as both a Ford Pronto and a Chevrolet CMV, is the vehicle that remains the lone possible solution if you need to find something that both Ford and Chevy diehard-shovers can agree they’d be comfortable either driving or pushing, together.
I was reminded of this remarkable freak of badge engineering when I saw this tweet:
It’s real, and I believe the only time a car has been sold as both a Ford and a Chevy, the Pronto and CMV respectively pic.twitter.com/bm0qteOI2z
— Uri Halevi (@uhalevi) April 2, 2022
This reminded me of a story I vaguely remembered from years ago, and I soon found — a Hemmings post talking about, well, the exact same thing I’m talking about now. Sure, our pal Daniel covered this very well, but it’s worth bringing up again because if I forgot about it, I suspect there are still many of you out there who had no idea there was once a common Ford/Chevy vehicle, and that’s a bit of badge engineering madness you deserve to know.
The Suzuki Carry is quite a little success story of its own, one of those rare Kei vehicles that transcended the highly specific Japanese regulations that birthed it and went on to find success all over the world.
Early Suzuki Carry vehicles were as cute as a bulldog puppy and at least twice as useful. First arriving in 1961, they were updated a bit in 1965 (as seen above) and had then-Kei standard 360cc engines. By the time the fifth generation rolled out in 1985, these were being sold all over the world, and were being re-badged by companies like Ford’s Taiwan branch, Ford Li Ho, where they were called the Ford Pronto.
The Ford Pronto started as a pretty light re-badging, but later generations took an unusual and expedient approach to restyling, essentially slapping a plastic “mask” onto the face of the truck, as you can see on the pickup version above there. It’s like the van is wearing a Halloween Batman mask.
These Prontos had two-cylinder 600cc engines, and production stopped in 2007, mostly because tightened environmental regulations proved to stringent for the engine design.
Chevy’s versions of the Carry was called the CMV for the van, and CMP for the pickup, and were built from 1991 to 2013, allowing for plenty of overlap with their estranged Ford brothers. Chevy’s versions were built by their Korean Daewoo subsidiary in South America, which, along with Central America, is where these were sold, along with Tunisia.
These eventually had massive 800cc engines (that’s like 80% of a full liter, people) and, according to this one ad, even seems to have been voted Employee of the Year!
Way to go, CMs, V and P! There’s cake in the break room!
Man, one car that’s both a Chevy and a Ford! The mind reels! The only thing that even comes close to this was written about by our own David Tracy at that Jell-o Picnic enthusiast’s site, where he was discussing wartime Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) trucks, which were a basic type of truck built by, well, everyone Canada could get to make them, which included all of America’s Big Three, as you can see hinted at in this picture of a triple-branded CMP:
But, these weren’t actually sold to people, just militaries, so we can’t really count this.
No, the humble and charming Suzuki Carry is the only one that truly ever crossed that Great Divide between Ford and Chevy, and members of both camps should acknowledge this brave, shared son.
I feel like it’s unsurprising that this thing got sold as a Chevy given the Suzuki-GM-Daewoo connection. The Ford might be a little more unusual but given Lio Ho’s interesting history of rebadges it certainly seems right up their alley. Lio Ho has created an unusual market for itself because I have a friend whose dad is from Taiwan and as such he’s a Taiwanese Ford man, just as there are American Ford guys, British Ford guys, German Ford guys, and Aussie Ford guys. I wonder if there are any other branches of Ford that have inspired such loyalty.
The Hemmings article probably hints at the true source of the connection: Mazda licensed the Carry, which means like all Mazda things in the 90s, Ford received a version to sell to prop up their Asian operations.
There’s a Honda TN7 ute at a wreckers near me thats carrying a Leyland Mini in it’s bed, no front windscreen and someone’s cut the entire floor out of the cab, apart from that its still standing well on all 4 wheels and I really want to buy it to restore. But I can’t work out if its a good idea or just pay $10K for an imported 90’s one that needs no work.
Speaking of FC trucks, is Tracy’s FC Jeep project dead now due to the job change?
There is no such thing as dead when a Jeep is in David’s possession. If they manage to recover one that went down in spring of 43 from the bottom of the ocean he will bust out a welder and take that thing to Moab.
Darn it Torch! First I had a strong desire to get a Nissan Pao. You got one and I swooned. But now I see there is a ’65 Suzuki Carry van that would be even more practical and yet tiny & fun. Where o where can I find one of those?
Backfire: Looks like Chevy has been using their “real people” thing for waaaay too long.
I’ll never understand this thing about being a “Ford guy” or “Jeep guy” or “Chevy guy” etc. Why would one tie yourself to one brand, given the huge diversity of options out there? I can see it if you work for a car company and it’s awkward showing up for work in another brand, but otherwise, why show feality to some multinational corporation?
I’ve owned 15 vehicles in my life, representing 13 different manufacturers — 5 domestic (Buick, Pontiac, Chrysler, Olds, Ford), 4 asian (Toyota, Honda (2), Hyundai, Mazda), and 4 european (Audi (2), Volvo, VW, BMW). All of them gave me good service and decent value. Changing brands wasn’t about “that was a crap vehicle, I need something different,” but rather “what’s out there that best meets my transportation needs now, fits my budget, and is well reviewed.” I’ve found that my best vehicles were those that got kudos from both Consumer Reports (value focus) and Car and Driver (fun to drive focus).
I’ve never really partaken in the JDM craze, but I do have a thing for Kei trucks. My favorite being the Suzuki Carry, just because the name is so perfect. Now I kind of want the Chevy version though …
Very nice. I am also glad to see that my scan of a 1960s Carry brochure is being used (the full spread).
The Suzuki Carry used an the old Top Gear van challenge was basically my introduction to Kei vans. It’s funny how these got around. I don’t think that they ever made it officially to the United States but the similar Cushman White Van was pretty similar except that it was built in China. Thanks for bringing this badging enigma to my attention.
They’re pretty common on Catalina Island.
The Suzuki Carry van was sold in Australia as the Holden Scurry, one of the best car names ever.
In the UK it had an even better name, the Bedford “Rascal”.
Ironically, I think it was a link from one of Dan Strohl’s articles over at Hemmings, that led me to first stumble upon you weirdos over at Jell-o picinic in the first place. The circle is complete.
I just want to picture the scene where a young automotive designer, fresh out of university, head full of dreams, thinking of designing the next DB5, making a difference in the world, landing a job at Ford, and then……
“We need you to design the cheapest possible plastic mask to slap on the front of this Suzuki”.
And like that, permanent and irrevocable entry into the world of corporate drudgery.
Or perhaps it was given to the old guy that nobody likes, but he’s still here because he’s the only one that can fix the coffee machine when it gets the collywobbles.
My Ford truck is a coach-built ’64 F100 crewcab. I learned the hard way that when needing replacement parts to remove the object of replacement and take it in-hand to a good parts place and simply ask, “I want one of these”. There were various non-Ford parts on there when delivered to the original owner. The vacuum-assist brake system was from a Buick Electra, and relevant to this post, a Chevy carrier bearing for the split drive shaft. By adding a second cab to the first one, the cab interfered with the drive shaft, so they split it and used a Chevy carrier bearing to, well, carry the drive shaft.
There was also the 40ft Australian Army Work Boat built simultaneously by Ford Motor Co and Holden GM at opposite ends of Melbourne during WWII.
Thank you for covering Kei vehicles.
As far as vintage British stuff goes, the original Mini was sold in Austin, Morris, Riley (Elf), Wolseley (Hornet), Innocenti and probably other versions, along with Clubman & Moke variants…
as for brands, it was also sold as a “rover”, and a “”leyland””
Now I want to know what the most rebadged single vehicle is. I’m guessing it’s something commercial like the Isuzu Elf, but that’s just a guess.
The good folks at Wiki say you could get an Elf badged as: Isuzu, Chevrolet, GMC, Nissan, Mazda, Hino[Toyota], Bedford[Vauxhall] and HICOM.
I think for sheer number of nameplates it might be the first gen Suzuki Vitara, which was sold as:
Mazda Proceed Levante
(Hopefully, since Tycho de Feijter writes here, he’ll do an article on the wild scheme that resulted in those last two.)
The Chevrolet Chevette might give it a run for its money – Vauxhall Chevette, Opel Kadett, Holden Gemini, Isuzu I-Mark, Isuzu Bellett Gemini, Saehan Gemini, Saehan Bird, Saehan Maepsy, Saehan Max, Daewoo Max, Daewoo Maepsy, Daewoo Maepsy-na, Daewoo Maepsy Sigma, Aymesa Condor, Grumett 250M, Grumett Color, Sanremo Condor, Opel Isuzu, and Buick Opel.
And now we get to a tricky question: How different does something have to be to no longer be considered a rebadged? Because GM used the T-car, and the later J-body, freaking everywhere, but some of them had fairly substantial differences. Like the Daewoo/Saehan Max was a freaking truck!
Now there’s a topic that requires further exploration.
It was also the Holden Drover, if I recall correctly.
The Vitara, that is.
no, Drover was equiv to Suzuki Sierra SJ410/SJ413
I think the Drover was Samurai based?
“Guangtong GTQ5020XLZ” just rolls off the tongue, huh?
This seems perfect for some schadenfreude – like seeing two parked near each other, and exchanging the tailgates, so both are now labelled Ford on one end, and Chevrolet on the other.