It’s Valentine’s Day! A day where we celebrate romantic love in whatever form it takes, between you and your partner(s), you and your cars, two insurance adjusters, or, yes, between a car website and the lovely, witty readers who come back, day after day. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the latter is the most powerful love of all, one that has inspired more embarrassing poems and acoustic-guitar songs than all other forms combined.
To celebrate this potent, humid love, let’s take a moment to consider the only car model I can think of named for this most potent of emotions: the Chevy Luv. Well, it’s named after some weird, saccharine variant of the emotion, like what wust is to lust. Anyway, it’s the best we have.
I suppose really the Chevy Luv was named for the acronym of Light Utility Vehicle, but that doesn’t change the fact that once, at one time long ago, Chevy was secure enough to sell a pickup truck with the name Luv, something that feels absolutely impossible today. It’s far more likely that Chevy would introduce a truck called the Stalker or Murderer than the Luv today, and I’ll leave what that means to hapless Cultural Anthropology PhD students desperately trying to think of a thesis to explore. You’re welcome.
The Luv was actually a captive import, based on the Isuzu Faster pickup truck, a handsome and rational little pickup truck with nice, practical proportions and all sorts of small Japanese ’70s pickup truck charm and details, like all those tie-down cleats under the lip of the bed, on the sides. I always loved those.
Mechanically, this was a very conventional, missionary-style sort of Luv, front engine, rear drive, leaf springs, nothing exotic: a big truck scaled down. Still, it filled a much-needed hole in Chevy’s truck lineup, especially during the Oil Crisis years.
Hey, let’s watch some Luv commercials!
There was even a four-wheel-drive Luv, and this commercial makes it look like a pretty good time:
Anyway, lots of love and Luv to everyone. We can’t do this without you, and you’re appreciated.
LUV is dead and nothing matters. Eat Arby’s.
A neighbor of mine up the street had two Luv,s in constantly varying states of repair/disrepair in his yard until recently.
One disappeared a few years ago. It was sad to watch the lone remaining Luv slowly disappear into the blackberry bushes. It seemed it just couldn’t go on once its Luv was gone.Then one day it too was gone.
To this day I can’t drive past that house without Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack getting stuck in my head.
“Where is the Luv? (Where is the Luv?)
The best truck I ever owned was a LUV. It was a Mikado, too, making for the unlikeliest pickup truck moniker of all time. A practical, well built little beast.
I bought a 79 4×4 Luv new. Great little truck. Drove it for years until my daughter (born in 1980) grew too big to fit in the middle seat without me elbowing her shifting into 4th gear. Traded it in on a used full sized Chevy 4×4 with 96k on the clock for $2700. Drove that one for another 125k+ with minimal expenses other than tires and oil. Sold it still running for $1100.
Where is the LUV for the diesel variant that could get over 40 mpg?
You just know that this is going to be the number one search result for “bedside tie down cleats” combined with a slew of various luv based double entendres. Followed by numerous results that are about something else entirely.
Those tie-down cleats are great. When I was a kid we had a Ford Courier (rebadged Mazda) that was nearly identical to the Luv, and actually used the cleats – very handy.
Dad put a folding canvas topper on the back of it. You could disconnect the sides and fold them up on to the top (not sure how they stayed there) and pretend it was a little safari truck.
The guy who painted my first car when I was in high school had a Courier in his yard. I thought it was a great little truck, but it was also the single rustiest thing in his junkyard – the rear edge of the driver’s side fender at the doorframe was so deteriorated, I could see the inner wheel well from outside.
The truck was a 1980 model, and this was only in 1988.
I luv this article & this site! I have always luved Chevy Luv’s (The name is awesome) Also luv the commercials (Especially the piano in the 2nd one) It’s great that small trucks are making a comeback (Even though they won’t be as small unless you go Kei) Everyone have a “luv”ely day!
Is it just me or does that picture remind anyone else of a cat in a litter box?
A guy in my neighborhood bought a 1979 LUV $x$ brand new in 1979, in Bright Red. That was one tough monster. It now sits in his yard, rusting away, and he refuses to sell it.
A rancher in the area bought a White model brand new in 1973 for his farm. He was hauling almost everything possible: hay bales, full-size tractor tires, you name it. He even pulled cattle trailers and big farm tractors that wouldn’t run. The truck finally wore down and called it quits around 1985.
PS: You missed the commercial with the LUV pulling a loaded Auto Train of LUVs and a caboose. I remember this commercial from 1976. That recent Ford F150 train-pulling commercial shamelessly aped that commercial, and Ford knows it. They just won’t admit it.
“It’s far more likely that Chevy would introduce a truck called the Stalker or Murderer than the Luv today.”
Not a truck or a Chevy but in the early 00s there was the Mercury Marauder. And around the same time there was a body kit for the Mustang that made it look like a Cobra but it had “Stalker” instead of “Cobra” imprinted on the rear bumper, good grief. I might have some pictures I took of a Mustang so modified on a memory card somewhere; I’m not gonna do an online image search for Stalker body kits to find pictures, though, thank you.
The Marauder name dates back decades. The first one ran on leaded fuel.
I’m feeling a little LUV sick, today.
Ah, yes, those LUVs were surprisingly ubiquitous back in the day in my part of the Southeast, due to the popularity of small light trucks, as already noted, and also due to the fact that some people wanted to buy American (doubtful that *everyone* understood that the LUV was actually a so-called captive import.) This was in an era where community events such as fairs and high school football game festivities would provide a hapless foreign (usually and specifically Japanese) car or even motorcycle for people to bash with a sledgehammer for a dollar or so per swing.
I would but the hell out of a little truck like this.
So you would “BUTTON the hell out of a little truck like this”?
I’m not sure that’s any better – or even what it means – but you do you, Happy.
HOW CAN YOU WRITE A NOTE ON THE LUV ON FEBRUARY 14TH WITHOUT HIGHLIGHTING THE HEART SHAPED CUTOUT WHEELS.
Seriously. This is what I was counting on today and you failed me.
When I bought my J10 it had wagon style wheels with HEART shaped cutouts. This mystified me. Turns out it was a bicentennial edition LUV in 1976 that had heart wheels. I don’t recall the specifics, but this is when I found out the LUV in the 70’s had 6 bolts.
If you own one of these, you must buy the biggest set of truck balls you can find for it. Preferably large enough that they scrape the ground and bounce all over the place when you go over a speed bump.
My other truck is a Deuce-and-a-Half
The LUV is one of the few Chevys I would actually like to own.. probably because I LUV that it’s not actually a Chevy.
Love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and we definitely have the Plymouth Fury available.
Don’t worry guys, I don’t love you any less the other 364 days of the year.
I thought I loved the Bedford KB Isuzu pickup we got over here, but the Chevy Luv Isuzu is pretty sweet too 🙂
Did they actually make these? I’m OLD, but I can’t recall ever seeing one.
I saw these quite a bit in the 80s. I was in relatively rust-free Washington state, though. I suspect rust got rid of these quickly elsewhere.
I seem to remember seeing rusty examples in Arizona in the 90s, so you’re probably right on the money there.
My dad bought one new, he swore it must have already been rusting while sitting fresh on the dealer lot – GM repainted the tailgate after 6 months, then replaced it entirely a few months after that, but, by then, the rust was getting into the wheel wells and floor pans. He only kept it about 3 years and traded it on a used Monte Carlo. And this was with a different, company-provided car as a daily commuter.
I’m assuming stuff like that is why it seems the LUV has gone
Owned one in college – floor pans were almost gone when the rig was less than 10 years old – this in a state that did not use winter salt at the time.
Proper rust protection was seemingly against GM’s religion for much of the 70s and 80s. Despite its well-earned reputation as a piece of crap, I always thought the Vega was a handsome little car, and I’d love to restomod one, but find me one with enough metal left to even hold up a motor mount.
You just thought they were Datsun pickups..
I’ve seen one exactly once–when I was a kid (1990, plus or minus a few years). It was strange enough to me that I had to ask my dad what it was. I chalked its name up to the ’70s being weird, man.
Yep! I had a baseball coach who owned one in the 1980s. It was yellow. He really liked it, it held up for years, and when it was eventually time for a new truck, he was heartbroken they were no longer made.
Bonus: I actually saw him use the bedside tie-down cleats on numerous occasions.
They sold them as Chevrolet LUV abroad, too. I saw a very beat up one in Greece 25 years ago (picture is in Wikipedia; can’t post it here yet). The nameplate lasted much longer in Latin America where it continued in use on the succeeding Isuzu Pickup generations. Speaking of cutesy names, Isuzu sold their own version as the P’up for a while while Mistubishi had their Mighty Max.
Is it true the prototype was called a Light Utility Service Truck?
My grandfather had a brown one of these years ago. It’s what I learned to drive a manual on, and while it was easily the hardest to depress clutch pedal I’ve ever used, it made every other manual a breeze to drive. I love these things, and would love to have one now. It’s a great, practical size, got as good a mileage as you could expect from a truck (probably better actually), and was just a joy to drive. There’s a few around me for sale, but for the most part their either nearly parts trucks or too expensive to get into. Finding one that was in decent shape in the 5-7 grand range would be fantastic. I would love to drive one of these again, especially here in Texas where it would look hilarious around all of the jacked up, truck nutted f150s I see every day
Luv you too JT, and the rest of the gang!
Today of all days, many of us are grateful that Luv is based on Faster, and not Longer or Deeper.
I mean, if that’s what you need to tell yourself…