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Isuzu Bellett
ISUZU bellett
Manufacturer Isuzu
Production 1963–1973
Predecessor Hillman Minx
Successor Isuzu Gemini
Class Compact
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
2-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door station wagon
2-door pickup truck
Engine(s) 1.3 L OHV I4
1.5 L OHV I4
1.6 L OHV I4
1.6 L SOHC I4
1.6 L DOHC I4
1.8 L SOHC I4
1.8 L diesel I4
2.0 L diesel I4
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2350 mm (92.5 in)
Length 4032 mm (158.7 in)
Width 1499 mm (59 in)
Height 1391 mm (54.8 in)
Curb weight 921 kg (2030 lb)

The Isuzu Bellett was a subcompact car manufactured by Isuzu Motors Ltd. in Japan from 1963 to 1973. It was an in-house designed replacement for the Hillman Minx, assembled previously by Isuzu under a license agreement. The name "Bellett" was supposedly to represent "a smaller Bellel".

(This section requires checking. Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti worked for Isuzu around this time and it is highly likely that he designed this car)

The car was available as a 4-door or 2-door sedan, a rare 2-door station wagon, called the Bellett Express, and an even rarer 2-door pickup truck known as the Isuzu Wasp. After General Motors acquired a stake in Isuzu, the Bellett was replaced by GM's "global" T-car, initially called Isuzu Bellett Gemini and later simply Isuzu Gemini, which technically had little to do with its predecessor. A total of 170,737 of original Belletts were manufactured.

SedanEdit

Launched in June 1963, the sedan began life with a 1.5 L OHV gasoline I4 engine and a 1.8 L diesel engine. In April 1964, they were joined by a 1.3 L OHC I4 engine. In 1966, the front fascia was facelifted, and in 1967, a 1.6 L SOHC engine was added. It was replaced by a 1.8 L SOHC engine after the 1971 face lift, which also marked the end of diesel-powered Belletts.

GT Edit

The Isuzu Bellett GT', launched in April 1964, was a 2-door coupe with a 40 mm (1.6 in) lower height than the sedan, fitted with a twin-carbureted 1.6 L OHV gasoline engine. It was the first Japanese car to be billed "GT" (Gran Turismo). September 1964 saw the arrival of a 1.5 L version of the GT, front disc brakes and some slight modifications to the front fascia. In September 1967, the base engine's power was increased, along with the addition of a fastback body style. Two years later, the 1.6 L engine was upgraded to a SOHC design, and in 1970 it was replaced by a 1.8 L SOHC engine.

GT-R Edit

The GT-R, more specifically GT Type-R (for "racing"), was a racing version of the GT, also available to individual customers. First presented in September 1969, the GT-R featured a 1.6 L DOHC engine from the 117 Coupe, power brakes and numerous other modifications. It was visually different from other Belletts primarily by a specific paint scheme, which included a completely black hood. The GT-R achieved many successes in racing, and has gained its own fan community. Only about 1,400 GT-Rs were manufactured.

Though the GT-R was one of the first cars to be called "GT-R", the Nissan Skyline GT-R was in fact earlier, with the PGC10 GT-R being released six months beforehand, in March 1969. The Holden Torana GTR was released in October 1969. However, there was a Bridgestone GTR motorbike which predates all of these. It is also worth noting that Isuzu used the Type-R designation long before Honda adopted it.

In 2006, readers of Japanese collector car magazine Nostalgic Hero ranked the Bellett GT-R 10th in a list of the 50 greatest Japanese cars. Results were published in issue 116 (August 2006) as well as a Nostalgic Hero Extra Edition (Geibun Mooks No. 555) published April 20, 2007.

MX1600 Edit

At the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show, Isuzu presented a concept car called Isuzu Bellett MX1600, designed by Tom Tjaarda. It was a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive 2-seater super sports car. Apart from sharing the 1.6 L engine with the GT-R, the MX1600 had little to do with any production Bellett, and it never materialized into a production vehicle, but it is said to have inspired the De Tomaso Pantera by the same stylist.

Video gamesEdit

The 1969 Bellett GT-R is a playable car in the Polyphony Digital video game Gran Turismo 4 for the PlayStation 2. In simulation mode, it is available as a used car only (even though it is at the Isuzu showroom, but not able to be bought there) and comes in three colors: white, gold and orange. It can also be played in the Polyphony Digital video game Gran Turismo 5 for the PlayStation 3. Now equipped with a horn and can only be purchased as a used Standard car.

ReferencesEdit

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