Published on May 11th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Isuzu Bellet, The Forgotten Sedan
Before the Piazza, Gemini and the JJ sedan, Isuzu Motors had a sedan that sold quite well in Europe. It was the first Isuzu to be exported to Europe. Launched in June 1963, the sedan began life with a 1.5 L OHV petrol in-line 4-cylinder engine and a 1.8L diesel engine. The 50PS diesel received very low gearing of 4.1:1 – optionally available to the 1.5 as well – resulting in a top speed of only 104km/h. At the very end of 1966, a sporting 1.6 litre SOHC engine was added for the 1600 GT. In 1971 the Bellett range underwent a second face lift, which also marked the end of diesel-powered Belletts.
The Bellett was the first Isuzu to be exported to Europe, when a thousand cars were shipped to Finland in January 1965. The Isuzu Bellett was also the first Japanese car to be regularly imported to Sweden. Exports to Canada also started in March of 1965 as well.
The name “Bellett” was supposedly to represent “a smaller Bellel”, a larger car built by the company. “Isuzu” itself means “fifty bells”, hence the choice of these names.
A total of 170,737 of original Belletts were manufactured. The Bellett 1600GT was well received on its release in April 1964 as the first car in Japan to be given the GT label (meaning gran turismo, or grand tourer), which refers to the genre of cars that are designed to be driven at high speeds for long distances. Subsequent versions included a fastback and GTR, and it came to be known by the nickname “Belle G”. 1600GTs remain in practical use while being looked after carefully by enthusiast clubs.
To date we have yet to see an Isuzu Bellet in Malaysia and I am sure many of you reading this have never heard or seen this rare Japanese sedan.