production only started in 1953
, Isuzu can be traced back to a merger between a heavy engineering company and Tokyo Gas and Electric back in 1918. After the merger, the company built and sold Wolseleys in the Far East. In 1929 they began building their own cars, using various trade names including that of a famous Japanese river, Isuzu.
The company was formally titled Isuzu Motors in 1949, and in 1953
did a deal with British Rootes group to build Hillman Minx's, at first only assembling the cars from imported parts. Launched its own Bellel model in 1961
, and due to its popularity followed with the Bellet in 1963
. Most consider their crowning achievment the 117 Coupé, but despite the popularity of its cars Isuzu was struggling against the might of the big Japanese car makers.
They sought partnerships with Mitsubishi, Nissan and Fuji, before General Motors
came to the rescue, snapping up the manufacturer so that they could build small GM cars for both the local and export markets. The GM
influence would pay immediate dividends, with the release of the incredibly popular Gemini. The attractive small car was marketed as the Holden Gemini, Opel Kadett
and Vauxhall Chevette, all were popular and for good reason.
Also see: Isuzu Heritage