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Prime Mover Magazine

Isuzu light-duty truck turns 60

Commercial vehicle manufacturers Isuzu Motors Limited (Japan) and Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) are jointly celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Isuzu Elf truck range, also known outside of Japan as the N Series.

The Elf was first introduced by Isuzu Motors in August 1959 and made available predominantly in Japan and neighbouring Asian countries.

The first generation, two-tonne, cab-over Elf sported a 1.5 litre petrol engine that produced 60hp (44kW).

As a sign of things to come, this original incarnation surprisingly came with multiple body types.

The original integrated bed is perhaps most recognisable, but the Elf was also made available with a separate tray including drop-sides.

There was an early dual-cab version too, as well as custom body options for dedicated applications including beverage delivery, rubbish collection and, believe it or not, a tanker variant. 

Extremely popular in its local and surrounding markets, the Elf first breached home turf in the late 1970s and it soon found a loyal following in Australia badged as Bedford by Isuzu.

The third generation Elf (N Series) was introduced to replace the ageing KA, KS, KT, TLD and TLG models. By 1978 Isuzu had sold its millionth Elf worldwide.

Back in Australia, the N Series was assembled in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s outer east, from 1984.

The range quickly became a local road transport staple and the core of the Isuzu offering here – celebrated for its adaptability, durability, fuel efficiency and of course, reliability. 

As the Elf platform spread rapidly throughout the global truck market, Australia received the all-new N Series with Isuzu’s unique Aero-cube cab design in 1994, with 12 models introduced.

This marked the first major change to the range in over a decade and the overarching cab design endured as the basis for many upgrades for years to follow.

According to IAL’s records which stretch back to 1972, total sales of N Series models equates to a staggering 111,300 vehicles, just over half of the brand’s total sales across all weight segments since that time. 

“There’s little doubting the impact this light-duty truck model range has had on the success of the Isuzu brand both here in Australia and all over the world,” said IAL Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Harbison.

“It’s remarkable to think the humble beginnings of the Elf in Japan could have led to such levels of market domination.”

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