Isuzu turns 40
The year 1978 was an interesting one for South Africa. The "Groot Krokodil" took over from John Vorster as prime minister of South Africa, Margaret Gardiner was crowned Miss Universe, and the first Isuzu bakkie rolled off the Kempston Road plant in Port Elizabeth. The 1.6 ℓ petrol version cost R3 485 back then, and the 2.0 ℓ diesel an eye-watering R4 295. “Over the years, Isuzu vehicle assembly experienced many changes. We started production at the Kempston Road plant, where we produced five generations, and then moved to the more modern Struandale plant,” says Johan Vermeulen, Isuzu’s manufacturing and supply chain executive. Isuzu bakkies were innovative from the start. They offered the first rack and pinion steering and independent front suspension in a bakkie, and built the first double cab in the country. Over 600 000 Isuzu bakkies have been built in South Africa, and some of the very first ones are still being used today. Happy birthday, Isuzu!