Don't confuse the mismanagement of the UK distribution subcontractor and ill advised tinkering with the product by the Australian distribution subcontractor, with the success or failure of the car manufacturer in making a good product or making money off the product.
No one's doubting it's a "great car" certainly a bold effort and one I have a great deal of affection towards. I suppose it was a 'success' in that you and I still, for one reason or another, want one. Nonetheless....
"After commercial success building lorries and four-wheel drive vehicles. Japanese firm Isuzu decided to try its hand at a sports car. But with no experience in this area of the market, it turned to smaller companies for assistance. The first to be called was Italdesign, which offered Isuzu the use of the 'Ace Of Spades' concept car seen at the 181 Geneva Motor Show. The concept was developed into a production reality, but to cut costs it used a General Motors platform plucked from the Vauxhall Chevette - a car not renowned for its sporting agility.
The car's handling was atrocious and, to make matters worse, the build quality was also dire. Isuzu turned to Lotus for help in developing the Piazza's handling, but by then it was too late and the damage had been done, costing the company millions. Isuzu never ventured into car building again."
"The World's Worst Cars" Financial Failures/ Isuzu Piazza pg162
I've read that article at least six times, and stared deep and long into the picture of the sexy white Piazza turbo accompaning it. For shame..... As far as 109,199 sold, that is over a span of 10 years, so 10,919 a year. Not sure those are the numbers Isuzu was hoping for. In any case hopefully we can agree this car deserved better.
Check the thread about Speed Hunters HR30-DR30 Skyline identification mix up.
If you can find the publisher and author of that book, please add their names to the list of poorly researched and written automobile books.
Then read the link previously provided for the Isuzu Piazza information:
(found a direct link)
Compare that information to what you cited from the book.
Isuzu is the oldest _car_ manufacturer in Japan. Not the oldest truck manufacturer, but the oldest car manufacturer. Isuzu was building Wolsleys in 1922, 40 or 50 years before many of today's popular car makers started making bicycles and washing machines. Somewhere I have a picture of one of these being used as a Japanese army staff car prior to WWII. They partnered with Rootes in 1953 and were making Hilman Minx cars with 100% Japanese content by 1957. They introduced their own completely domestically designed and manufactured car in 1961, the Bellel. And then the Bellett in 1963. The Bellett was developed specifically for it's sporting potential, with the primary design input coming from the group within Isuzu who were involved with racing and putting together racing packages for the Hillman Minx cars being used in professional racing in Japan in the late 1950's and early 1960's.
The Bellett and Bellett GT were the primary rival to the Prince/Nissan Skyline in 60's grand prix racing in Japan, and the threat by the Bellett was one of the primary motivations for Nissan to introduce their Skyline GTR, within a few months of the Bellett GT-R. This certainly indicates that the Bellett was no slouch and that Isuzu had success in building cars at the same time they had success in building commercial trucks.
in the mid 1960's, at a time when Nissan and others were turning to Italian design houses for styling, Isuzu commissioned Giugiaro of Ghia (later Italdseign) to design their 117 Coupe sports car. Hand built and standing alongside the Toyota 2000GT in stature and importance in Japanese automotive history.
The replacement for the Bellett in 1974 came with joint developemnt with General Motors, the Bellett-Gemini, later called the Gemini. It's sister cars include the Chevette, but more notably also the Opel Kadett GTE. The Kadette GTE has a rather noteworthy raeputation as a rally car in Europe, and I am understating this for humor sake. But the Kadett GTE was not available with a 1.6 liter DOHC or 1.8 liter DOHC engine, and the Japanese Gemini sister car was. The Gemini has its own well deserved and earned reputaion as a race car in both Japan and Australia, supporting its own one marque racing series in both countries, and some first in class finishes in Australia's Bathurst race.
Marco Ruiz states in The Complete History of the Japanese Car, 1917 to Present (1986) that 102,883 cars were built by Isuzu in 1978 (Geminis, 117 Coupes, and Florian sedan which replaced the Bellel). That's not a company with no track record of building cars prior to 1980.
And the donor chassis for the Piazza, modified from the Gemini, is the same track proven design found in the Kadett GTE, but now with a 2 liter DOHC engine.
Isuzu did not turn to Lotus to fix the Piazza. Isuzu used its ties through GM to offer trim packages by not only Lotus, but also Irmscher. Comparable trim packages were also offered for the Gemini, Aska (Florian replacement), Bighorn, Wizard, Mu, etc. None of these vehicles required Lotus to "fix" them either. They were sport packages offered above the basic model to entice sales of more expensive cars, using well recognized names. And the Irmscher tuned cars had better handling, less body roll, and quicker slalom times than the Lotus tuned alternatives with the same engine. Bbut no one says Irmscher was hired to fix the Piazza or any of the other cars either.
I know of no examples to show poor build quality for the Piazza. It has spots that rust and things that break just like any other car out there. I've seen plenty of Hondas and Toyotas half the age of my cars but with more damage and rust.
Engine and electronics are particularly robust, especially when compared to the GM sourced replacements for the Bosch/Hitachi system used in the rear wheel drive Piazza. It will idle as steady as a rock. You can use the ECU as a hammer, put it back in, and it will still start, idle like a rock, and run perfectly. GM's Delco ECUs are junk.
Piazzas are not, however, built like a brick s**t house and intended to be used as a work bench or saw horse. The Piazza is an economy priced specialty market car with luxury appointments as standard. It's not a pickup truck or a jeep and it doesn't have quarter inch thick steel floor pan or exterior panels. Treat it like the semi-sports car it is and it rewards you with many, many years of faithful service. Abuse it and beat it like an unwanted dog and it will return the sentiment in spades.
Sales numbers are comparable to any other Japanese car maker of the time who did not have a huge North American presence, or was restricted by their company partner, GM, on marketing in any market they might be competing with GM for sales. Perhaps those sales numbers are even impressive when considering the marketing and sales restrictions faced by Isuzu at the time.
Now, the nice people who wrote and published "The World's Worst Cars" did not research their topic very well. But they published a book and are cited as a credible information source, despite the fact that what they wrote is more rubbish than the topic of their book.
So when are Ben, Kev, and company going start publishing well written and well researched books on these subjects so that we can all find credible, fact based information about these cars?