VIDEO: The Gemini was Isuzu’s most popular passenger car

Introduced in 1974, the Isuzu Gemini was known by many names around the world. Depending on the country, it was sold as a Chevy, Buick, Opel, Holden, Vauxhall, Daewoo, Saehan, and probably a few more. In Japan, though, it was initially named the Isuzu Bellett Gemini to denote its place as a successor to Isuzu’s main (and by then outdated) 1960s compact. Its name derived from the constellation of twins, a nod to its developed for GM’s the auto giant’s global platform program.

The Bellett part of the name was dropped in 1975, and the Gemini went on to become Isuzu’s mos popular passenger car. In fact, it was so popular, that this FR Gemini continued to be built even after the Gemini’s second-gen front-drive successor was introduced in 1985. The two were sold alongside each other until February 1988. In total, 768,537 were produced according to Isuzu.

The yellow one in Isuzu’s museum collection is an early PF50 TL sedan. It was restored as part of a 2004 company reorganization initiative that took all the cars that had been stored at various factories and warehouses and sent them to the prototyping department for restoration. Even so, the project couldn’t begin until 2008, when Isuzu labeled the restorations a “knowledge transfer” project. Now, the museum houses 31 cars and trucks that get to be enjoyed by fans of classics and Japan’s industrial history.

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8 Responses to VIDEO: The Gemini was Isuzu’s most popular passenger car

  1. Christopher Huffine says:

    I had a ’78 Holden Gemini when I was living in Adelaide in ’98 to ’99. Nice dependable car, although it was a bit rough around the edges. Only had $1500 to spend on a car at the time, but it served well as basic transpo, and had ice cold air!

  2. BlitzPig says:

    I owned a “Buick Opel” SC from new. It was fun to drive and spritely for it’s time, but sadly it just was not up to the quality standards of the current Toyota vehicles. It developed a growly transmission bearing very early on, was “repaired” under warranty, and the symptom reappeared after about the same number of miles post repair. At that point the interior was showing it’s fragile nature, and rust was starting to make itself known. So I dumped it. In the final analysis it was a cute, but forgettable little tin box.

  3. MikeRL411 says:

    This “Buick Opel” was a popular car with Rent-a-car agencies in San Jose CA. I worked with a German Swiss engineer who was impressed with his Opel. He would not believe me when I told him it was a Japanese car.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I’ve still got my classic 1975 TX Coupe!
    It does everything a small car should. Even hits up the wet track and race track every so often!
    Got some videos of it here!

  5. Kyle Oliva says:

    Older folks here in my country will remember this being used by taxi fleets throughout the 80s and 90s, until the E100 series Corollas took over. Our cousins also used to own not one but two. Greetings from the Philippines!

  6. Daniel says:

    in Argentina it was the opel k-180 that was manufactured and had versions with some engine power. my father, without having had one, had good memories of traveling with one of his co-workers, comfortable for 4 adults. also a neighbor (who was my father’s teacher in high school) had one until a few years ago when he died. The myth that it was a “baby Chevrolet” spread that its engine was actually a Chevrolet 250 from which they removed 2 cylinders. nowadays it’s hard to see any in good condition around here, one of the last compact rear-wheel drive along with the dodge / vw 1500 (hillman avenger) by the way in the early 90’s we had the gmc chevette in 2 and 4 doors that was a reincarnation of this Isuzu.

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