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by Jay Traugott
The end of the compact pickup may be over for the US market, but plenty of fans out there still love to turn them into awesome street rods such as this.
Last weekend I wrote a piece showcasing a 1978 Datsun 620 compact pickup. Judging by several readers' comments, the absence of the compact pickup from the marketplace is missed by many including myself. Unless anyone plans on moving to the Far East or South America, don't count on any mainstream automaker building or importing small pickups to the US anytime soon, most likely never. Perhaps the only future possibility is a Nissan Leaf pickup variant.
That was a joke and hopefully no one at Nissan was listening (we wouldn't want them taking it seriously). So this past week I was recalling the years in which seeing small pickups on American roads was a daily site. For a good chunk of my childhood years, there was always a neighbor or two who had a compact pickup parked in their driveway, but there was one guy who was constantly tinkering with his. That Chevy S-10 itself was mechanically sound but this neighbor had other plans for it. Specifically, he was tuning the hell out of the thing. Unfortunately I was too young to pay attention to the specifics of that project.
But when I found this 1989 Isuzu pickup custom street rod for sale on eBay, the memories of my old neighbor's pickup quickly came back. For full disclosure's sake, my neighbor's custom truck wasn't quite as awesome as the outcome of this particular Isuzu pickup. Starting off as a simple 1989 Isuzu Space Cab pickup, a father and son team managed to turn it into this V8-powered truck rocket. Powered by a 345 horsepower GM ZZ4 crate engine, the exterior was given a complete makeover consisting of many coats of paint that's still in good shape overall, though there are a few rock chips on the surface that need to be touched up.
Other custom features include a Sony sound system with six-disc CD changer (never said this was a new build), a removable roof, a custom neon lit infinity box, a hydraulic lift box with remote and brushed aluminum wheels. Mechanically, the father-son team added a competition manifold with an Edelbrock carburetor, aluminum head with roller cam, a GM four-speed automatic transmission with an electric shift kit, remote door openers and plenty of other fun bits. Named "Chopsui" by its builders, this one of a kind custom pickup has just 4,700 miles on the odometer and it's won various truck show awards since the completion of its three year build.
It's been enjoyed by its owners for 12 years now and they feel it's time to share the joy it's given them. It can be used as a daily driver and will surely turn heads everywhere it goes. With SEMA 2013 just around the corner, we're bound to see more customized, but full-size pickups. As interesting as some may turn out to be, a custom low riding street rod like this looks best as a compact truck.