Nation’s Most Popular Truck Range Turns 60
Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) and Isuzu Motors Limited (Japan) 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.
Pictured: 1959 Isuzu ELF
The first generation, two-tonne, cab-over design Elf sported a 1.5 litre, 1,491 cc petrol engine, producing 60 PS (44 kW). And 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 build options for dedicated applications, such as a beverage truck, a rubbish truck, and a tanker variant.
Extremely popular in its local and surrounding markets, the Elf first breached those home boundaries in the late seventies, where it found a loyal following in Australia (then operating as Bedford by Isuzu).
The third generation Elf (N Series) was taken up to replace ageing KA, KS, KT, TLD and TLG models. By 1978 and following a range of updates and refinements, Isuzu sold their millionth Elf worldwide.
Pictured: 1984 Isuzu NPR
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.
Numbers don’t lie, and when it comes to the popularity of the N Series in Australia, this adage certainly rings true. According to Isuzu Australia Limited’s records, stretching 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.
Pictured: 1998 Isuzu NPR
“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 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.
“It’s a testament to the original cab-over concept conceived back in the late fifties. Its qualities have resonated across just about every application imaginable and have certainly stood the test of time,” Mr Harbison said.
Pictured: 2019 Isuzu NPS Servicepack X