The truck which has led Isuzu’s dominance of the Australian truck market, the Elf, turns 60 this year. Renamed the N Series for the Australian market, this set of light duty truck models have headed the Isuzu truck sales results throughout the company’s 30 year leadership of the truck sales figures in this country.
The Elf was first introduced by Isuzu Motors in Japan in August 1959, originally made available predominantly in Japan and neighbouring Asian countries.
The first generation of the truck, with a GVM of two-tonne, had a cab-over design and a 1.5 litre, 1,491cc petrol engine, producing 60hp (44 kW). The original integrated bed was standard, 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 garbage truck, and a tanker variant.
The Elf first came to Australia in the late seventies, renamed as the N Series, where it found a loyal following in Australia (then operating as Bedford by Isuzu). By 1978 and following a range of updates and refinements, Isuzu sold their millionth Elf worldwide.
N Series was assembled in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s outer east, from 1984. Australia received the all-new N Series with Isuzu’s 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 cab design endured as the basis for many upgrades for years to follow.
According to Isuzu Australia’s records, stretching back to 1972, total sales of N Series models equates to 111,300 vehicles, just over half of the brand’s total sales across all weight segments since that time.
“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 Andrew Harbison, Isuzu COO. “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.”