Isuzu Bellet 1800 Sport

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Keywords: Isuzu Bellet 1800 Sport

Description: For Greg Moller, the car of his dreams was the Isuzu Bellett GT his father had in the early 1970s.

"I went to Main Roads about 28 years ago and gave them the rego number and they told me the address of the current owner. It had changed hands about four or five times," the RACQ Kilcoy depot owner says. "You couldn't do that these days as they don't give out that info. Anyway, I went and bought it back. I can't remember what I paid, but it had a surfboard on the roof. I took it home and stripped it back to the bare body shell and did a full resto on it."

Moller can't calculate how much he has spent on restoring his "old man's car" over the years. "I don't want to know. It's all right when you're forking out $400 or $500 at a time, but I don't want to total it up," he says. A Bellett GT recently sold for $13,500 and Moller has his 1967 GT insured for $18,000. But he won't sell. "It's been a part of my life almost all my life," he says.

Isuzu Bellett was a small car made in Japan from 1963 to 1973. It was the successor to the Hillman Minx and later became the Isuzu Bellett Gemini, then the Isuzu Gemini and finally the Holden Gemini. However, the front-wheel-drive Holden Gemini has little to do mechanically with the original rear-wheel-drive Isuzu Bellett.

"Only 1 per cent of the parts are interchangheable with the Gemini," Moller says. His two-door GT is the first Japanese car to carry the "Gran Turismo" badge. He replaced the original 1600cc engine with an 1800cc twin-cam from an Isuzu 177, the same engine as in the Gemini ZZZ and Holden Piazza. Apart from high-tension cables, new wheels, an electric fuel pump and SAAS seats, the rest of the car is original.

Finding parts for the rare car required long nights of Googling. Most parts came from Japan, plus a windscreen from Thailand, the mirrors from Holland and a water pump from the US. Moller hasn't had it dynoed, but he says it's good for about 75kW and wife Liz says "it hammers". She has performed a lot of the restoration work alongside her husband.

He says "a lot of weekends we can't go anywhere because we're on call, so I'd tinker in the shed." She says "I thought 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em'. Plus it's the only way I get to spend time with him."

So they bought an old Escort for her to restore, but no one at the depot liked Fords, so they wouldn't work on it. Liz liked the lines of the Isuzu Wasp utility, so she ditched the Escort and began searching for the ute which is even rarer than the GT. There are only 18 on the road in Australia and 22 accounted for. A year later they found a 1965 model Wasp and bought it for $1800.

There is now a total of 10 Isuzu Belletts on their Kilcoy property in various stages of restoration including one ex-PNG rally car belonging to his father, Geoff.

The couple plan to take three of their treasures to the Bellett Nationals at Coonabarabran in central NSW on October 23-24.



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