1972 Isuzu Bellett Sport
Last updated on November 6, 2013
I have been recently looking for a 'new' Bellett after I sold my last GT in 2005.
Another GT would be nice but I thought of looking for a Sport Sedan to be different ! There are no known 2 door Sports Bellett's in Australia so the hunt began, in Japan. i.e. the intention to import a Bellett from Japan.
This has proven far more difficult than what I imagined. First is finding a suitable car then cost of course. Shipping to Australia from Japan is not a cheap exercise. There is obviously the boat trip but also many other expenses involved. e.g. internal transport to the port in Japan, paying spotters in Japan etc.
After many disappointments like finding a car, but then the owner is not happy to ship out of Japan. Also, a number of cars were not mobile. i.e.. Cannot be driven onto the roll-on roll-off ship which is the cheapest way to bring a car in. The alternate is container shipping. Neither of these is easy to do youself so an agent needs to be found to organise everything.
So, in early July, 2012, this Bellett was found. Actually, it was found some months earlier but the fact it's not going, meant problems in shipping. Later however, it came back on the market after a break and I found a way to get it here in a contaioner (thanks Jason!) It's a 1972 Sport which appears in reasonable condition, but is not mobile. (Ignition problems the owner says) So, it has to come via a container ship. This particular car also comes with a fair few new and used parts which had to be fitted inside also, to reduce costs and losses etc.
To import to Australia though, one must have Import Approval certificate from the Australian Government. This is kinda weird as you must purchase the car then apply for approval ! What happens if you don't get approval, I don't know. There is a fee (of course) for the certificate also. The certificate has been applied for and the wait continues. It can take 6-8 weeks I am told. Right now (early Aug) it's been about 6 weeks wait so hopefull its very close now for the piece of paper !
UPDATE: Aug 2012, Approval is in !! 14th Aug, 2012:- Car is due to arrive in Australia about the 20th Sept, 2012. ......I can't wait !
UPDATE: 29th Sept, the spares car has now arrived and in my possession. The car below will be with me on 1st October.
As you can see the car is a late model Bellett. A 1972 model in fact. The last Bellett's were made in 1973. Weird grille and very large tail lights, something we are not used to, as the last Bellett to be officially imported to Australia would have been in 1968. A few late Bellett's have arrived since, as private imports, though all GT (coupe) models as far as I know.
The Sport models were available in Japan in either 4 or 2 door models. Apparently both are fairly rare so I was lucky to find this 2 door.. The Sport is based on the 4 door sedan but with some GT parts fitted. Full gauges for example, GT disk brakes but not the close ratio gear box with remote shifter. Bonnet vents fitted also. Doors are longer than the 4 door model and are probably from the GT coupe with different window frame to suit the sedans higher roofline. This model has the SOHC 1800cc engine which again, were never imported to Australia. "1800 Sport" & Bellett badges fitted on both front mud guards also. Car appears to be very complete and straight though. A little rust at rear pan, hopefully not much else.
The engine bay is a bit untidy. It seems the custom in Japan is for some owners to paint the engine bay black for some reason. Yuk !
So, that needs to be fixed up at some time in the future, as does that white hose which needs to be replaced with the black rubber type. I think there is a spare part with the car. Lot's of cleaning and re-plating of the brackets etc on the engine will be done also as time allows.
The engine apparently has "ignition problems" and is not running. I am hopeful that the white box over the coil area is a CDI or similar and is faulty. In any case, I will revert back to the standard ignition setup initially to see what happens. Hopefully, it will then run. Maybe a DOHC conversion but then again, finding a DOHC is not so easy either nor would it be the right thing to do!. There is a big risk of course in buying the car like this. Some blind faith is needed. Actually a LOT of blind faith !
Update 1st Aug 2012, Jason found a 2 litre 1979 "117" DOHC engine also, with 5 speed gearbox and hoping to be able to buy it for the same shipment. I think I will just fit the 5 speed to the better car though as Bellett's tend to rev around 3300rpm at 100kph which is tiring on a longish trip. The overdrive would be great to have. Did I mention I also will get a 'spare' Sport in the buy also with incomplete engine so the DOHC might find it's way into that in the future. The spare car though has a lot of surface rust, having been outside for some time. I don't know the condition of the rest of the car either except it has no seats or light, grille etc. It may not be economic to repair so might just be for spare parts. Will see.
The 117 coupe 2000cc DOHC with 5 speed gearbox I hope to get also. Supposedly has 83,000 km on it.
This is a shot of the rear suspension. The car has been lowered and fitted with the optional "stage 3" suspension which is a bonus. i.e. 4 leaf rear spring and who knows what else. This was never an option in Australia so exact details are not known. However, it is obvious the car will ride VERY firmly !
Most likely, the exhaust system will need replacement also but this should be easy and cheap to do.
The front disk brakes may need attention too. This is where things might get awkward though, as parts are simply not available for re-co of the calipers. A change to a local disk conversion might be needed.
Quite a bit to do, to get it running and roadworthy with Club Permit for use on the road. I washoping to get the car ready for the Bellett Nationals in October but this proved impossible.
Thats the 'spare parts' car to left and some doors also behind.
Hard to see, but the car has Japanese Watanabe alloy wheels. Not real keen on all black wheels so might get the rim polished or the whole wheel re-coloured. No hurry though for that. Car seems to be covered in small bits of concrete spatters which had to be removed. Very difficult though to remove from the wheels so they will need a re-paint.
Note that the later model cars have flow through ventilation through the side vents. Australian delivered cars never had this. The rear window is heated also I believe.
October 20th. I now have the car in my possesion. It was damaged in transit which is a nuisance as more work to do. Bonnet (hood) and bootlid mainly but also underside damage due to a forklift being used to move from container etc I guess. It was fine when it left Japan so I assume damage was done here in Australia.
I fitted a spare distributor from the parts car and a new coil and she fired up immediately ! It appears the electronic ignition system (non-std) was faulty. ODO meter is not working so the reading is obviously very suspect.
On inspection, some rust was found in the left sill. A new sill was made and fitted. One thing led to another, both front mudguards also needed repairs too. Various other small 'niggles' were attended to. Car is not restored as such, simply tidied up and made safe for road use.
Some damage in transit also to the boot lid. Another one has been found (thanks Gary at the Bellett Nationals) and has been stripped and re-painted for the car.
I removed the brake components and had the master and slave cylinders stainless steel sleeved and new seals etc fitted. Carpets are original an have shrink so will need re-doing in future but for now, the original "Isuzu Bellett" branded rubber mats will stay in place.
Dec 2012: The Sport has now been Engineered (certified) for local conditions (ADR's) Seat belts had to be fitted to the rear and this involved some bracket making to please the Engineer for the top mounts. Bottom mounts were already present in the body.
Late Dec, 2012, passed the RWC with minor issues and is now on the Vic Club Permit scheme for limited road use.
Paint was apprently re-done, I am guessing perhaps 10 years ago. Door sill area and front fenders had to be repaired. Boot lid damaged in transit also now repaired. Wheels could do with re-painting which will be done asap.
Engine seems fairly good, no smoke, starts easily and quite torquey compared to the Belletts I have had in the past. I would have prefered to have the remote shifter like the GT's have but it seems this about the only chnage from the GT mechanicals that it runs. Even the unassisted disk brakes seem better than I remember.
Suspension is very FIRM, a legacy of the stage 3 option fitted to this car. Perhaps I am getting old, but a bit too firm for me really.
New seat belts, front & rear, fitted, otherwise interior is stock, but not bad for a 40 year old car. Carpets have shrunk a bit but otherwise OK. The later Belletts had a plastic rather a wood rim steerin g wheel which is a pity.
ODO meter was stuck, now fixed and the fuel gauge was intermittent which turned out to be a faulty sender unit. Interestingly, this car appears to have a 46 litre tank, rather than the 40 litres of most Bellett's.
There are still some things to do over time, to further tidy up the Sport. It's no 'show winner' as it is and never will be. I just don't have the drive these days to spend the time and money going completely over the car.
Page created on 26th July 2012 © Glenn
Last updated on November 6, 2013