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Hi and welcome, RJ! This is just my own opinion and the guys may have MUCH better ideas: I'm a die-hard Dodge guy, but a dear friend gave me a free '74 Chevy LUV pickup. From a mechanical standpoint I didn't think much of it and it wasn't a Dodge. These were made by Isuzu and now I've got to say, it's one great little truck!

They're super light and have an excellent gearbox. Torsion bar front suspension, ala Mopar, means you can just notch up the t-bars to add more front 'spring' lift, like for a heavier engine. Later models had disc brakes and the early drums are hard to get parts for. The Isuzu Trooper's could be had with a strong limited slip rear that's a bolt-in. These trucks handle as good as many sports cars, are real small and very well built.

I only have only one single complaint about mine: IT DOESN'T HAVE A DIESEL [hint, hint...] Isuzu made a diesel version of these trucks! If I had your engine sitting out there I'd be wrenching right now instead of doing the keyboard hunt and peck.
 

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Hard to find a good rocking chair nowadays though....
 
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