The Isuzu 117 Coupé was a compact Gran Turismo type 2-door fastback coupe manufactured by Isuzu Motors Ltd. in Japan from 1968 to 1981. The 117 was a codename for a common development program of Isuzu mid-size cars, involving a coupé, sedan and station wagon. The latter two eventually became the Isuzu Florian, but the coupe kept the original name, and both models shared mechanicals, including the complete FR layout chassis with recirculating ball steering.
The car was styled by the famous Giorgetto Giugiaro, being one of the first Japanese cars designed by an Italian stylist. It was among the first Japanese cars with a DOHC engine, and the first with electronic fuel injection. It can also be regarded as the world's first sports car to be available with a diesel engine.
The 117 Coupé was quite an exclusive vehicle during its lifetime, and is a rare collectible now, but thanks to its unusually long lifecycle, Isuzu manufactured as many as 86,192 units. The 117 Coupé was replaced by the Isuzu Piazza in the Isuzu lineup.
The 117 Coupé was debuted as a prototype at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, and was later shown at the Tokyo Motor Show the same year. In 1968, Isuzu started preliminary small-scale production of 117 Coupés, which were effectively handmade in amounts not exceeding 50 a month. The first engine available was a 1.6 L DOHC I4, and in 1970, an electronic fuel injection unit from Bosch debuted, using the D-Jetronic system. The model fitted with fuel injection was named the EC (for "electronic control").
The car came with a long list of standard equipment (including leather seats, dashboard trim made of Taiwanese camphor laurel wood, and headrests) and was very expensive for Japanese standards. This concerned also the less luxurious 1800N version added in 1971, powered by a simpler 1.8 L SOHC carbureted engine.
With the 117 Coupé becoming a very popular and desired model, and the advent of the cooperation with General Motors, Isuzu decided to shift the model to mass production. The 1.8 L engine became standard, with several versions available, with or without fuel injection and with DOHC or SOHC valvetrains.
In 1977, Isuzu decided to afford the 117 Coupé a facelift, which resulted in replacing the previous front fascia with four round headlights with more modern one with rectangular lights (keeping their number). In an effort to further decrease manufacturing costs, plastic moldings were used in the interior. In 1978, the 2.0 L engine debuted, and in 1979 the XD diesel-powered version was added.
Starting in 1979, a special version called the Giugiaro Edition was available. Production of the 117 Coupé lasted until 1981, when it was replaced by the Piazza, also styled by Giugiaro.