The Isuzu Fargo is a commercial vehicle manufactured between 1980 and 2001 by Isuzu in Japan. The Fargo spanned two generations, the first of which was sold between 1980 and 1995 as both van and utility body styles, with the second generation, introduced in 1995 confined to a single van body style. This second generation was a badge engineered version of the Nissan Caravan E24, as opposed to an Isuzu design.
Between 1982 and 1990 the first generation Fargo was marketed in Australia by Holden, the Australian subsidiary of General Motors as the Holden Shuttle. In Europe and New Zealand, the first series Isuzu Fargo was sold under the Isuzu WFR name. It was also built in the United Kingdom by Vauxhall Motors and sold as the Bedford Midi, then the Vauxhall Midi. Export versions of the Midi in Europe were badged Bedford Seta, General Motors Midi, GME Midi, and Isuzu Midi.
1st Generation (1980-1995)
The first generation Isuzu Fargo was introduced in December 1980 with a 1.6 and 1.8 litre petrol engines, and a 1.8 litre diesel engine.
Designed very much in the mould of contemporary Japanese vehicles of the time, it featured an underfloor engine.
Japanese market timeline
- August 1981: 2.0 litre diesel van introduced.
- March 1982: 1.8 litre gasoline and 2.0 litre diesel engines introduced.
- July 1982: Introduction of luxury-oriented nine-seater LS van, featuring a standard sunroof among other features.
- November 1983: Part-time diesel four-wheel drive model introduced.
- January 1984: Turbo diesel engines made standard across wagon range
- November 1984: Four-wheel drive van added.
- January 1986: Changes to instrument panel.
- January 1987: Automatic transmission available on rear-wheel drive variants.
- September 1987:
- October 1988: Cab forward pickup (truck) body style added.
- January 1991: 2.4 litre 4FG1 diesel engine introduced, replacing 1.8 and 2.0 litre units. Design changes made to both the interior and exterior.
Bedford Midi / Vauxhall Midi
The General Motors-owned Vauxhall Motors offered a version of the Fargo as the "Bedford Midi" between 1985 and 1994. Following the sale of the Bedford Vehicles to AWD, the Bedford Midi was re-badged as the "Vauxhall Midi". Versions sold in continental Europe and Ireland were sold under various names, including "Bedford Seta", "General Motors Midi", "GME Midi", and "Isuzu Midi". Between 1983 and 1988, Industries Mécaniques Maghrébines (IMM) produced the Isuzu Midi at its Kairouan, Tunisia manufacturing facility.
Built in Luton, the Midi brought few changes to the Japanese Fargo and replaced the old Bedford CF van. This was very much a stop-gap design to replace the old CF range, however a true CF replacement never came. The van also signified the end of Bedford and its own designs as it was cheaper for GM to use other companies designs it co-owned. There were talks with Freight Rover during 1985 to produce the Sherpa 300 series van under licence which came to nothing by late 1986. There were also concerns over its crashworthiness in this same issue, following a test on the Japanese built WFR. Engines offered were both petrol (1.8 litre and 2.0 litre) and diesel (2.0, 2.2 or 2.4 turbo). The Midi could be ordered with either an old fashioned column mounted gear change allowing a third central passenger seat in the front, or with a conventional floor shift and was available in short and long wheelbase with a choice of standard or high roof lines. A mini-bus version, named the "Albany", was also produced.
The Midi was also restyled in 1989 and given a new dashboard panel and seating, together with new door trims and front-end fascia. The engine range remained much. While production ceased in 1994, both models were replaced by the Vauxhall Arena, a rebadged Renault Trafic in 1997.
General Motors' (GM) Australian subsidiary, Holden released the Isuzu Fargo van in February 1982 as the WFR series Holden Shuttle. The original release Shuttle was available in short- and long-wheelbase guises, in combination with either low- or high-roofs; all of which available with or without side cargo windows. Two engines were initially offered: a 1.8 litre 4ZB1 petrol rated at 65 kilowatts (87 hp), and a 2.0 litre 4FC1 diesel outputting 44 kilowatts (59 hp). In 1986, the 1.8 petrol was withdraw and replaced by the 2.0 litre 4ZC1 petrol producing 69 kilowatts (93 hp). All three engines were coupled with a four-speed manual transmission.
The single, cargo-carrying model was accompanied by the limited edition LS—a highly specified nine-seater people-mover variant in October 1982. Only 250 were built for Australian consumption, however, in August 1983, the LT nine-seater people mover was introduced. The lower specification LT was not equipped with the many of the LS Shuttle’s luxury features, including the dual-zone air conditioning. An AM/FM radio with Compact Cassette player and a digital clock were standard on the LT, with single-zone air conditioning available as an option. Both the LS and LT were powered exclusively by the petrol engine.
The Shuttle was subject to several minor facelifts and running changes over its production run. In mid-1983, a centre front seat was added. This consisted of two outer bucket seats and a centre bench seat, giving the impression of a single bench. June 1985 saw the model range restructured, with the five-speed manual transmission from the LS and LT models now standard on the base model. A facelifted model came in June 1986, involving the relocation of badging, re-shaped headlamps, and newly designed steel wheels for the base Shuttle. This refresh coincided with a reduced line-up; Holden deleted the diesel and long-wheelbase options. From December 1987, a four-speed automatic transmission option was made available, and the LT people-mover variant was removed—transforming the Shuttle into a single-model range. Holden discontinued the Shuttle in 1990, and opted not to replace it with another vehicle either developed by itself, or sourced from within the GM empire. The Shuttle's immediate predecessor were the Bedford CF-series vans sourced from the United Kingdom. These Bedford vans were not however, distributed under the "Holden" brand.