That Time Isuzu Made A Formula One Engine And Put It In A Pickup

What happens when you put a 3.5-litre V12 race engine into a ute? You get this - the Isuzu Como F1 Super Truck
That Time Isuzu Made A Formula One Engine And Put It In A Pickup

As of late, Isuzu’s product line has turned a bit drab and utilitarian. But that doesn’t mean the company hasn’t been responsible for some truly bizarre creations throughout its history. Although most people associate Isuzu with diesel engines and dependable utility vehicles, the Japanese manufacturer had a bit of a mad streak from the late 1980s into the early ‘90s. Along with a series of outrageous concept cars (including the quirky VehiCross SUV, which eventually entered production), Isuzu had aspirations of entering a world with which it wasn’t at all familiar: Formula One racing.

The P799WE--a 3.5-litre, Formula One-spec V12 engine developed by Isuzu. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
The P799WE--a 3.5-litre, Formula One-spec V12 engine developed by Isuzu. …

Isuzu’s brief foray into motorsport seemed no less bewildering in 1991 than it does today. But behind the scenes at Isuzu was a skunkworks project aimed at punting the company to the forefront of open-wheel racing. Isuzu had secretly developed a 3.5-litre DOHC V12 race engine that cranked out around 640bhp at 12,500rpm. The engine, codenamed P799WE, was designed to comply with Formula One specifications. All it needed was a car.

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At the same time, Team Lotus was looking for an engine to power their 102C racer. It looked like Isuzu would be the company to supply Team Lotus with an engine for the 1992 Formula One season. During testing at Silverstone, the P799WE-powered 102C showed a lot of promise on the track, and sounded even better. Apparently, tough diesels weren’t the only engines Isuzu could build.

Sadly, the Formula One venture never came to fruition. The popping of Japan’s economic bubble hurt Isuzu Motors badly, forcing it to pull the plug on its partnership with Team Lotus. This left Isuzu with an incredible V12 engine that had no useful purpose whatsoever. Not wanting their efforts to go to waste, the company decided to showcase the P799WE in the most outlandish way possible: by putting it in a pickup truck.

That Time Isuzu Made A Formula One Engine And Put It In A Pickup

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. The 1991 Isuzu Como F1 Super Truck was an aptly-named lapse of sanity. Designed by Simon Cox, who would later draft the equally bonkers Cadillac Cien, the Como F1 was everything that a real-world pickup truck isn’t. It had scissor doors, sleek aerodynamics and a mid-mounted P799WE V12 with more power than the future McLaren F1. Although official performance figures are nonexistent, it goes without saying that this souped-up ute could fly like a bat out of hell. What’s more, the rear load compartment meant the Como wasn’t completely impractical, either.

That Time Isuzu Made A Formula One Engine And Put It In A Pickup

Not surprisingly, the Como F1 Super Truck wasn’t commercially viable. It was, however, one of the coolest concept cars of the 1990s. On paper, the notion of a pickup truck powered by a Formula One-spec V12 engine seems completely ridiculous, and possibly even obscene. But the Como F1 was really a testament to Isuzu’s untapped potential as a carmaker. By showcasing the company’s engineering prowess along with its avant-garde creativity, the Como F1 makes you wonder what would have happened if Isuzu invested a bit more in its passenger car operations. For the moment, however, the only way you’ll likely be able to drive a mid-engined Isuzu is if you pursue a career as a bus driver.


GTRTURTLE 🔰 🐢(Oo \ S K Y L I N E / oO) (Koen

Does anyone else remember when Formula 1 was cool?

05/20/2018 - 13:54 |
16 | 14

F1 is as ‘cool’ as it has ever been imo .

05/20/2018 - 13:57 |
10 | 6

And interesting

05/20/2018 - 14:02 |
6 | 6

Why is it not cool?
They’re some of, if not, the most advance race cars in the world!
The speed is absolutely insane!
It’s a toure de fource of technological wonder!

05/20/2018 - 14:49 |
2 | 0

You must be confused! You can’t have an opinion! That’s wrong! Pity you, here boys let’s downvote him and share our perhaps more mainstreamed ideas to assert our dominance!

05/20/2018 - 16:57 |
2 | 0

Awesome post, Kyle! I’m honestly surprised I’ve never heard of this.

05/20/2018 - 13:54 |
148 | 0
Kyle Ashdown

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks Kyle!

P.S: your first name is just as wise as your last ;)

05/20/2018 - 14:32 |
142 | 0

Wait, Isuzu still exists?

05/20/2018 - 13:58 |
26 | 0

yup, they still make pick-ups today

05/20/2018 - 14:03 |
40 | 0

Yes they still exist. They’re still around the middle east, here in India and other Oceania countries. They mostly offer two vehicles - a luxury SUV and a pick up called the D-Max… which my dad’s friend’s son got the Ice Lander off road kit fitted to it. I had an opportunity drive it and it was terrible. :/

05/20/2018 - 17:33 |
6 | 0

Yes.And the make this sh*tbox

05/21/2018 - 09:08 |
0 | 0

Toyota, when are you coming back to F1 so that we can see a hilux fitted with an F1 engine put into production.

05/20/2018 - 14:12 |
60 | 0

i remember being obsessed with this

05/20/2018 - 14:41 |
2 | 0

When you gotta drop off groceries at 3 and then hit the track at 4.

05/20/2018 - 15:03 |
48 | 0
Ducktail 2.7

I think this tops even the manual diesel V12 Audi R8. Great post, really interesting.

05/20/2018 - 15:40 |
12 | 0

Gotta love the ‘Why? Because we can!’ type of cars

05/20/2018 - 15:55 |
12 | 0
Andrew G.

It’s like an even more futuristic Japanese Dodge Deora

05/20/2018 - 16:44 |
26 | 0

More like Deora II IMO.

05/20/2018 - 22:59 |
8 | 0

The title is honestly one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read. And I’ve read American Psycho.

05/20/2018 - 16:56 |
4 | 0


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