It was a prominent fixture on our roads back in the day. Most examples were sporting a yellow paint job with a white roof. This was the humble Isuzu Gemini, which was known back in the 1980s as the taxicab of choice for most operators.
This was due to the fact that the Gemini sold by Isuzu back then had the distinction of being the only subcompact sedan with a diesel engine. While its roughly 65bhp engine wasn’t much to speak of in terms of power delivery even during this day of carburetor-equipped gas engines and even slower mechanical fuel injection diesel mills, the upside was great fuel economy.
But the Gemini was more than just a taxi for the Filipino people. Sold from the mid-70s to the early 1980s, there were well-to-do families that also saw it as an ideal service vehicle for the kids’ use. It could take the youngsters to school and bring them to their extra curricular activities without necessarily breaking the fuel budget.
First time car buyers looking for an economical mode of transport also gravitated toward the Gemini diesel. And for what its worth, cars back then were considered bare by today’s standards. So putting in a good stereo and having arctic air-conditioning mixed with excellent fuel economy was more than one could ask for in daily transport.
Apart from the diesel mill, the Gemini also had a gasoline mill and two-door version. These were the ride of choice for those that were into rallying and looking for something a bit sportier. It could work hard but played even harder.
So yes, this was the versatile Isuzu Gemini. While it wasn’t exactly a best-seller like say, the Mitsubishi Lancer or Toyota Corolla or Corona Silver Edition, it did cater to a wide audience looking for a cheap yet decent set of wheels.