Holden Rodeo

Carpedia  ·  September 8, 2019

Holden Rodeo

The Holden Rodeo is a compact utility vehicle or pick-up truck released in Australia and New Zealand in 1980. It is available in 2-door single-cab, 2-door extended cab, and 4-door crew-cab body styles and front-engine rear-wheel or four-wheel drive layouts. 

While the Holden Rodeo ute was introduced only in 1980, it was not a totally new vehicle in the Australasian market. It was preceded by its younger generation, the Chevrolet LUV and, later, the Isuzu KB. Here’s its history in brief:

1972-1977 – the Chevrolet LUV (light utility vehicle) was first introduced in Australia. It was a rebadged first-generation Isuzu Faster, which was imported by Holden from Japan. 

1977-1980 – the Chevrolet LUV was upgraded, and Holden rebranded it as Isuzu KB. In other parts of the world, it carried the nameplates: Isuzu LUV, Isuzu KB, Bedford KB, Faster Rodeo (4x4 version), and its former name—Chevrolet LUV.

1980-1988 – Holden Rodeo was released in Australasia. It was upgraded and rebadged Isuzu KB (aka the second-generation Isuzu Faster). The Isuzu KB was marketed worldwide under various nameplates: Bedford KB, Isuzu Pick-up, Isuzu Faster-Z, Faster Rodeo (for 4x4), and Holden Rodeo. The first-generation Holden Rodeo was correspondingly referred to as the KB series. 

1988-2003 – the second-generation Holden Rodeo, aka the TF series—and aka the third-generation Isuzu Faster—was produced. 

2003-2008 – the third-generation Holden Rodeo rolled off from the production plants, but this time, it was not based on the Isuzu Faster. Instead, it was now produced based on the first-generation Isuzu D-Max, which replaced the Isuzu Faster.  

So strictly, the Holden Rodeo came to Australia and New Zealand in 1980, but its forebears had preceded it eight years earlier.

1st Generation: KB Series (1980-1988)

To fully understand the underpinnings of the KB series produced in 1980, we have to look at the earlier models on which it was based.

In 1972, the Japanese automaker Isuzu Motors released the Isuzu Faster with chassis codes KB20 and KB25 (regular and long wheelbase, respectively). In Australia, the Isuzu Faster with the short-wheelbase configuration (KB20) was sold as Chevrolet LUV. In 1977, it was marketed as Isuzu KB with three variants offered, namely:

1981: Launching

In 1980, these models were upgraded as the second-generation Isuzu Faster. They were launched in Australia in 1981 and rebranded as the Holden Rodeo KB series. The first-generation Holden Rodeos were offered in both pick-up truck and chassis cab (half-truck) variants and in the rear- and four-wheel drive options. They were available in the same 1.6L petrol and 2.0L diesel engines that used to power their immediate predecessors. Both power options were paired with either a floor- or column-shifter 4-speed manual transmission. Appearance-wise, the Rodeos wore circular headlamps and horizontal-bar bumper grille, and they were fitted with 14-inch wheels. 

1983: Facelifts and engine updates

The 1983 model year was introduced with rectangular headlamps, restyled mirrors, and a 12-port front grille. The powertrain was updated to the following specs:

1984: Engine update

1985: Facelifts and powertrain updates

Several changes were introduced to the Holden Rodeo this year, including the addition of a 2-door space cab in its lineup of models. The previous options of column shifter and 4-speed manual transmission were discontinued; thus, the floor-mounted 5-speed manual gearbox became the standard. A new engine was also introduced, which was:

1987: Final facelift of the KB series

The 1987 model year of the Holden Rodeo received a restyled grille, which was more open and designed with four rectangular ports. Power steering was offered as an option.

2nd Generation: TF Series (1988-2003)

1988 marked the second-generation Holden Rodeo, codenamed TF series. It must be noted that this series was based on the third-generation Isuzu Faster. In Japan, the RWD versions retained the name Isuzu Faster, while the 4WD models were branded Isuzu Rodeo. In other parts of the globe, the TF series carried different badges as well, namely:

1988: Launching

In the launching year, the TF series was offered in Australia in 2-door single cab, 2-door space cab, and 4-door crew cab body styles with the following engines:

The series also came in three trim levels—the DX (or base trim), LX (mid-range RWD/top-range 4WD), and LT (top-range for RWD petrol crew cab only).

1997: Facelifts and new trim levels

While Japanese sales ended in 1994, the production of the Isuzu Faster TF series (for the export market) in China continued until 2002. In 1997, the TF series received some cosmetic updates, including a redesigned dashboard and a slightly curved-down nose.  

1998: Trim and engine updates

An LT Sport trim level was introduced but was only available for the 4x4 crew cab. Front airbags were offered as options. The engine offerings were updated as follows:

During this time, the 3.2L engine was the most powerful pick-up truck engine in Australia and, thus, allowed the Holden Rodeo to acquire a good share of the market even as it pitted against the very popular Toyota Hilux. 

2002: Engine updates and minor facelifts

Just before its replacement, the second-generation Holden Rodeo was updated. It now sported a non-rectangular grille and new indicator lenses. It was also fitted with a new engine with the following specs:

3rd Generation: RA Series (2003-2008)

2003: All-new Holden Rodeo

In 2003, an all-new Holden Rodeo was released. It was a rebranded first-generation Isuzu D-Max (RA series), which was jointly produced by General Motors and Isuzu Motors from 2002 through 2012 using the GMT 355 platform. It was re-badged under several marques for the different markets around the world, including the following:

Globally, the RA series was released in the following body styles:

In Australia, the Holden Rodeo was offered with the following engines:

For the base trim levels, 14-inch wheels came as standard, but higher trim levels came with 15-inch and 16-inch wheels. 

2008: Holden lost the right to use the “Rodeo” name 

2008 signaled the last of the Holden Rodeo as a car nameplate. Following the split-up between Isuzu and General Motors, Holden (a GM subsidiary) lost the right to use the “Rodeo” name and had to rebrand the Holden Rodeo as Holden Colorado, which was introduced in the same year. The RA series was upgraded to the RC series, which now had a new flag-carrier—the first-generation Holden Colorado. 

Both models (the Rodeo RA series and the Colorado RC series) shared the same underpinnings and differed only in bodywork. 

Summary of powertrains used by the Holden Rodeo

  Year, Engine, Transmission

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