1 Nov 1981
By CHRIS HARRIS
HOLDEN’S Jackaroo sprang from the 1981 Isuzu Rodeo Trooper/Bighorn, a 4WD wagon competitor to the likes of the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser.
As the Rodeo name reveals, the KB light truck served as a base for the Jackaroo, with a tough separate chassis construction and high and low-range 4WD underneath.
However the design was very contemporary for a 4WD, with a two-door five-seater station wagon body sporting very obvious visual links to the Range Rover of the day.
Two four-cylinder engines were introduced – a 65kW/140Nm 2.0-litre OHC unit (basically an enlarged 1.6 found in the ’75-’85 Holden Gemini) as well as a 45kW/130Nm 2.2-litre Isuzu diesel. Both used a four-speed manual gearbox.
The original Jackaroo was no model SUV, with a rough ride, noisy and slow engines, poor on-road dynamics and a very limited range from a 50-litre fuel tank.
However Isuzu and Holden worked diligently to improve the breed.
In July ’84 the Jackaroo LS arrived, sporting more equipment, many trim changes and a more powerful diesel engine – a 55kW/170Nm turbo-charged version of the old 2.2 OHV unit.
A year later – in July ’85 – a facelift brought the long-awaited four-door wagon versions, which ran alongside the two-door wagons up until the second-generation L2 models arrived in 1992.
Also present was a larger petrol engine, an 81kW/184Nm 2.3-litre four-cylinder unit with a five-speed manual gearbox.
Another facelift (L1) during April ’87 brought oblong headlights, while an 88kW/195Nm 2.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine replaced the 2.2 from July ’88. A four-speed automatic gearbox became an option with this powerplant.
Likewise, at the same time, a 74kW/225Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel usurped the ancient 2.3 unit.