First generation (1972–1980)
Isuzu of Japan introduced the KB20 / 25 series Faster pickup in 1972. The regular wheelbase models were designated "20", while "25" referred to the longer version. Derived from the Isuzu Florian, the Faster shared many components, including doors and the front-end assemblage. It served as a replacement for the Isuzu Wasp, a pickup version of the Bellett which preceded the Florian. Both single and twin headlamp front fascia designs were produced.
In most export markets, Isuzu rebranded the Faster as the "Isuzu KB". However, the Faster was often distributed through General Motors (GM) retail channels and sold under the Chevrolet brand as the "Chevrolet LUV"—LUV being an acronym for light utility vehicle. Bedford, the European commercial vehicle subsidiary of GM also offered the vehicle under the "Bedford KB" name.
The Isuzu Faster used a traditional pickup truck chassis with a ladder frame and a leaf spring live axle rear suspension. At the front, the A-arm suspension used an independent configuration. The 2,600 mm (102.4 in) wheelbase was similar to its competitors, as was the 1,855 mm (73.0 in) cargo bay. Unlike for the preceding Wasp, there was also a long wheelbase version (KB25) which had 2,995 mm (117.9 in) between the axles, which made for a 2,290 mm (90.2 in) bed.
In 1978 a four-wheel drive version became available, with the KB40 chassis code but sold under the "Faster Rodeo" label in Japan. There was also a double cab (on the longer chassis) version. Sales ended in 1980 when the second generation was introduced. The engine used in most markets was a carbureted 1.6-liter (1,584 cc) gasoline SOHC inline-four of 94 PS (69 kW), which was complemented by a 2.0-liter (1,951 cc) diesel four (KBD) which produced 62 PS (46 kW). Top speeds were 145 km/h (90 mph) and 115 km/h (71 mph) for the gasoline and diesel versions respectively.
General Motors-Holden's imported the Faster into Australia from November 1972 under the name "Chevrolet LUV", renaming it "Isuzu KB" in 1977 before it was replaced in December 1980 by the second generation model (now badged "Holden Rodeo"). Holden launched the LUV in Australia with the 1.6-liter inline-four gasoline engine delivering approximately 50 kW (67 hp) of power and 110 N·m (81 lb·ft) of torque. Gaining an early reputation for reliability and durability, these original rear-wheel drive models featured a four-speed manual transmission, short-wheelbase construction, and circa 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) payload capacity.
An update in 1978 expanded the LUV range—now comprising the short-wheelbase KB20 model, the new long-wheelbase KB25 and the four-wheel drive KB40 short-wheelbase. These KB25 and KB40 variants were offered in both cab chassis and utility (pickup) body styles and could be specified with the 1.6-liter gasoline engine or the newly available 2.0-liter inline-four diesel. The diesel produced 45 kW (60 hp) and 113 N·m (83 lb·ft).
Responsibility of sales in North America was delegated to General Motors. Thus, the Isuzu was retailed via Chevrolet dealerships as the "Chevrolet LUV". The only engine was a 1.8-liter (1,817 cc) SOHC inline-four which produced 75 hp (56 kW).
Sales in the United States began in March 1972 as a response to the Datsun and Toyota pickup trucks, as well as Ford's Mazda-built Courier. To circumvent the 25 percent tariff on light trucks (known as the chicken tax), LUVs were imported in cab chassis configuration, which included the entire light truck, less the cargo box or truck bed and were only subject to a 4 percent tariff. Subsequently, a truck bed would be attached to the chassis and the vehicle could be sold as a light truck.
The LUV's exterior was updated slightly for the 1974 model year, but the first major update came in the 1976 model year, when a three-speed automatic transmission option and front disc brakes were added. Power was up to 80 hp (60 kW) for 1977, and sales continued to rise. An exterior refresh and the addition of a 2,285 mm (90.0 in) cargo bay option, with longer 2,995 mm (117.9 in) wheelbase, brought sales up to 71,145 in 1978. The addition of four-wheel drive in 1979 brought the LUV to the attention of Motor Trend magazine, and earned it their second "Truck of the Year" award. Sales peaked at 100,192.