CC Capsule: Ford Courier – A Survivor of the The Lesser Pickup Epoch

The whole mini-pickup boom is quickly becoming another historical era, like the Great Brougham Epoch. Pickups are of course more in than ever, but even the descendants of the mini pickups are now mighty big. So what shall we call the times when trucks like this Mazda-built Ford Courier were so rampant? The Lessor Pickup Epoch?

Eugene is something of a living zoo for otherwise near-extinct automotive species. Not just one, but two of these lessor pickups back to back. And there’s gobs of genuine old lesser Toyota pickups to be seen. Admittedly, that’s not the case with the Courier, which is why I shot it. They are endangered, and need to be listed and protected.

You might as well be looking at the automotive interior equivalent of the Permian Age here compared to a modern pickup. A bench seat and a stick shift? And almost nothing else, except for that very utilitarian Mazda steering wheel. Which actually steered the wheels directly and mechanically, if you can believe it.

The earlier Couriers (above, and written up in a full CC here) used Mazda’s old SOHC four, in 1.8 form, that dated back to the original Luce of 1966. The gen2 Courier, which arrived in 1977, got a 2.0L version. But closer to the end of the Courier’s life, the “Pinto” 2.3 four replaced it. How did they do that? Ship the engines from Lima, OH to Japan, to be installed and then be shipped back to the US, where it also got its bed, in order to avoid the chicken tax?  Sounds complicated for such a simple little truck.

Here’s the business end. And yes, these trucks were made for hauling, and not just the skis or climbing gear. The tailgate of this one makes that pretty obvious; it didn’t get this way from “tailgating” at the Oregon Ducks football games. It looks like a smaller version of my old Ford.

Folks in Eugene, like yours truly, still believe in using old pickups this way. What will they do 20 or 30 years from now? Keep the old ones running forever, like I’m doing? Or import used little work trucks from China?

Who knows? While we ponder that, here’s the side of the building the Courier was sitting in front of. It’s actually the back side of a combination vintage Mercedes (think diesel, not SL’s) shop and living space for the proprietor and his family, up there in the back.

I took a shot of the storage lot on the other side some years back, during the peak of the Great Biodiesel Epoch, another era consigned to history. What will be next? The Great Sedan Extinction?