Toyota and Nissan 4×4 pickups from the ’80s are still fairly common here. But a Mazda 2600i 4×4? It’s been a while, so finding this nicely-preserved example was a bit of a refresher course. Like the fact that the hood bulge and “2600i” badge means that it’s from 1988 or later, as the 1986-1987 2600 4×4 used the venerable Mitsubishi G54B 2.6L four as used in so many Chrysler products and of course Mitsubishi itself. Since Mazda’s biggest four at the time was only 2.0L big, they borrowed the Mitsu 2.6 for two years until their own new G6 2.6L four was ready in 1988. Hence the “B2600i” badge and the bulge in the hood.
The new 1986 B series pickup was a welcome improvement over its quite aged predecessor, that was built with some refreshes all the way from 1965 until 1985. It was also sold as the Ford Courier here. A tough little truck, but outdated. And it never came in 4×4 guise.
This new B Series was a big improvement in terms of ride, comfort, handling and all-round likeability.
And performance improved with the new 2.6L four, an engine without any real vices, not surprisingly.
The SE-5 was of course a riff on Toyota’s popular SR-5 series.
I had never noticed the bulge that came along with the new 2.6 engine. Was it really that much taller?
The irony of course was that starting 1994, Mazda could no longer justify the incremental costs of their own pickup for the US, and reverted to badging a Ford Ranger, the inverse of how it all started. For the rest of its markets, this generation was built until 1998, when it was replaced by a new generation that was also sold internationally as the (non-US) Ford Ranger.