Nicest One Left? 1974 Ford Courier

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Coming in a couple of feet shorter than an F-series pickup in the Ford lineup for 1974, this 1974 Ford Courier is one amazing time capsule. It was Ford’s first compact pickup back when Japanese imports were starting to cut into the Big Three’s profits and captive import trucks were becoming popular. This rebadged Mazda B-Series truck looks like it has been sitting in someone’s living room for the last five decades. Thanks to T.J. for the tip!

I think I could have left out the question mark in the title, as I do not doubt that this is the nicest 1974 Ford Courier left on the planet. Not to mention that this truck is all original and unrestored (isn’t that the same thing?) and traveled just 69,000 miles since it was bought at Hollywood Ford in Los Angeles. Isn’t this thing cute? It’s like a little puppy dog. Can you call a truck cute? I guess I just did.

We’ve gone over it a million times, that not every person who wants a pickup needs a heavy-duty full-sized truck to haul what they need to haul. Not all of us pull 10,000-pound trailers, not all of us need one with a full-sized bed to haul concrete blocks or mounds of gravel or any of that. For those who do need them, that’s great, but it seems weird to me that some full-sized pickup owners are negative towards small pickups and their owners. It literally makes no sense at all if you think about it, they’re just smaller trucks for people who don’t need a bigger truck, how is that a bad thing?

Enough of the sermon. And for the record, I love full-sized pickups, I just don’t personally need one, but a small truck like this first-generation Courier would come in very handy. The first-gen trucks were made from 1972 to 1976 and were based on the Mazda B-Series truck. The body on this example looks like new and the interior is a close second, also looking almost flawless. The bed looks flawless (although, they do say that it’s been touched up) and other than some light surface rust underneath, I don’t see one flaw in this truck.

The clean engine is Mazda’s 1.8-liter OHC inline-four with 74 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque. As expected, the seller says this one runs and drives like a new truck and I believe it, and I want it. Maybe not at their asking price of $19,800, but it’s probably worth that much at an auction. For the record, the original price of $3,000 is about $19,000 today, so there’s that. They have it posted here on craigslist in San Diego, and here is the original listing. Have any of you owned a Ford Courier or similar small pickup?

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  1. JDC

    OMG, I love this!!! Why can’t they make trucks like this again instead of those ridiculous thing they call pickup trucks nowadays??!!

    Like 29
    • Rusty Frames

      They’d still have an MSRP of $30,000. You can thank Uncle Sam for most of that. DOT, EPA, CAFE, etc, etc.

      Like 19
    • Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

      Yep totally agree, we had this style prior to the demise of Ford (Aus) and Holden (GM-H), (both available with only a 6 or an 8), and the smallest ute is now a ranger.

      Like 6
    • Bill D

      The US EPA’s “footprint rule” created a perverse incentive for large trucks over small ones.

      Like 4
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Nice write-up Scotty. I don’t necessarily want this, but it is a very cool find. When I think of them, I visualize rusted-out hulks. So finding one this nice, wonder what is the back story.

    The runaway success of the new Ford Maverick pickup shows there is a market for smaller, less-expensive trucks. But meanwhile, full-sized trucks are the biggest market segment because, well, people like full-size trucks and thus buy lots and lots of them.

    Like 15
    • OtterdogMember

      Yeah, but with 4 doors and a teeny bed the new Mav is more of a car with an open trunk than it is pickup. Someone please bring back a true small pickup with 2 doors and a decent sized bed.

      Like 20
      • chuck

        Agree…. would have bought the Maverick in a 2 door full length bed version for a daily driver, but it doesn’t exist. Gave up and bought a used F150.. 2 door 8 foot bed. .. but rarely drive it because it is cumbersome.

        Like 5
      • Nelson C

        I agree that there is possibly a market for a small 2-door pickup with a 6′-7′ box, but how much? Maverick and Gladiator seem ideal for this. Problem is how much would it cost? The Maverick’s success was as much to due to the marketplace responding to a $20,000 vehicle as it was to having a sensibility sized truck.

        Like 6
  3. Charles Atlas

    This p/up will be a perfect addition to my White ’86 Ford Escort 4 speed.

    Like 14
    • nlpnt

      More specifics please – what color interior and which body style?

      Like 3
      • Charles Atlas

        Gray interior, hatchback.

        Like 10
      • BillCinMA

        And again we are not given what transmission!

        Like 2
  4. Troy

    Nice I would drive it, but I’m not willing to pay that much for it. Maybe $6k but that would be a stretch

    Like 8
  5. Steve

    I had one of these back in the day.
    If this one was given to me, I would mount the box on a trailer frame and use it for hauling yard debris.
    Enough said.

    Like 5
    • Spearfish SpearfishMember

      Uh-huh, sure you would, but somehow I don’t see much chance of anyone ‘giving’ you such a nice little rig to be burdened with. So rest easy.

      Like 2
  6. Derek

    I spent a lot of time in the late 80s driving a Mazda B1800. Crackin’ wee thing.

    Four on the tree rather than three on the floor…

    Like 4
    • nlpnt

      Are you in Australia, NZ, UK or Ireland? All manual Japanese trucks (cars for that matter) for the US market from the late ’60s onward had four (5 or 6…) on the floor, they were pretty much done with manual column shifts after 1968 and I’d expect it was the same in all other left-hand-drive markets but I have seen pics of RHD Japanese pickups from the ’80s with upwards of 5 on the tree.

      Like 2
      • Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

        Nope, you yanks had column shifts well after Aus had only floor shifts. Unless it was a 3 seater. I don’t understand why a yank would order a new car with bucket seats, centre console, yet it was a column gear selection????
        If you’re ever read any of my posts, it’s a major bugbear of mine.

        Like 5
      • Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

        Your a one eyed yank.
        A “truck” has 3 axels or more, and a GVM greater than 4500kg, hence the need to have a “Truck licence”. I’ll conside your use of the word pickup, (because your a yank), but in relatity it’s a ute.

        Like 2
  7. Todd Zuercher

    I had a ’74 like this one back in 1990. It wasn’t quite as nice but still in pretty good shape. Dad paid $800 for it. My brother and I drove it back and forth to college (4 hrs one way) for several years and then my Dad sold it when my brother was done with college for $1000 in about 1995, iirc. Pretty reliable little truck – we didn’t spend much on it other than tires and probably a battery. The brakes were terrible – the fronts used dual wheel cylinders that were tough to bleed. Hard to imagine that two guys well over 6′ tall folded ourselves into this little truck and drove it for hours on end on the interstate with that little 1800 cc engine roaring.

    Definitely a much simpler time in my life.

    Like 15
    • Covelo Hot Shot

      I had a very similar experience with a Ford Courier, about the same age and at about the same decade. Very practical, good mechanicals except for the brakes. They weren’t up the standards of the rest of the vehicle. Drums on the front, hard to deal with, slow to stop the truck.

      Like 3
  8. HCMember

    Wow! You just don’t see any Ford couriers like this one, anywhere, and especially in this condition. Maybe the occasional Datsun or two per year, but not this Ford or even Chevy Luvs. I didn’t know Ford rebadged these Mazdas back in the 70s. Anyone would be hard pressed to find another one in this shape again.

    Like 4
  9. Chuck

    Bought one new in 74 that looked just like it. Drove it every other weekend from Roseville, Ca. to Fresno and back . Gas had just gone over $1.00 a gallon. A little Small for 2 adults and a 3 year old but O Well. I did take the bed off and add a 2nd gas tank then put the bed back on. It was a great little truck.

    Like 7
  10. Doug

    This is so cool.Looks like they just drove it from the dealership. I remember when everybody were buying these . Mostly companies using them for work trucks because of the mileage. Then after a year you would cry about how beat up they were and 2 years later had weeds growing up around them.

    Like 2
  11. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Mini-trucks are a big market these days, but the people that buy them are poor stiffs who have no money so there’s little value in them. I bought a 76 LUV pickup a couple years ago to restore and soon learned about the market. I’m not complaining because I didn’t buy the truck to make money, I bought it because I love restoring cars and trucks and I was wanting a mini-truck. I agree the asking price for this one is extremely optimistic, but it is very nice. But what do you do with it? you don’t want to bang it up causing it to lose it’s appeal, but you don’t really want it to be a show truck either. For me I’ll take one that needs some TLC so I can do my thing with it. which is to drive it and not worry about a few dings here and there.

    God Bless America

    Like 4
  12. chrlsful

    love it all (inc bench seat, single walled bed, etc) only the diesel model & an auto w/overdrive) for me (2nd gen had the great Lima x-flow & weber progressive 32/36 also in #1 place for me). Any combo is a winner…

    Like 3
  13. JR Wrightmer

    If Toyota would bring back the SR5 I would buy one in a minute. I had an 86 4×4 and loved it. Put over 100,000 miles on it. Sold when it was getting too expensive to fix it.

    Like 0
    • Bill D

      So basically Marty McFly’s truck from Back To the Future. Would look great parked next to a DeLorean. :)

      Like 0
  14. Michael Tischler

    I bought a used 86’Ranger,4 cyl carb engine, 5-speed no air,pretty much a Mazda,great truck I gave to my brother when I left Jersey in 92′ for AZ.Bought 3 more.A 93′,98′ and a 03′

    Like 2
  15. stillrunners stillrunnersMember

    I’ve got a trailer made out of one of these and love it. Good luck with the sale….

    Like 3
  16. BillCinMA

    I’ve had a 2000, and still have a 97, the 97 came from AZ to my part of the north east. Both have/had the Pinto engine and 5 speed. The 2000 frame, fluid lines, and body dissolved, the 97 I’ve been very careful with, maybe a dozen winter trips. The brake lines have one by one rusted away, and the frame has a continuous 1/4” crust on it. I suspect rust is why few have survived.

    Like 3
  17. RickBraun

    We had 3 trucks of that type. 1974 Mazda B2000. Named it Ole Rusty it was a good truck and run like a rabbit
    1977 Ford Courier 2.3 automatic. Very good truck 20 mpg
    1979 Ford Courier bought it new 2.3 automatic with air Really they all run and drove with little to no problems

    Like 1
  18. HCMember

    Toyota trucks especially smaller 2 wheel drives like this one, started eating American made smaller truck sales from the 70s and onward thru the 90s. The 22R engines and other variations were bulletproof little Toyota trucks, and still very sought after these days. These Ford models just rarely survived.

    Like 2
  19. Bakes

    Dad had one of these as a parts delivery truck at the dealership where he worked. Brought it home a lot and I learned to drive a manual on it. Then worked at a machine shop wher the maintenance chief had one as well, around the same time. Just took the high points off their clutches. Proper useful little trucks.

    Like 0
  20. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    The seller has deleted the listing, I’d love to know what this one sold for.

    Like 0

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