Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Courier

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Until Ford started building Rangers in the early 1980s, their only small pickup was a rebadged Mazda B Series called the Courier. Like so many utilitarian Malaise Era vehicles, Couriers were everywhere… until one day in the early 1990s when just about all of them disappeared. Here’s one of the few that managed to hang on for another couple of decades.

The Courier wasn’t quite as cool as its Mazda-badged rotary-powered REPU sibling, but it was a good real-world value.

The early Courier’s 1.6 liter overhead-cam four was a fairly sophisticated powerplant by the standards of the time, and these trucks were able to compete head-to-head with Datsun and Toyota’s truck offerings. Now, of course, the Couriers are just about all gone. I found this battered example in a Los Angeles junkyard.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 22 comments
  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Nov 04, 2011

    I worked for a guy for a couple of weeks in 1979, who had three of them. In Las Vegas, they didn't rot almost instantly like they did in the land of winter salt, so they were driven into the ground. He had 2 of them still going until 2000 or so, when the last one puked a motor when he started it up one cold (For Vegas) morning. I was shocked to hear what he replaced it with, a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4! Talk about going the other way!

  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Nov 05, 2011

    I remember these around quite a bit back in the day. There IS a well weathered, but mostly straight and appears to be solid old red one still floating around on Capitol Hill as I've seen it parked around my apartment building on the streets every so often. It's from the 70's first gen Courier which ran from 1972-1976. Neighbors we used to lived next door to, had a '79, I think it was Ford Courier that he bought new to replace his orange '73 Ford F-150 that he also got new and drove it for several years and it was white. These, like the Chevy Luv were very numerous back in the day and I still see one every so often, but hardly these days. A couple of years ago, spotted a weird green/yellow (original paint), I think a '72 if I recall right Luv parked on the street in halfway decent shape for its age when I was out photographing my walk and it was that day that I spotted an '87 Sprint 5 door, and a battered '76-80 round headlight Subaru Brat that had been painted in a gaudy blue and white motif and had mus-matched wheels but looked to still run. All three were in the same block/street if I recall right here on Capitol Hill.

  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
  • Lou_BC There's a company in BC that has kits for logging trucks and pickups. They have "turn key" logging trucks too. What they market is similar to what Ram wants to sell. The rig runs on batteries and a generator kicks in when depleted. On the West Coast logging in the mountains they found that the trucks run mostly on regen braking. The generator doesn't kick in much. Going up mountain, the truck is empty.
  • 28-Cars-Later I should start a GiveMeMoney™ and do an EV converted Allanté. There are literally six or seven people who would be thrilled.