Small pickups sold pretty well in the United States during the Malaise Era, and Ford and GM cashed in by importing and rebadging Mazda and Isuzu trucks, respectively. Chrysler, late to the party, turned to longtime partner Mitsubishi and began bringing in first-generation Forte pickups, starting in the 1979 model year.
Here’s a Dodge-badged version I found last week in a Denver self-service yard.
Midsize pickup truck sales shot up 29 percent in the United States in July 2016, enough to drive the sub-sector’s share of the overall pickup category up three points to 17 percent.
Indeed, without the gains produced by the midsize truck sector, overall U.S. pickup truck volume would have flatlined in July on declining sales of the two top-selling truck lines, Ford’s F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado. Moreover, without the midsize truck sector’s additional 8,973 July sales, total U.S. new vehicle sales volume would have risen by less than one-tenth of one percent.
Instead, because of a dramatic increase in sales of the second-generation Honda Ridgeline in its first month of availability, another huge uptick in Nissan Frontier sales, and continued growth from GM’s Colorado/Canyon duo, pickup truck sales grew four percent and the American auto industry reported nearly 10,000 extra sales in July 2016, year-over-year.
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon combined to own 31.8% of the small/midsize U.S. pickup truck market in January 2015, up from near nonexistence one year ago.
This meant the class-leading Toyota Tacoma saw its market share plunge by more than 17 percentage points.
Yet Tacoma sales increased in January, rising 1567 units, or 16%, to 11,409 units, 3262 more than the Colorado and Canyon managed.
Since the new GM trucks became readily available in November, and in the lead-up to the debut of a refreshed 2016 Tacoma, sales of Toyota’s sub-Tundra truck have jumped 10%.
After the ’79 Chevy LUV Junkyard Find we saw yesterday, it seems appropriate to follow up with another Malaise Era Japanese small pickup with Detroit badging. I found this Ford-badged Mazda B1800 just a couple of rows away from the LUV. It’s three years older and much rougher than the Chevy (Isuzu).
The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with Fiat’s Strada dominating the segment. Since that time, nearly every challenger has been vanquished by the Strada’s unquestionable longevity – except for Volkswagen’s Saveiro.
I’ve been seeing quite a few junked Datsun pickups in recent years, and most of them have featured the King Cab option. To those of you accustomed to 21st-century pickups with four doors and luxurious back seats, the few additional cubic centimeters of the Datsun 720’s King Cab must seem a cruel joke.
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