Sunday, October 5, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1974 Mazda B1600 Pickup

I'm on kind of a Japanese truck kick right now, so after the '66 Toyota Stout from Friday let's look at a 1974 Mazda B-Series. No, it's not a REPU (Rotary Engined Pick Up), but it's the next best thing.

Mazda brought the B-Series over to North America in 1972 with the 1.6 liter B1600. Ford's partnership with (and later partial ownership of) Mazda gained them a compact pickup in the form of the Courier, which was based on the B1600. Couriers were little more than a different front fascia and tailgate, and a 1.8 liter engine making 74 horsepower. The Courier handily outsold its Mazda cousins, but the deal helped Mazda get through the 1970s. In 1975 Mazda dropped in the 1.8 liter engine from the Courier and renamed their own truck B1800. This naming trend of 'B' followed by the engine displacement in cubic centimeters, continued into the late 2000s. The last Mazda pickups seen in the U.S. were rebadged 2010 Ford Rangers, a curious reversal. For the rest of the world, there was another B-Series, related to the international version of the Ford Ranger, but unrelated to the American Ranger. The auto industry is sort of like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Vanity projects are fairly rare; if you're going to build a car in any numbers it better have a business case for its existence. Sometimes that means partnerships and sharing of platforms, engines and maybe even other companies' factories.

I was slightly disappointed that this wasn't a REPU, since those are quite rare and unique. But in the United States at least, the Mazda B-Series is much less common than its Ford Courier twin - which might explain why I haven't done a full shoot of a Courier yet. Perhaps someday if I find a first-generation Courier that calls to me, I will.

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