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Hagerty Employee

8 throwbacks to when compact pickups were truly compact

If today’s “compact” pickups seem like yesterday’s full-size pickups, you’re not crazy. A 2020 Ford Ranger is 210 inches long, and a Toyota Tacoma, nose to tail, is 212; those figures are comparable to a 1979 Ford F-Series regular cab pickup. Even in the ’70s, that seemed like more truck than some people needed. The Japanese pioneered the idea of smaller pickups, mostly because they designed trucks for their home market, where space came at a premium. However, as consumers embraced small cars in 1960s and ’70s, they also embraced small pickups.


Here are 8 throwbacks to an era when compact pickups really were compact.


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103 REPLIES 103
New Driver

Yes, they were fast Gary; the fasted small pickup out there, and maybe the fastest pickup period, irregardless of size. The Mazda pickup was available as both rotary powered and in-line four cylinder ( at the same time ). Mazda just didn’t want to lose sales to folks who wanted a small pickup, but were unsure of rotary technology, so they offered both power plants. Regarding the courier, it was a Mazda of Japan 1/4 ton, but with a Ford only front grill/flitch panel ( to differentiate the two makes at least a bit ). Of course no Ford branded but Mazda built 1/4 tons were rotary; only inline 4 cylinder trucks. This was done because Ford needed a small truck in their lineup but didn’t want to invest too heavily. The Courier would last on the Ford catalog until the Ranger came along in 1981. I had a ‘76 Courier, and although my truck only had the base 4 speed ( revved like crazy at ~ 60 MPH ), it was not a bad truck. Except the standard cab WAS very cramped, being more suitable to the physically smaller Japanese home market. A fun little truck ! Cheers Gary1 !!
Pit Crew

When I was in college in the late 1970s, I had a weekend job at a nearby NAPA store and would often make deliveries in a LUV pickup. It was nothing special, but it was ideally suited for most of the deliveries we needed to make. I'm sure I never carried more than a hundred pound load at a time, so it made no sense to use a full-size pick-up or a van. 


I have had two 1983 Scamps (one remains), one 4-speed and one 5-speed, and they are a lot of fun to drive. Practical, too, with a payload (including passengers) of about 1120 pounds.
Intermediate Driver

the other problem with small trucks is money,few more dollars and you have a full size.