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Mazda began selling cars in North America in 1971 with the RX-2 (first generation 626) and RX-3, powered by rotary engines. In 1973, the RX2 became the first Mazda to win a professional race in the United States, marking the beginning of a long and storied racing history worldwide.

Mazda’s preference for rotary engines led to the development of the REPU – the rotary engine pickup truck – which was sold exclusively in North America from 1974 to 1977. Like the Ford Courier, the REPU was based on the second generation Mada B-series. It sold well in its first year, but Mazda stopped production after just four years due to the energy crisis.

Mazda’s growing financial difficulties during the oil crisis led Ford to increase its stake in the Japanese automaker to 33.4% in the mid-1990s. However, the economic crisis of 2007 prompted Ford to sell its 20% stake in Mazda. By 2015, Ford sold all of its remaining shares to Mazda, marking the end of a decades-long partnership between the two automakers.

As for the Ford Courier, North American sales ended in 1982, before the first-generation Ranger appeared for the 1983 model year. The Ranger’s light-truck architecture was the backbone of other iconic Ford vehicles such as the Bronco II, Explorer, and Aerostar van. Ironically, Mazda sold rebadged variants of the Ranger pickup and marketed them as new B-Series midsize trucks from the early ’90s through 2009.

(Featured image by Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 3.0)

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