The Ford Courier name has been used on a variety of Ford automobiles since 1952.

First Generation (1952–1960)

This was a sedan delivery based on Ford's full-size station wagon line. Its model code was designated 78A.

From 1952 to 1956 access to the rear storage area was through a unique door hinged on the side. For 1957 and 1958, the rear access door was a combination of the lift gate and tailgate being connected with two connecting struts. This design meant that the rear door back glass had to be divided into three sections, two outer curved portions and a center piece.

In 1959 all Couriers took on the windowed body style very similar to the Tudor Ranch Wagons and their model code was re-designated as 59E. The last year for the passenger car based Courier would be 1960 when it would remain a commercial wagon.

Second Generation (1971–1976)

In the early 1970s, the Ford Courier was transformed into a compact pickup, manufactured by Mazda. This fuel-sipping alternative to the large, V-8 bruisers of the time can be viewed retrospectively as a bold step by Ford into a new direction. The Courier was manufactured by Toyo Kogyo (Mazda),and imported and sold by Ford Motor Company as a response to the unforeseen popularity of the small Toyota and Nissan/Datsun pickups among young buyers in the West. Like the other mini-pickups of the time, it featured a sub-2 liter four cylinder engine, a four speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, an impressive load capability of 1,400 lb (635 kg) considering its size, and a fairly small price tag compared to full size pickups of the time. To circumvent the 25% Chicken tax on light trucks, Couriers (as with Chevrolet LUV's) were imported in "cab chassis" configurations, which included the entire light truck, less the cargo box or truck bed and were only subject to a 4% tariff.Subsequently, a truck bed would be attached to the chassis and the vehicle could be sold as a light truck.

The second generation Ford Courier sold for a little over US$3,000 when introduced—close to the price of an F-100.

The body styling was effectively that of the related Mazda B-series, however its frontal treatment was unique, with a grill designed to emulate the larger Ford F-series, and large single headlights, instead of the B-series' smaller twin units.

When the Courier was introduced it came standard with a 1.8 liter overhead cam engine, which produced 74 hp (55 kW) at 5,070 rpm, and 92 lbf·ft (125 N·m) at 3,500 rpm. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard, and there was also a 3-speed automatic option (the 5-speed manual option came in 1976).

Badging changed a few times in the first-gen series. In 1972, the tailgate read "FORD COURIER" in large raised letters, with a small "COURIER" badge on the front of the hood (from '73 on through '76 the hood badging read "FORD"). In '73 the tailgate read "COURIER" in large letters, with a small "FORD" badge on the upper left. In '74 it read "FORD" in large letters, with a small "COURIER" badge on the lower right. In 1976 the cab was lengthened 3 inches (76 mm), and the grille received added trim.

Third Generation (1977-1985)

Beginning in 1977, Ford gave the Courier a fresh look, moving into the more blocky, angular styling that is so distinct of 80s automotive design. In 1979 the base model engine was increased in size to 2.0 liters (120.1 CID).

The truck was available with front disc brakes, as well as a Ford built 2.3 liter engine option (which was the same as that of the Ford Pinto and Mustang II). The key identifying feature of the Courier from Mazda's B-Series was still the singular headlights, although with park and indicator lights placed inset starting in '78 ('77s still had the turn signal lights in the bumper). In 1979 the base model engine was increased in size to 2.0 liters (120.1 CID). The optional Ford 2.3 L (140 cu in) engine was produced in Brazil. The Courier was never available with a diesel engine in the US. However, the 1980 Mazda B2200 was available with the S2, a Perkins-built 4.135 (4 cylinder, 135 CID) 2.2 liter diesel engine, producing 66 hp (49 kW) at 2,100 rpm. This same diesel engine was available in the 1983 and 1984 Ford Ranger, however it was replaced by the Mitsubishi 4D55T 2.3 liter Turbo Diesel (also used in Mitsubishi's own Mighty Max and the Dodge Ram 50) for the 1985 to 1987 Ford Rangers.

The Courier continued to be sold in North America until the model year 1982, in which year power steering was added. For 1983, Ford of North America introduced its own Ford Ranger to fill its compact truck segment, which replaced the Courier in the U.S. and Canadian markets. However, in other markets (such as Australia), this generation of Courier continued on until the 1985 calendar year when the next generation was introduced. Australian models received a facelift around 1982/1983.

Electric variants Between 1979 and 1982 a number of electric Ford Couriers were produced – Jet Industries purchased "vehicle gliders" (Ford Courier bodies minus their engines), and put in a series DC motor and lead acid batteries, to produce the Jet Industries ElectraVan 750. These were sold mainly for service trucks, general to local government departments. They had a top speed around 70 mph (113 km/h), and would go 50 to 60 miles (97 km) on a full charge. A number of these vehicles still exist, usually with upgraded motor control systems and higher voltage battery packs.