302 Swap: 1975 Ford Courier Pickup

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I still count the Ford Courier pickup among the list of project vehicles I’d like to own someday. The older ones in particular, as the later models started to look far more generic. Generic is not a quality you’d use to describe this 1975 Ford Courier found here on craigslist, however, as it has a surprise under the hood: a 302 Ford V8, built 30 years ago as a hot rod and still kicking ass. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find. 

The best part? It’s just $3,o00. I rarely get tempted by someone else’s projects, but this Courier seems like an outstanding value in the fun-per-dollar category. The seller also notes a recent repaint (which looks pretty sloppy, given the muffler tips are covered), along with new brakes and rear tires.

The fact this wasn’t a recent build makes the Courier swap all the more appealing, as it’s been a compact sleeper for quite some time. The other tweaks are noted in the listing as including an RV cam with Rhodes lifters, headers, dual exhaust, C4 automatic with shift kit, Z-Gate shifter, and an 8″ rear with 2.80 gears. Look at how nicely that 302 drops in!

The Courier swap that got me all hot and bothered previously are the 4WD conversions, complete with Jeep running gear and lifted suspensions (see “Sasquatch”). But this 302-powered example gives me considerable pause, and I have to believe $3K is a bargain if this Courier runs, drives, and stops.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Capriest

    That thing is awesome, and priced right! Might just have to move to Montana and become a dental floss tycoon for this baby. Seeing as my capri has the same hood scoop it makes me realize how tiny these trucks are. It looks massive on the courier comparatively, and my capri is a rather small car.

    Like 16
    • R.S. Hodag

      Nothing like a quote from F.Z. to convince someone to buy an old truck

      Like 0
    • Tony

      When you get to Montana, look up The Muffin Man ,hell take you to the tiny horse broker

      Like 8
      • Beatnik Bedouin

        Don’t forget your zircon-encrusted tweezers…

        V8s-into-minitrucks was a popular swap back in the 1970s.

        Like 5
  2. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    At this price, I am surprised it is not long gone. With a body that looks this clean, pretty much any vintage vehicle should be able to get to $3K. Maybe the Montana market is too small…. But now that it has national exposure, ByeBye!

    Looks like a lot of fun. I do have to laugh at those headers, they are…. interesting.

    As far as the ad goes, I’m thinking that at least one photo of the right side of the truck should have been posted.

    Like 2
  3. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    Man, that’s tempting. Painfully tempting.

    Like 4
  4. JWright

    Tri Y headers were used on a lot of Fords back then. I do not know what advantages they had if any but I remember seeing them often.

    Like 3
    • CS

      Tri-Ys boost midrange at the expense of a little top-end. Really good all-round header, particularly on a low-revving engine.

      Like 2
      • Beatnik Bedouin

        I’d agree with CS. The SOHC ‘Pinto’ engine in the Low Sierra has a Tri-Y header system (the manufacturer apologised for it not being a ‘tuned’ unit – it’s literally a 1970s design), and it breathes well at road speeds/revs, with a little more top end than the original cast-iron exhaust manifold.

        This is basically a stock mill in a street car that now has more useable power across the rev range. I’ve also had the whole exhaust system set up to be quiet and efficient as possible. It’s worked pretty well over the last nine years.

        Like 0
  5. CanuckCarGuy

    Nice little road rocket…personally, the driveline from a Turbo Tbird or SVO would have been my choice for a swap. That said, this would be a fun truck as is, and hard to stay out of trouble with.

    Like 2
  6. John M.

    The ad states that the truck recently got two new rear tires among the items the owner got for it. That indicates to me that the owner could have fried more than one pair when he pegged the throttle of the 302 during his years of owning the truck.

    Like 3
  7. Fred W

    My Dad did this swap sometime in the 80’s. I can vouch for the fact that this beast can burn rubber about as far down the road as you like- even with a stock 302!

    Like 10
    • Edward

      I’m looking to do a 302 ford gt or boss 302 swap in my recently bought 1978 courier which has a ford 4 cyl and a 4 speed on the floor. What motor mounts did you end up using? The rear in my courier looks like it is a 7 3/4″ ring gear. Planning on going with a top loader ford 4 speed or 5 speed. Thanks for any help you can give. Ed/Greenville, NC

      Like 0
  8. Lindsey Johnstone

    I think this is the vehicle I was able to borrow for a week while in Portland. If not this one, one just like it. It was a fun drive and tons of fun at stoplights. One of the highlights of my fill in Manager role at Stuart Radiator Portland.

    Like 2
  9. Bear

    At $3K it is likely that this one won’t be available for very much longer.
    Fun Toy for Fri/Sat night “cruising”, interesting item to bring to Sun AM “Cars & Coffee” gatherings, & it can still be used for light duty weekend shopping trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot!! (y) (y)

    Like 1
  10. Tirefriar

    While I agree with the rest of the gang here that this here is a great bargain, there are some red flags that are popping up after looking at the ad. There is absoulutely no mention of whether its free of body and/or structural rust. Sloppy repaint could be a cheap attempt to cover up (not repair) rust. My old man used to own a Courier that he had painted black, and I don’t recall it being a super sturdy truck, hence I would look at how the rear end is mounted. With that much torque applied to rear member, curious to see what is being done to keep it in place. Most of Chevy Luv trucks and Vegas that had V8 dropped in were also subsectioned in the rear with a reinforced frame.

    The kinked and twisted upper radiator hose is not a positive sign of quality work and could be indicative of the amount of effort that went into a “proper” conversion.

    Maybe this baby can go but can it stop? Sounds like its running stock brakes and given the amount of speed you can pick up with the V8 vs I4, you WILL need all those long uncluttered roads in Montana to come to a stop. The price does make it very tempting and leaves plenty of room to do a proper brake and even suspension upgrade.

    Like 6
    • Steve R

      I think you are right, it’s probably cheap for a reason. My gut says there is probably a lot of ugly under the fresh paint. But, it’s cheap, if someone went in with their eyes open and realistic expectations it might make a good beater.

      Steve R

      Like 1
  11. Troy s

    Weren’t those Try-Y headers designed by or at least used by Shelby on those early GT350’s? Remember seeing those for sale in all kinds of car magazine ads along with the cobra dress up kit.
    I guess the highway gearing is a must have on this tiny truck, can’t imagine this thing having much grip at all. Still pretty neat build for a rod, it’s no sleeper if you know what I mean.

    Like 0
  12. Gaspumpchas

    This truck has a lot going for it. haven’t seen one of these in the Notheast since the 80’s. Ironworms got ’em. Between the rarity of the truck and the swap, this is so tempting. If the work wasn’t up to your standards I’m sure you could do that yourself, and if its a lousy paint job you could bring it up to the level you want. 3k doesn’t buy you much and the only outward sign of any swap are the tailpipes w/ overspray! Good luck to the new owner. someone will have fun with it!!!



    Like 4
  13. KevinLee

    I like how the truck looks,clean without any exterior detractions. Great stance too! As far as the drivetrain goes, it had an “8 rear axle installed, which of course means substantially bigger drum brakes. The upper radiator hose looks swollen, which means it’s time for a new one, easy fix. I think it is well built, just needs a few updates, in other words a fun project for someone.

    Like 2
  14. z28th1s

    Neat little truck. Wish it wasn’t so far away!

    Like 0
  15. Hank

    If you want it, find another one to buy as well. Parts are almost impossible to find these days.

    Like 1
  16. yogi

    how does that v-belt stay on? it is at least 1/2 inch out of line. looks like a shade tree job

    Like 0
  17. Billy1

    It’s already gone. But funny enough here’s a 351 powered Courier in the same neck of the woods: https://greatfalls.craigslist.org/cto/d/great-falls-1976-ford-courier-v8/6762307204.html

    Like 2
  18. Miguel

    I usually like the small hub caps on cars and trucks, but on this one, because they are not the right ones, I don’t like this look.

    Like 0

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