1973 Ford Courier - McBride's Ride

    Here's Something You Don't See Everyday

    Ken BrubakerPhotographer, Writer

    When we first saw this ’73 Ford Courier in the California desert we had a rush of emotions, including awe and a strange case of envy. We also had questions. We’re used to seeing old iron rigs on the trail, but who in their right mind wheels a vintage Ford Courier? Turns out that would be Nicholas McBride, a field engineer supervisor for Panasonic Avionics.

    For those of you not old enough to remember, the Courier was a Mazda-built pickup truck that was available in the US from 1972 to 1982. It had design cues meant to mimic the Ford F-Series of the time and it came standard with a four-cylinder engine. Interestingly, our research indicates that the Courier wasn’t available in a four-wheel-drive version during its lifetime, though there were some aftermarket companies doing a limited number of conversions.

    McBride’s Courier is not one of those aftermarket conversions. So, how did it become four-wheel drive? Simple. It’s mostly an amalgamation of Ford Courier and Toyota pickup. OK, maybe it’s not that simple. What we have here is a Courier body grafted onto a Toyota chassis with a significant number of modifications thrown in the mix. The bulk of the conversion work was begun in 2008 by a previous owner. McBride is the third owner of the rig, and when he acquired the truck it was not running. “I purchased it in the fall of 2011 and it was in the process of being parted out and did not run. I spent the winter/spring working out bugs and taking it on shakedown runs to get it on the trail,” he says. After many hours spent wrenching, McBride got the truck running and since then it has been over the Rubicon Trail, as well as to Johnson Valley and the Prairie City ORV Park.

    So, how does this unique Courier handle the trail? McBride says, “It has been reliable and hasn’t had any major trail breakdowns! It wheels great.”

    McBride’s Courier is a one-of-a-kind, unusual rig, but make no mistake, it’s more than a conversation piece. After seeing the rig in action on the trail, we have to say that we’re envious of McBride’s ride.

    At A Glance
    Vehicle: 1973 Ford Courier
    Owner: Nicholas McBride
    Stomping grounds: Orangevale, California
    Build time: Ongoing

    Engine: Toyota 22R-E I-4
    Transmission: Marlin L52 5-spd manual
    Transfer case(s): Dual Toyota, Marlin Crawler MC07 adapter, Trail-Gear gears in rear ’case
    Low range ratio(s): 2.38:1, 4.70:1, 7.08:1
    Crawl ratio(s): 49.5:1, 97.7:1, 147:1
    Front axle/differential: ’84 Toyota, Trail-Gear Six Shooter knuckles with ARP studs, Sky’s Offroad Design Wide Axle Kit, Longfield Super Axles axleshafts and inner hub gears, Toyota IFS-model calipers, FJ Cruiser rotors/5.29 gears, ARB Air Locker.
    Rear axle/differential: Late ‘80s Toyota, late ’90s Toyota V-6-application third member, Chevy Monte Carlo disc brakes/5.29 gears, welded spider gears

    Front: 4-in-lift All-Pro Off-Road leaf springs, 14-in-travel Bilstein 5125 shocks
    Rear: 5-in-lift Marlin Crawler leaf springs, 14-in-travel Bilstein 5125 shocks
    Steering: PSC Motorsports pump and reservoir, Derale cooler, Sky’s Offroad Design flat pitman arm, Dave’z Off Road Performance drag link and tie rod, Sky’s Offroad Design high crossover steering arms

    Tires: 38.5x14.50-16.5 LT Interco Super Swamper TSL/SX
    Wheels: 16.5x8.25 Re-centered HMMWV six-lug double beadlock w/rock ring

    Armor: Full rollcage/exocage, rock rails, T-case skidplate
    Cool stuff: Warn M8000 winch, bed-mounted storage