This ’74 Ford Courier Delivers on the Details
More than just a custom truck build, this pretty penny became a lifelong pursuit. Right from the jump, the radiant copper color of this truck captures your attention, but it’s when you really start to look at it that you develop a deep appreciation for all the work that has gone into creating this beauty.
At only 16 years old, Neil Stark fell in love with full-size Ford trucks. But as a kid, he couldn’t afford a truck. While reading through Auto Trader magazine, an old Ford Courier caught his eye. In that moment, the Courier became the only truck he wanted from then on. The one in particular from Auto Trader didn’t run so it wasn’t a good option at that time, but his admiration for the truck never faded.
Twenty years later and after raising a family, Neil stumbled on to another ’74 Ford Courier that was headed for the scrapyard. This time he jumped at the opportunity. This Courier, owned by Mike Burdshaw at the time, already had some work done to it but was nearly parted out by the time Neil made his offer. He knew the amount of work that would need to be done but never once let that change his mind.
Over the next few years, Neil took the time to source specific items and collected the parts he needed to make this dream a reality. He had a vision in mind for how he wanted the truck to look and never deviated from that plan. There are a ton of carefully crafted modifications to this Courier; nearly every inch of the truck has been modified. However, there are a few original gems remaining such as the grille, the hood and the 46-year-old headlights.
While on the search for more parts, he came across some OEM rocker panels still in the original factory box on eBay. The guy trying to sell them just so happened to live only an hour away. Talk about meant to be! So, with $500 in his pocket, he drove straight to the guy’s house and bought everything he had. Turns out this eBay guy had several other items that would make a perfect addition to this build. He even had the sought-after aquamarine Japanese nipping glass and various other bits and pieces that he didn’t even realize he needed yet.
After getting all the parts he needed, he called on John Ortiz to help with the metalwork. Expense was of no concern when it came to creating exactly what he had set out in his plan for the look of the truck. The bed alone has over 250 manhours put into it. These aspects of the design were meant to push the envelope. The bedsides are stretched five-eighths inch while the whole truck was shortened 19 inches. That’s quite possibly the most unique aspect of the truck. Additionally, the wheelbase was shortened 2 inches, creating a perfect fit for the 18-inch Raceline Smuggler wheels.
As you can tell, there’s a whole lot more going on with Neil’s truck. Some of those finer details of his vision that he discussed with John included shaved bedrails, tailgate, door handles, rain rails, the gas door, wipers, side marker lights, the back of the cab, sheetmetal on the inner bedsides and wheelwells. Even the dashboard had to be uniquely sculpted. Because this is a body-dropped truck, room still had to be created to fit all the components necessary to remain fully functional. All the way down to the custom two-piece driveshaft, no detail was left untouched.
To complete the 1988 2.3 turbo 4-cycle motor, Neil installed a custom intake that had to be rotated 90 degrees so the inner cooler could remain behind the grille and not create any issues with keeping the stock hood on a body-dropped truck. Additionally, the air cleaner had to be mounted to the inner fender well and a one-of-a-kind alternator bracket had to be crafted. For the one-off underslung custom chassis, installed by Mike Burdshaw and Rob Robinson, Neil was able to install an e-level AccuAir setup complete with stainless steel airlines, Viair compressors and aluminum air tank.
The copper color painted on the truck by Jeff Volker at Volker’s Autobody was a completely custom BASF color. This show-stopping paint job further complements the pretzel-colored bench and interior installed by Trick Labs out of Pennsylvania. Every little detail had been well thought out. The catchy nickname, created by his own daughter, was not only because of the color scheme but also due to the fact that it cost him a pretty penny to bring this dream to reality.
“It was all worth it!” Neil says.
After traveling the country to various other shows with his fellow Severed Ties club members and their trucks, it was finally his time to debut the finished Courier at Camp N Drag 2019. It was definitely the eye-catcher of the weekend, and even took home the well-deserved Best of Show award. Since then, Neil has taken it to a few other shows and received several awards so far, including the Best Engineered from World of Wheels Show in Pittsburg.
’74 Ford Courier
Chassis & Suspension
One-off custom underslung
AccuAir e-Level air-ride
Air Lift Performance bags
Wheels & Tires
Raceline 18-inch Smugglers
1988 Tremec 5 speed
Custom two-piece driveshaft
Wilwood master cylinder
Front and back drum-to-disc conversion
Body & Paint
Metalwork by John Ortiz
Shaved bed rails
Shaved door handles
Shaved rain rails
Shaved gas door, wipers, side marker lights
Custom back of the cab
Sheet metal on the inner bedsides and wheelwells
Paint by Volker’s Autobody
Stock bench seat
Trick Lab’s door panels
Custom crafted dashboard
Custom made shift knob
Special Thanks: Neil would like to express a special thank you to Joe Contenta, Al Improta and Tony Luther for their help throughout the process; to his children, Alaina, Alivia, Gavin and Paige; a big thank you to the Severed Ties club; as well as Marybeth, his mom and Mac.