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78 courier the "squirrel"

Wolfe_Man

Don't Label Me!
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
242
Messages
183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
This pickup I built with my buddy out of mostly free crap we had laying around. This is a refereed/smog legal conversion since in Cal it has to be 75 or older to skip smog. The most expensive thing in it is the Ron Frances 2.3 wiring harness. Everything else is pretty much junkyard items. My youngest brother now owns the truck and is his daily driver.


So, lets start.

A friend of our had this old dead 78 courier sitting in his yard we was going to scrap as the factory 2.3 had given up the ghost. Lucky us we had access to a 60k mile 83/84? Thunderbird Turbo Coupe that hadnt been on the road in 30 years. Someone had started to do a clutch swap and never finished then the rodents ate all the wiring. So, this turbo courier was born.

It is a stock turbo 2.3, larger injectors, SAAB inter-cooler, no muffler, straight 2.5" exhaust with a Magnaflow Ca legal high flow cat only, some no name China blow off valve. We put an MSD ignition in it and with some other tweaks (turned the boost from 7 to 20lbs and played with the VAM spring rate). Cooling is Champion cooling radiator for an FJ that with a small backet cut from old radiator fit like it was meant for it. It also has a remote mount oil filter with a large cooler to help the turbo temps when beating on it.


Truck itself is pretty much stock though we did lower it a bit by blocks in the back and cut a coil up front.


How the truck was received

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Checking and resealing the turbo coupe motor

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Stuffed into the courier and figuring out where to mount the VAM/Air intake

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Here is the 1st iteration of the turbo/intake system. This got changed when we added the inter-cooler later but it was a runner now.

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Below you can see where we stuffed the ECU, fuse panel and MSD Coil (actual MSD box is on core support)

IMG_20151025_154748_786.jpg
 

Wolfe_Man

Don't Label Me!
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
242
Messages
183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
There are future plans for this truck as well, Large VAM, LA3 ECU swap, better intake from 85/86 years, some sort of limited slip if we can find one and wider rims/tires. We also have a fresh 20 over 2.3 sitting that we strapped the heads on and a cam swap/roller finger upgrade for more lift.


Below is a pic of "strapped" heads in the new motor if your curious. This will help the cam not break the cam saddles if timing belt breaks or high RPM/valve spring stress.
Some say do it, some say its a waste but for 15 min of work with the motor disassembled why not do it.

IMG_20151121_151829_895.jpg


We decided to rice it out with a large tach and a boost gauge for fun. BTW that dash is from a 74 model we swapped the glass out to have flat glass instead of pointed. Plus we got a 100 MPH speedo instead of the factory 85 one with the swap.

IMG_20151114_161034_313.jpg


We booty fabbed ourselves a throttle adapter to go from old carb to EFI throttle body out of some BMX bike hardware


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We then decided it needed a bedside exit exhaust (this was later changed because it was annoying as when pipe heated up it rubbed the sheet metal)

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Interior is all stock including the 60 year old custom fit seat cover

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Wolfe_Man

Don't Label Me!
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
242
Messages
183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
The truck came with some odd mags that didnt look good on it so we scrounged up some old 14" 6 lug rims from a Datsun with hub caps and beauty rings. Cleaned them up and painted them.

IMG_20160109_155219_937.jpg


How it looks after we dropped it a couple inches front and rear.

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We were on a quest for more power out of the 2.3 but since this is a free/junkyard build we took some mental measurements and went wandering the junkyard.
I seen this inter-cooler on the front of a smashed SAAB and though it would hide behind the grill well so we grabbed a non damaged on and proceeded to make it fit. (zip ties for mockup only)

IMG_20160116_135429_081.jpg


This now forced us to change the turbo/intake setup so the turbo outlet was cut and rewelded (aluminum mig) and some mandrel bent exhaust with some bead rolls were put into service.

IMG_20160117_142748_133.jpg


Some more scrap pile digging

IMG_20160117_142659_402.jpg
 

Wolfe_Man

Don't Label Me!
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
242
Messages
183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
Annnd this is where we ended up with pieces of MDT truck radiator hose for couplings and some paint to make it look less hack. (In below pic we still had factory radiator, as we turned up the boost it couldnt get rid of the heat so swapped it out for an aluminum FJ one from Champion cooling)

IMG_20160117_161212_198.jpg


Here you can see where the MSD box is and how the aluminum radiator fits plus our rednecked inter-cooler piping.

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And that brings us to now. It gets used as a truck, driven everyday and makes a great photo opp with my brother fishing boat in the back when your tweaker neighbors OD and die on their doorstep.

Ben Courier.png


BenFishing.jpg
 

A_G

Semi-Controlled rage
Joined
May 22, 2020
Member Number
1216
Messages
567
Loc
Tahlequah, OK
I like builds like this ...doesnt immediately start with a one off frame in a jig..

Those are cool..but im nott gonna ever be in the position to do that..
 

Wolfe_Man

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Joined
May 19, 2020
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242
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183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
Sweet! Also credit where credit is due to the gentleman with the afro.

My 6'5" "little" brother haha. No clue where his hair came from, not the milkman, maybe the septic pumper guy. He grows a majestic beard if he forgets to trim for a week.


possum.png
 

Wolfe_Man

Don't Label Me!
Joined
May 19, 2020
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242
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183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
I like builds like this ...doesnt immediately start with a one off frame in a jig..

Those are cool..but im nott gonna ever be in the position to do that..

Why's that? If its $$ there is maybe $1500 in the truck and it beats the new mustangs and vettes. It's hilarious how mad they get too.

If its time, well I know that curse as I have a 66 impala wagon I've owned 23 years and only been driving it again a couple years.
 

A_G

Semi-Controlled rage
Joined
May 22, 2020
Member Number
1216
Messages
567
Loc
Tahlequah, OK
Why's that? If its $$ there is maybe $1500 in the truck and it beats the new mustangs and vettes. It's hilarious how mad they get too.

If its time, well I know that curse as I have a 66 impala wagon I've owned 23 years and only been driving it again a couple years.

I like neat cheap projects...
 

speed bump

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Member Number
973
Messages
155
Loc
SW Montana
Pretty cool, been eyeing up a couple couriers recently but haven't came up a vision for one yet.
 

Fishnbeer

The dude abides
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Member Number
1907
Messages
409
Loc
CA
Thats pretty unique. I like it. The shop I worked at when I was in HS had a courier of the same vintage. I had to drop off/pick up stuff from the machine shop, parts stores, etc in it. I liked how it was so compact, but it was slow as snot. With that turbo motor in there, that thing has gotta scoot!
 

Wolfe_Man

Don't Label Me!
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
242
Messages
183
Loc
Apple Valley CA.
Thats pretty unique. I like it. The shop I worked at when I was in HS had a courier of the same vintage. I had to drop off/pick up stuff from the machine shop, parts stores, etc in it. I liked how it was so compact, but it was slow as snot. With that turbo motor in there, that thing has gotta scoot!

It's almost scary fast. Will smoke the tires on the freeway when the boost builds doing 70. It may not have loads of HP by today's standards (I est 300max if lucky) but being in a little light mini truck it fucking scoots. 1st gear is almost useless and when its wet you better pick a different vehicle or drive like you got broken-tender feet lol. He brought up a load of wood in it last weekend (he uses it hard)

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[486]

dispenser of hugs
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
94
Messages
4,286
Loc
pine city MN
way rad, I dig little pickups
sadly they never seem to stay in my life for long
It also has a remote mount oil filter with a large cooler to help the turbo temps when beating on it.
protip; turbo bearings generally do better with thinner (hotter) oil
not that it makes much difference at all, just a future reference 'don't bother next time' type thing
 
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