Feature Car: Harlan Kemper’s Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

One of our readers, Harlan Kemper wrote to us about an awesome little Ford truck that has been in the family for over four decades! My name is Harlan Kemper. My dad bought this truck new in late 1977. It is a 1978 model, and it came with the 2.3 inline-four and an automatic. He used to let me use it just to go to work, but I snuck it out to go cruising all the time, as it was my first vehicle. “I kept doing things to it. It had no carpet from the factory, so I made one for it; I put some cone-style wheel covers on it and the topper. And although the four-banger did not have much power, I found a newly seal-coated parking lot and could get it to burn rubber doing doughnuts. I also tried many other tricks like putting Vaseline on the tires. I would wear out the right-rear tire, then rotate a different one to that corner. My dad was awful angry that those tires were already bald on a new truck with less than 3,000 miles on it! “When he drove it and used it as a truck, I would freak out -- that was my show truck! I did not want the bed all scratched up! I then went out and ordered a set of Cragar SST wheels on layaway from a place called “10,000 Auto Parts” (which was the name of an old local auto parts store long gone now). I put those wheels on layaway as soon as I spotted them, as I had never seen them on a vehicle before and they were one of few that had the 6-lug pattern available. Of course, I could not get them until I paid for them, and it took me two-plus years to pay the amount in full. When my last payment was getting close, I told the clerk to please order them because I was going to pay them off soon. But he ignored my request, claiming he could get them quick -- which was wrong because after I had paid in full and he placed the order, it took another six months before the order came in! By the time I got them installed on the truck, everyone had them! “One day my mom told my dad that he better buy a different truck because my interest in it made it clear that he was not getting this one back! After only a couple of winters, it started to show some surface rust, even though I had washed the heck out of it and would even walk in the winter whenever I could and call in sick at work on snowy days to avoid driving in in the salt. I eventually took over ownership of the Courier and had it repainted for $1,400 -- which included doing the bed topper. My dad freaked out that I spent that kind of money on a paint job (this was back in 1980). He had actually called the body shop and gave them what-for for that pricing, and they almost kicked me out! “Sad to say my dad is gone now so he never got to see my latest paint job, costing 10 times what that first repaint did, and to see the redone interior (with a custom made Dakota digital VHX dash). Needless to say, there’s no more hauling loads of dirt and gravel in this truck! And now it even has the power to get out of its own way -- by way of a .030 warmed-over 351W V-8 backed by a manual valve-bodied C4 automatic and a Dana rear end. Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

One of our readers, Harlan Kemper wrote to us about an awesome little Ford truck that has been in the family for over four decades!

My name is Harlan Kemper. My dad bought this truck new in late 1977. It is a 1978 model, and it came with the 2.3 inline-four and an automatic. He used to let me use it just to go to work, but I snuck it out to go cruising all the time, as it was my first vehicle.

“I kept doing things to it. It had no carpet from the factory, so I made one for it; I put some cone-style wheel covers on it and the topper. And although the four-banger did not have much power, I found a newly seal-coated parking lot and could get it to burn rubber doing doughnuts. I also tried many other tricks like putting Vaseline on the tires. I would wear out the right-rear tire, then rotate a different one to that corner. My dad was awful angry that those tires were already bald on a new truck with less than 3,000 miles on it!

“When he drove it and used it as a truck, I would freak out -- that was my show truck! I did not want the bed all scratched up! I then went out and ordered a set of Cragar SST wheels on layaway from a place called “10,000 Auto Parts” (which was the name of an old local auto parts store long gone now). I put those wheels on layaway as soon as I spotted them, as I had never seen them on a vehicle before and they were one of few that had the 6-lug pattern available. Of course, I could not get them until I paid for them, and it took me two-plus years to pay the amount in full. When my last payment was getting close, I told the clerk to please order them because I was going to pay them off soon. But he ignored my request, claiming he could get them quick -- which was wrong because after I had paid in full and he placed the order, it took another six months before the order came in! By the time I got them installed on the truck, everyone had them!

“One day my mom told my dad that he better buy a different truck because my interest in it made it clear that he was not getting this one back! After only a couple of winters, it started to show some surface rust, even though I had washed the heck out of it and would even walk in the winter whenever I could and call in sick at work on snowy days to avoid driving in in the salt. I eventually took over ownership of the Courier and had it repainted for $1,400 -- which included doing the bed topper. My dad freaked out that I spent that kind of money on a paint job (this was back in 1980). He had actually called the body shop and gave them what-for for that pricing, and they almost kicked me out!

“Sad to say my dad is gone now so he never got to see my latest paint job, costing 10 times what that first repaint did, and to see the redone interior (with a custom made Dakota digital VHX dash). Needless to say, there’s no more hauling loads of dirt and gravel in this truck! And now it even has the power to get out of its own way -- by way of a .030 warmed-over 351W V-8 backed by a manual valve-bodied C4 automatic and a Dana rear end.
Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

Feature Car: Harlan Kemper's Cobra-Themed V8 Powered 1977 Ford Courier

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