This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue.
Courtney Craven fixes things; it’s what she’s good at. She’s done a lot of the work on her own vehicles, prompting her uncle to hire her to work in a different kind of shop. For the past 10 years Courtney has been repairing professional digital cameras at her uncle’s camera shop. On top of that, she spends a lot of her free time renovating the house she bought in 2016. If something needs fixing, chances are good Courtney can do it. Her latest project is a 2008, F350 6.4L Super Duty that’s coming along quite nicely.
Courtney’s father is an engineer who, like Courtney, takes on projects and repairs. He would take his kids to car shows and auctions, giving them a taste for the life he loves.
“I have him to thank him for a lot of my knowledge and for introducing me to the car world,” Courtney says. “He never treated me any differently than my brothers, which allowed me to gain the confidence to do whatever I wanted to do.”
When Courtney and her brothers turned 16, their dad would help them work on their first car. Her brothers lacked interest in garage time and chose to pay a shop to do repairs. Courtney chose hours in the garage with her dad, learning to work on her 1993 Lexus ES300 through it all, even if all she would do was hold the flashlight.
She would eventually own a Ford F150, but had her eyes on more.
“I quickly realized if I am going to spend the money on a suspension I want it to be on a bigger, better, stronger and more capable truck,” Courtney shares, “which ended up being my F350.”
The F350 is a complete driveway build having never seen a shop. Besides welding, which Courtney hasn’t learned yet (but let’s be honest, she probably will soon), she does it all herself.
“My favorite modification would have to be the power steps,” says Courtney. “I’m only 5 feet, 4 inches tall, so without them getting in would be a chore. I’m impressed with the quality of AMP Research steps and the LED lights on them have definitely come in handy as well. I also love how they are tucked up underneath and not noticeable until a door is opened.”
Courtney installed a 10-inch 4-link Fabtech suspension lift with Dirt Logic shocks and equipped her diesel with Patriot M/T LT40/15.5R-20 tires and XD136 Panzer wheels. A 4-inch exhaust pipe exits in front of a rear tire and the truck comes equipped with a Sinister intercooler pipe, TruXedo tonneau cover, NFab front bumper and she went with Recon for her headlights, taillights and bedrail lights.
All the upgrades are credited to the work of her own hands, including her custom rear bumper and back rack.
“I enjoy how obnoxiously large I have built it,” Courtney explains. “It certainly does not fit in but the way I see vehicles is, if I am going to be in them everyday and some days for long periods of time, I am going to enjoy it.”
Going forward, Courtney wants to install some FiberwerX Fenders in the front in search of added space in the wheel well. And because they look awesome too, of course.
If you’re one of Courtney’s 389K followers on TikTok (@cravencourtney), you know she is proud of three things: her projects, her dogs and being openly gay.
Dakota is her 8-year-old German Shepard and Mace is her 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, and while dogs are just pets to some people, to Courtney they’re family.
“My dogs are my entire world, my best friends,” she says. “They enjoy cruises in all of my vehicles which makes the dog hair and slobbery windows worth it. They had an influence on what truck to purchase because I needed one with a full cab, easy-to-clean leather seats, and of course air conditioning.”
She posts TikTok videos of her dogs wearing rainbow pride flags on their backs, showing off the colors that mean so much to her.
It’s important to Courtney that she share this part of herself with others. She has an accepting family, but understands there are many people not so accepting, which is why she uses social media to show her success as a gay person in case there are LGBTQ+ youth or adults watching that need support. She doesn’t want any youth to feel alone while struggling with their sexuality and wants adults to feel comfortable coming out later in life.
“I get a lot of messages from parents of gay children that thank me for being my authentic self and consider me a good role model for their children,” says Courtney. “Women's rights and LGBTQ+ rights are also important to me because as a strong, handy, independent, do-it-yourself kind of woman, I don't quite fit into the patriarchal society we live in today and it’s important to me that other women know we have more value than bearing children and being a wife.”
Courtney is grateful her father didn’t treat her any differently than her brothers. She sees that happen to women frequently when they try to learn and get involved in the automotive industry, but just like Courtney’s guy friends who have helped her learn, Courtney enjoys doing the same for other women.
It’s all about respect to Courtney, and in her own words, “I don't surround myself with anyone who doesn’t respect me for who I am.”