Koy Van­horn Brought the Truck of His Dreams From His Imag­i­na­tion To Re­al­ity

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text: Kyle Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin and Henry Z. Dekuyper

From Dreams to Re­al­ity

Seven­teen-year-old Koy Van­horn from Shel­burn, In­di­ana, grew up with a pic­ture of his dream truck hang­ing above his bed, which is maybe not so dif­fer­ent from a lot of our sto­ries. But this truck was dif­fer­ent. Koy’s fa­ther, Kenny Van­horn, had a black 1979 Ford F-350 Su­per Cab when he met Koy’s mother, but sold it shortly af­ter Koy’s birth. A pic­ture of the Ford hung above the bed, and even­tu­ally be­came the ex­act truck Koy would dream about. When he told his dad about his dream ma­chine, Kenny told him he’d help him get what­ever he wanted for a ve­hi­cle, as long as he worked hard to build his first truck. Since he was 10 years old, Van­horn dreamt of the ’79 Ford above his bed, cus­tomiz­ing every square inch of it in his mind, and as he ap­proached driv­ing age, he and his fa­ther went on the hunt for a 1979 F-350 4x4 Su­per Cab. But once they found it in a junk­yard, the real work be­gan as the Van­horns started their first pro­ject as Van­horn Kus­toms.

From early on, young Van­horn had the goal of en­gine swap­ping his junk­yard find to a Cum­mins power plant in or­der to take his ideal truck up a notch in per­for­mance. The frame needed some work to per­form as the truck’s back­bone, as well as some mod­i­fi­ca­tions to han­dle the new en­gine. But Van­horn and his fa­ther had plenty more planned for the skele­ton of the beast. A Dana 80 rear end and King­pin Dana 60 front end where in­stalled to toughen up the axles for the ter­rain and power the Van­horns had planned for the F-350. Three inches of lift, dual Ran­cho RS5000 shocks up front paired with Ran­cho RS5000S in the rear, and cus­tom trac­tion bars com­bined for a stout all-ter­rain per­former. To complete the per­for­mance and com­pli­ment the rugged look, Mickey Thomp­son Clas­sic II 16x12 wheels and Master­craft Courser CXT LT315/75R16 tires were in­stalled on the clas­sic Ford.

The cab, bed and the rest of the body com­po­nents Van­horn scav­enged for the build were in sur­pris­ingly good shape for junk­yard buys. But to get the ex­te­rior on the right track for the qual­ity build he was aim­ing for, Van­horn turned to his close friend, Bradley Mey­ers, to strip, fin­ish and paint the Ford’s pan­els. Mey­ers bead blasted, POR 15 coated, and primed the steel for a qual­ity paint job in every layer. Van­horn had his friend spray on a two-tone glossy black and Com­pe­ti­tion Or­ange scheme for a head-turn­ing one-off look with homage paid to his dad’s clas­sic ride. But the paint didn’t stop at the body; Van­horn wanted a clean-cut style along every inch, from top to bot­tom. Mey­ers sprayed the black and Com­pe­ti­tion Or­ange pat­tern along the un­der­car­riage and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents for a show qual­ity look. This two-tone styling would carry through the en­gine bay as well as the in­te­rior to come. Keep­ing the ex­te­rior sim­ple, Van­horn added the sub­tle touches of a ’96 Ford chrome rear bumper and a Warn In­dus­tries winch mount front bumper. (So he can add a winch to it later—ed.)

With the F-350’s chas­sis and ex­te­rior dialed in, it was time to turn to the heart of the ma­chine. Van­horn was able to scav­enge out of the same junk­yard an early ’98 Ram with a 5.9-liter, 12-valve Cum­mins en­gine ripe for

the cherry picker. But of course a lit­tle tin­ker­ing was needed be­fore drop­ping the diesel mo­tor into place. With a daily driver in mind, Van­horn didn’t need to be ex­ces­sive, but any dream truck had to have a good mea­sure of get up and go. ARP head studs and 60-lb valve springs were in­stalled, along with port­ing, pol­ish­ing and deck­ing the head. Scheid Diesel Light­ning 5X13 100 horse­power in­jec­tors blast in the fuel supplied by the FASS 220 pump and fil­ter sys­tem and me­chan­i­cal high-pres­sure in­jec­tion pump. Boost­ing the air­flow is a Borg­warner S363 tur­bocharger bolted to a Steed Speed ex­haust man­i­fold. Spent ex­haust gasses are ex­pelled through a four-inch ex­haust sys­tem with a seven-inch axle-dump tip. Along with clean fab­ri­ca­tion and wiring, the black and or­ange paint in the en­gine bay make for an ap­peal­ing cus­tom look.

Van­horn turned to Hais­ley Ma­chine out of Fair­mount, In­di­ana, to get the power from the en­gine down the driv­e­train. The Hais­ley team equipped Van­horn’s NV4500 5-speed trans­mis­sion with their dual-disc Street Twin clutch paired with their fly­wheel. A drive­shaft with large 1410 U-joints was in­stalled to fur­ther bol­ster the driv­e­train. Now the F-350 Su­per Cab was ready for its trans­planted Cum­mins en­gine and its es­ti­mated 500 horse­power and 900 lb-ft of torque.

The truck of his dreams was com­ing to­gether, but Van­horn had a lit­tle tin­ker­ing to do to his in­te­rior. He wanted to keep it clean and sim­ple, still rem­i­nis­cent of the clas­sic ’79 his fa­ther had once driven around. So he stuck with the fac­tory black vinyl but brought the Com­pe­ti­tion Or­ange styling into the cus­tom­ized door in­serts as well as the painted steel dash. Complete with a Cum­mins “C” on the glove com­part­ment, the or­ange ac­cents tie to­gether the two-tone styling through every as­pect of the F-350. Bring­ing the 1979 Ford into the 21st cen­tury with some great sounds is a Sony head unit con­trol­ling 5.5-inch Clarion door speak­ers all the way around and two 12-inch Kicker subs in the rear pow­ered by a Kenwood 1000 amp.

From a ten-year-old’s imag­i­na­tion to a com­pleted show truck, Koy Van­horn and his dad, Kenny, ex­pertly crafted the stuff of dreams. Van­horn still sees the truck in real life and can hardly be­lieve it’s ac­tu­ally his. This fa­ther-son pro­ject not only in­spired the start of Van­horn Kus­toms, but also lead Kenny Van­horn to track down his orig­i­nal 1979 F-350 Su­per Cab and bring it home. With hard work and per­sis­tence, the Van­horns ma­te­ri­al­ized this rig from a kid’s dreams into a rugged, daily-driv­ing, head-turn­ing ma­chine. So, what’s your dream truck? UDBG

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