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