Words: KRISTIE REAL
Photos: DALE MARTIN
When someone has their mindset on something, there’s little that one can do to stop them from bringing their vision to fruition. Even if it’s a decades-long build, once the idea is set in motion, it’s just a matter of time (and money) until that idea takes center stage at a truck show, in a magazine or on the ‘Gram. Such was the case for Christopher Varner of Varnbilt Motorsports LLC. Ever since he was 16, he wanted to create something from a 1950s Ford, but lack of time and money always pushed back his goal. But the moment he found the opportunity to make his dream come to life, he went for it and fell down the customizing rabbit hole, sparing no expense or mod to make it come out perfect. For him, there was just something special about the classic lines of the 1950s body styles that made his heart pound whenever he saw one on the streets or online. Christened “Project Goldrush,” his old-school build holds an extraordinary place in his heart and is considered at the top of his list for all of his creations.
“My mission was to build a no-budget, completely custom 1951 F-1 that no one has ever seen before, ‘’ he declares. “We wanted only the best of the best for this build. A lot of the parts were made in-house, but when we didn’t fabricate, we used high-quality materials from companies we trust.” While the truck has many meticulous additions, two noteworthy mods that Christopher loves include the bespoke, hand-fabricated sheet metal chassis and the Stage 2 6.0 Powerstroke engine. “Love it or hate it, the combo stands tall,” he exclaims. With about 95% of the work done by him and his crew, Christopher does want to give props to a few guys that really went above and beyond to help him with the truck.
“First is Zak Taylor of Exit74 Fabrication in Lacey, NJ,” he starts. “While he has always been a part of many of our builds in the past, I can not thank him enough for mentoring me over the last six years. Without having him around, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The second person who always comes in at the last minute to make sure we don’t miss any deadlines is my father Brooks Varner. You can usually find him on a 2-week long binge, up for hours on end, making sure we get to our shows! The third person would be Chris Minissale of Overtime restorations (Manahawkin, NJ). When we first talked about the project for body and paint, he jumped in the mix, no questions asked, and for that, we were able to create what you see here today.” Because everything needed to be just right, it took Christopher just under two years to complete his masterpiece. Most of which was due to the pandemic. The parts shortage often halted production, while canceled shows coupled with the emotional stress from the pandemic kept pushing back his original 8-month timeline. But the extra time allowed him to perfect the mods and tweak his initial vision, which he says helped the truck come out better than ever!
With live shows coming back, Christopher was beyond thrilled to show off all his blood, sweat and tears that went into the truck at the 2022 Lone Star Throwdown back in February. Despite its already impeccable looks and a long list of mods, right now, it’s getting prepped for SEMA, where it’ll be shown with a slightly new look, he adds.
GEAR 1951 FORD F-1 PROJECT GOLDRUSH WHEELS/TIRES/BRAKES • 30X16 TIS Forged F47 wheels • 42X16.50R30 FURY tires • Machined TIS floater caps • Wilwood 6-piston Big Brake Kit w/14” rotors • Wilwood proportioning valve ENGINE/TRANS • Stage 2 6.0 Powerstroke • KDD STAGE 2 cam • KDD 6.4 pushrods • KDD lifters and retainers • Warren Diesel 190/30 Injectors • Borg Warner NON VGT S363 • HSP Divider T4 billet pedastool • AFE stainless manifold/up pipes • Varnbilt Motorsports custom-fabricated valve covers • Aeromotive FPR regulated return • Mishimoto aluminum radiator • Mishimoto intercooler • Mishimoto dual pass transmission cooler • Mishimoto intercooler piping • Mishimoto quad electric fans • Mishimoto thermostat • Mishimoto degas bottle • Rudy’s intake • BMRS water lines • Fuel bowl delete • ARP studs • Custom AN Lines • 5R110 transmission • Billet input shaft • 2200 stall converter • SCS billet 12.66 transfer case w/ helical-cut quick change gears • Drivelines Plus off-road drive shafts • AFE 4” exhaust • TSO FAB 4/5” exhaust tip • Warren Diesel stand alone 6.0 engine harness • Warren Diesel stand alone tuning • FLUIDAMPR Crankshaft pulley • FASS fuel lift pump • 20-gallon polished aluminum fuel cell w/ custom Varnbilt cradle • ( 2 ) OPTIMA Red Top batteries w/ battery trays cab mounted SUSPENSION/CHASSIS • Custom-built Varnbilt Motorsports sheet metal chassis/cradle w/ overlays and custom LED backlit cradle • Sheet metal 4-link arms w/ overlasts for Ballistic Fab forged joints • King Custom Shop 3.0 14” travel coilovers (black Cerakoted bodies anodized gold) finned reservoirs • 2006 DANA 60 front differential w/ truss and hydro steering Ballistic Fab differential covers • PSC hydraulic steering • Orbital valve with flow valves • PSC aluminum hydroboost power steering canister • 2006 Sterling 10.5 rear differential triangulated rear truss with Ballistic Fab covers • Custom-finned resi brackets • Custom SCS transfer case cradle • Drivelines PLUS front and rear driveshafts • Varnbilt sway bar kit w/ greasable bushings
SUSPENSION • 1951 Ford F-1 original cab • 4” recessed firewall • Shaved gas door • Custom Goldrush hood trim • Custom Goldrush tailgate • Hidden tailgate latches • Bed-mounted Speed Pole flag poles • Smoothed running boards • AMP Research Power Steps • Varnbilt dimple died filler panels • Raptor Liner bedliner • Smoked OEM glass • RIGID Industries 7” round LED headlights • Custom front bumper w/ dimple died faceplate • Oak wood floor stained Gloss Charcoal w/ recessed gas cap INTERIOR • Baremetal Bombers cowhide bomber seat • Custom-matched TIS wheels steering wheel • Restomod air bantam AC/heat kit • Restomod billet gold vents • Restomod billet gold bulkhead • Memphis Audio subs and 6.5” speakers • Black carpet kit • Custom-laser-cut brake and accelerator pedals • LOKAR tall floor shifter Dakota Digital VHX Series guages power coated Gloss Black • New Time radio kit power coated black • LOKAR billet window crank handles • LOKAR billet door handles • One-Piece glass conversion kit • Midwest Early Ford power window kit w/ OEM crank-style switches
ACCESSORIES • Hornblaster Conductor Special train horns custom-built into fuel cradle • ( 8 ) BAMF LED off-road lighting rock lights in fender • (16) BAMF LED off-road WAP Series built into frame • All Prismatic powder coat Golden Sands/Gloss Black/Wrinkle Black • PPG Hot Rod Black Paint