Words: KRISTIE REAL
Photos: JASON MOSELEY
For the majority of people, driving a new, stock vehicle out of the dealership is an exhilarating feeling. But for a customizer, it’s the start of something bigger and better. No one knows this feeling better than Christopher Varner of Varnbilt Motorsports. Growing up, his dad ran a few diesel repair businesses and built race cars and race boats on the side. Christopher quickly fell in love with the automotive world and the passion only burned brighter as he got older. “Since I was younger, I was never interested in driving or working on anything that was stock,” he admits. “I always wanted to customize anything I have ever owned.”
Thanks to his interest in custom vehicles, he’s now making a career out of his passon, running a Ford, Lincoln, Hyundai, Nissan and Honda automotive franchise while building vehicles for fun after hours. In addition to all that, he’s one of the founders of the Atlantic City Truck Meet, which is one of the latest truck shows to hit the East Coast.
While some might think being overly involved in automotive culture to that degree would wear one out too soon, it’s actually what drives Christopher and his afterhours projects, including this 2017 Ford F-450. He and his crew designed the truck to be a great all-around daily driver, show vehicle and hauler for transporting other projects across the country.
Because it was going to be a part-time towing rig, Christopher realized that he needed a ride that was known for being a reliable and capable work horse. For him, the Ford dually more than lived up to his expectations. And because he loves black trucks with gold accents, his vision was set and all that was needed were parts and man hours to bring it to life.
With a great relationship with TIS Wheels, Christopher knew right from the start that the dually needed a fresh set of their wheels for a proper stance and paired them with an aggressive looking set of 37×13.50R26 Gladiator tires. To make the exterior pop he opted to go with a Mimaki-designed TIS vehicle wrap. “We’ve been working with them since 2016 when we built our first 2017 F-350 for SEMA and knew this project also needed to roll on their wheels.”
To get the specific look he had in mind, many of the parts had to be built in-house, which made the process somewhat lengthy to get everything just right. The suspension needed a lot of fabrication to get its height optimal for daily driving and hauling performance. The set up he went with was a custom-built 4.5-8.5 Air Ride kit, 4-link rear and 3-link front suspension, complete with KING shocks coated black and anodized gold to match the exterior’s color scheme. Exit 74 Fabrication helped with all the CNC-machined parts, making sure the fitment was on point.
To bolster the performance numbers, the F-450 gets a boost thanks to some PPEI tuning and P1 Race Parts exhaust system. The BAMF LED rock lights add some flair to the rig while lighting the way during night hauls, in addition to its one-off Varnbilt badging on the rear tailgate and the fender emblems.
In the end, all the extra hours needed to fabricate everything paid off when Christopher first laid eyes on the finished project a few weeks after starting. Although not the wildest custom to date for him (or even the most challenging), the Ford came out classy and sleek and is currently servicing him as his daily driver in addition to being his tow pig for the upcoming show season.
2017 FORD F-450 PLATINUM
• 26” TIS Forged F51 wheels
• 37×13.50R26 Gladiator tires
• OEM F-450 brakes powder coated gold
• PPEI Tuning
• P1 Race Parts exhaust kit
• Custom-built 4.5-8.5 Air Ride kit
• 4-link rear and 3-link front suspension
• KING shocks coated black with anodized gold
• Billet heim sway end links
• Wicked Trucks drag links
• Chrome color-matched black
• MIMAKI/ TIS-designed vehicle wrap
• BAMF LED rock lights
• Main Event tailgate Varnbilt badge
• Main Event fender emblems
• Hornblaster Spare Tire Kit with 7 gallons of onboard air
• Accuair air management