The Ring brothers [Ringbrothers, E4829 U.S. Hwy. 14, Spring Green, WI 53588; (608)588-7399; www.ring brothers.com] have done it again, building a restomod that's making waves in the hobby. The Mustang's name is Reactor, as in nuclear. You've probably seen pictures floating on the Internet-this new build is so hot. In fact, Scott Killeen has already photographed a build book with step-by-step pictures. In our opinion, Reactor is the best and brightest of the Ring brothers' four Mustang builds to date.
Doug Hoppe, a street-rod and street-machine enthusiast (he owns '35 and '37 Ford three-window coupes, among others) from Sioux Center, Iowa, followed the restomod Mustangs the Ring brothers were building. He goes to Columbus, Ohio, every year for the Goodguys event that crowns the Street Machine of the Year. In 2005, when Jim and Mike Ring came out with Kona, their outrageous '67 fastback, Doug stepped up to the plate with a big bat in the big leagues. "I went up to them and said, 'That's enough. What do we have to do to start building a car?'" That same day, he wrote a check to them to hunt down a '67 fastback and start the build. Doug's goal was to win the Street Machine of the Year at Columbus.
But what would the theme be? They toyed with the idea of a Mustang that "looks like it's been almost through the ringer." They would steer away from bling and move toward a road-raced, used-and-abused look "yet is brand-new."
That's a tall order for any build. Those of us familiar with the Ring brothers know their restomods are a notch or two above what we've ever seen in the hobby. Their style is OEM, as in "original-equipment manufacturer."
Jim Ring explains, "We want people to look at our cars and scratch their heads wondering if they were built by the factory." In the past, Jim (who is the fabricator, with Mike being the finisher) basically built one-off prototype parts without the benefit of drawings. He visualized and cobbled out the part in one step. Bad parts went in the scrap heap behind the shop.
In starting the project, Doug says, "We hired a guy named Sean Smith. He's an artist."
Mike explains, "We met [Sean] at SEMA. He worked as a designer for Honda for a while. He helped us look at what we were going to build before we built it."
Moving further into a factory-development mode meant claying up a design. Of course, with a restomod, the idea is to keep the classic look. Reactor would still follow this style. The project began with a conceptual drawing.
"We tried to be innovative," Sean says, "and keep the same shape of the fastback to make it kind of have that Euro look, what you'd find in a [Porsche] 911 or high-end sports car. Most guys who take a Mustang to build into a custom car shave it. They make it like a street rod. They put big billet wheels on it."
The Ring brothers gave the I-forged wheels more of an OEM look with personalized Reactor center caps. They're a three-piece design, similar to what you might see on a sports car.