They've never strived to create a unifying style to their projects, but there is no doubt that when given free reign to design, a Ringbrothers car has an easily recognizable feel. From the Reactor Mustang, the first major build that gained them international attention, to the innovative Afterburner Fairlane that graces the cover of this issue, there is a family resemblance. And to a degree, that's intentional. Both Jim and Mike Ring are heavily influenced by European designs, and while most builders strive for a harsher hot rod-style execution to their cars, Ringbrothers has always sought to bring an OEM level of finish to their car. In fact, due to the numerous details such as factory-like warning stickers underhood and the modern-retro style leather-clad interior, some people thought their Razor Camaro project was a GM concept for the yet-to-be-released (at the time) fifth-gen Camaro.

Though they've mostly earned a reputation based on their high-end, deep-pocket builds like Afterburner, Razor, and Kona, Ringbrothers actually handles everything from mild bolt-on builds, to repairs, and paintjobs. Plus, with a bargain shop rate of only $60 an hour, they remain within the reach of everyday rodders, and get to see a true cross section of the trends forming in the hobby. "People used to focus more on building cars specifically for the look, and we've certainly been guilty of that," Jim says. "But I really think the next big thing is people wanting to use their cars. They want to make them fast, but not just in a straight line-driving them around corners is the focus." Even the Ring brothers themselves aren't immune: "We're actually working on our own badass '66 fastback Mustang to take out and pound the crap out of on the track," Jim says.

Hand in hand with that, Ringbrothers has also seen an evolution in customer's expectation of resale value in their projects. Rather than building a car and hiding it away, racking up only a handful of miles in hopes that they will lose little to none of their monetary investment, most people have resigned themselves to the fact that nearly everything depreciates, and have decided to make the most out of it. "You're going to see a lot less 'lawn chair' cars out there at any given show," Jim says. To put it plainly, Ringbrothers is seeing a shift toward the mentality that hot rods aren't really intended to be investments; they're for enjoying.

To that point, Jim and Mike also hear their customers plan on keeping their cars for the foreseeable future, which is why you'll never see overly trendy or outlandish paint schemes or colors on a Ringbrothers car. "People don't want cars they get tired of looking at in a year or two," Jim says. "It needs to be something they always like and feel good about putting their money into."

Beyond the landscape in the next few years, Jim also likes to look decades down the road and ponder the distant future of hot rodding. "I can see alternative power hot rods in the future." He can even foresee builders getting engineering students at colleges involved, such as the students at Ohio State University, working on the cutting-edge Buckeye Bullet hydrogen fuel cell-powered streamliner that set an FIA land speed record of 303.025 mph at Bonneville. That kind of technology might be in a vintage Mustang or Camaro one day, and Ringbrothers would love to build it!