The Ringbrothers' "Bailout" '66 Mustang en route to a 14th overall finish at the Optima Ul
Hailing from Spring Green, Wisconsin, two enterprising siblings known simply as Ringbrothers have double-handedly re-tooled the approach to building radically altered street machines from the muscle car era. This effort was constructed to demonstrate show car workmanship with all-out handling prowess.
The biographical info for these brothers contains references like, "affinity for muscle cars and off-the-hook creativity." But as they strive to achieve unparalleled design, execution, and performance, Mike and Jim Ring continue to raise the bar. The ultimate goal is to produce a finely crafted machine, where key elements blend in harmony, but speak softly to the appreciative admirer, as opposed to components that sparkle and shout their presence. One of the first things Jim told us: "We don't exactly follow any rules with the cars we build. I figure, if you like it, fine. But if you don't, that's OK, too."
You probably remember "Afterburner," that graced our September '10 cover. Other projects include back-to-back ('07 and '08) Goodguys Street Machine of the Year winners "Reactor" and "Razor," which by sheer mention alone conjure impressions that are anything but tame.
The BASF Stimulus Blue base/clear finish could be termed "understated" for this project. N
As shown here, Ringbrothers creations exude a muscular road-race style, backed by ample performance attributes to match. That's as it should be, since today's enthusiasts demand brute power to back up the visible modifications and platform enhancements. Nonetheless, most car owners who commission projects like this don't really want to see their cars driven hard in order to prove they're road worthy. That's why Mike and Jim decided to take this project on themselves, with assistance from an admirable list of sponsors.
Following the design stage with renderings by Sean Smith, the challenge of fabricating this cruiser, dubbed "Bailout," commenced. Jim told us: "The donor car was gorgeous, and it really was a shame to cut it up. There wasn't a speck of rust on it and the floor was perfect. Basically, what we used was the main structure, the outer rockers, and the quarter skins. Everything else from the cowl to the taillight pans and everything between the rockers was removed."
Keith Craft Performance Engines supplied a powerful, yet sensible approach to moving this
Starting up front, Keith Craft Performance Engines developed the horsepower combination, using a Dart 351 block stroked to 427 inches. It produces 602 hp with 600 lb-ft of torque, and is protected by Royal Purple lubricants. It was initially started using Royal Purple Break-In oil and later was switched to XRP 5W30. Companion systems, including the transmission, differential, and power steering reservoir, contain Royal Purple's Synchromax, Max Gear, and Max Gear H.P. brands, respectively. Now, while many builders choose electronic fuel injection these days, this capable performer remains true to its old-school roots. Jim commented: "Our feeling is you can't get the same throaty exhaust bark with injection like you can with a carburetor, so it just seemed natural to go that route." As he works the throttle, Jim gets up to speed shifting a six-speed Tremec T56 transmission that came as a complete package from American Powertrain.
To aid balance, the engine is set back 6 inches, which puts the rear edges of the valve covers under the cowl. Jim pointed out some difficulty in using a front-sump oil pan, along with a NASCAR-style Woodward front-mounted steering rack, but one of his jobs is to create solutions so everything works. All along, the primary goal for this Mustang was to make it handle like no tomorrow. In part, that was achieved using highly modified '70 Mustang spindles with the steering arms relocated forward. This was accomplished while keeping the Ackerman principle correct, and optimizing steering geometry while reducing tire scrub and wear. The spindles were also moved up an inch to give the car a more sinister ride height.
Ultimately, it was decided that Bailout would need 7 inches of suspension travel (3.5 up and 3.5 down) in order to realize its amazing handling characteristics. Control arms and VariShock coilovers from the Chassisworks Total Control Products line were relocated, as were the tie-rod ends. Jim added, "We even mini-tubbed the front of the car, so it would turn with the proper camber. Ninety percent of the shock towers were refabricated, but we felt it was very important to retain the OE-style Mustang look by keeping the tower structures in place." Perhaps the most commanding sight underhood is the beefy shock tower braces, which are preloadable and available for purchase at Ringbrothers.com. Aside from that system, tasteful panels conceal the core support, the Be Cool radiator, and the void in front of the engine, which was more pronounced due to the aforementioned setback. Those artful panels were created using various sized flaring punches in a carefully planned pattern with bead-rolled accents.
Since handling won't happen without ample stopping power, Baer Pro Plus brakes with six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors were used all around for precise deceleration. Jim says: "We used a set of comp-style Hawk pads with our Baer brakes because they require less temperature to deliver maximum stopping power. They wear quickly and give off lots of dust, but a harder compound pad would need preheating in order to give the proper bite required when running it in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational and other events this year. In the end, this turned out to be one of the top-handling Mustangs I've ever driven. And I've driven hundreds."
Under the belly of this beast, a complete Flowmaster 3-inch exhaust system with 44-Series mufflers helps the engine breathe. And though it's still a Unibody platform, the top and bottom floorpans are connected with 2x3 rectangular tubing that's been lightened via dimple dies with sections of tubing welded between each side. Jim chose to fabricate a "false bottom" floorpan, which features upper and lower sections on either side of the drive tunnel. Dynamat sound deadening is used extensively to dampen the road noise in the cockpit, while further detailing includes custom panels made with material from Heat Shield Products, which reduces the heat transfer from the powertrain to the car's occupants. Above all, the substructure is a complete rollcage, though very little of it is visible. It's tucked tightly into the A-pillars and roof rails with the only giveaway being the diagonal crossbrace that extends under the backlight. The 'cage ties the entire body structure together while offering a high degree of driver (and passenger) protection.
Another cool twist is evident directly above the rollcage-namely, a carbon-fiber roof panel that was created after making a mold from another donor car. Jim explained, "We pulled the windshield and backlight out, drilled the factory spot welds in the channels, and cut the roof on both sides after measuring to be sure the old and new panel dimensions matched. Then, the roof skin came right off, revealing the frame work." He continued, "The carbon panel sits right in place and is bonded using a substance called Fuser. Then any remaining gaps were filled using gasket material that gives a genuine factory appearance." Additionally, the BASF "Stimulus Blue" Base/Clear paint system on this particular car allows the carbon roof panel and the adjacent painted surfaces to almost blend together. Another car they're building is destined to be orange, which will make the carbon really pop, due to the much stronger contrast from paint to roof panel.
Rear body tricks are numerous, with matching side vents alternating between functional (on the driver side) with a fuel filler inlet leading to the Fuel Safe cell, to nonfunctional on the passenger side. The custom rear valance panel was made longer and a new bumper was also crafted. Jim commented, "There's no way to modify the original parts, so we made new ones. The bumper is tucked tighter to the rear body panel, we redesigned the taillights using Classic LEDs from Northwest Mustang, and we added our machined door handles. Not everything we build is a direct replacement of an original part, but everything we build is available to the public."
To further the quest for superior handling, the rear suspension includes reworked components from Total Control Products, using the sturdy Fab9 rearend housing, VariShock coilovers, and a Watt's link assembly. It offers a wide range of adjustment and suspension tuning. Jim figured a 4.11:1 gear ratio ought to keep the stroker in its powerband and he was right on, adding, "The gear ratio is about perfect for this combination and the rear suspension really makes those giant Forgeline wheels and BFGoodrich tires stick."
When looking at the interior, you'll see that many original elements were retained. The basic dash design was cleaned up after removing the stock padding, with gauges from Classic Instruments that complement the theme, thanks in part to the addition of "Bomber Bezels." A sturdy grab handle on the passenger side lends yet another ingredient of form and function. Jim told us, "With the personality this car took on, we felt it was very important to keep the interior bare bones, or all business. A fancy console wouldn't work, so we kept it utilitarian-two Recaro seats, a shifter, and gauges." In place of the original "floating pedals" that hung from under the dash, a NASCAR-style Tilton pedal assembly extends up from the floor. Jim said, "They look cool, but I was concerned about how they'd feel." He continued adding, "We built a step in the floor just in front of the pedals, which provides a natural angle for the foot and gives your heel more comfort." With a road-race theme that's executed to perfection, Bailout is destined to inspire others to build a machine that handles as well as it looks.
From concept to finished product, everyone at Ringbrothers pulled together to make it all happen on a tight deadline. Jim and Mike Ring give sincere thanks to their product sponsors, along with staff members Staci, Tammy, Lauren, Chad, Sean, and Travis. We can't wait to see what comes out of this shop in the future!
|BY THE NUMBERS
|’68 FORD MUSTANG
|Lonny and Jason Childress
||Ford 368 small-block
||Dart iron block
||Wiseco billet steel crank, Eagle billet steel H-beam connecting rods, Wiseco 11:1 coated pistons
||Air Flow Research 205cc CNC-ported aluminum
||COMP Cams solid roller with 254/260 degrees at .050 and .627-/.627-inch lift
||Jessel Sportsman 1:6 roller rockers, 2.08-/1.60-inch intake/exhaust valves
||Edelbrock Victor intake, Holley HP 850-cfm carburetor
||Ford Powertrain Application headers, 2½-inch dual exhaust with Spintech mufflers
||Roush mechanical fuel pump
||MSD 6AL-2, MSD Pro Billet distributor
||Be Cool direct bolt-in aluminum radiator with dual electric fans
||548 hp at 6,900 rpm and 461 lb-ft at 5,600 rpm
||Roush Competition Crate Engines
||Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual
||Housing from the 9-inch Factory with 4.30:1 gears, Detroit Truetrac differential and 31-spline axleshafts
||Gateway Performance Suspension Street Extreme strut kit, Eibach springs, Koni double-adjustable shocks
||Gateway Performance Suspension three-link kit, Eibach springs, AFCO shocks
||Baer six-piston 13-inch rotors front; six-piston 13-inch rotors rear
|WHEELS & TIRES
||Vintage Wheel Works 17x8, front; 17x9.5, rear
||245/45R17 BFGoodrich KDW, front; 275/40R17 BFGoodrich KDW, rear