Good work, good reputation, and positive press go far in the hot rodding industry; they’re the key components that can make you or break you, and make your shop a household name or an unknown. It can also land you some incredible opportunities to build award-winning cars that push the boundaries of style and performance. All it takes is getting the right call from a guy ready to think big.

That’s how Mike and Jim Ring, the Ringbrothers, met Gary Bauers. After picking a ’07 Shelby, Gary was looking for a shop to add some custom flair to it. He liked the car and loved the performance, but it was lacking panache. He really didn’t know exactly what he wanted, but he was positive that it needed to be something unique and beyond the typical mods that every late-model Mustang sports. It needed to stay muscular, but also go upscale with styling and interior appointments.

Unsure of where to go, Gary began browsing the Internet, hoping to run across photos of customized Mustangs that struck him, when he ran across the Ringbrothers work. Reactor, Kona, Dragon, Copperback, and Bailout—it was easy to see that these guys knew how to make the most of a Mustang’s lines.

Typically Jim and Mike don’t take on late-model projects very often, as they usually don’t allow them to exercise the creativity they’re know for, but Gary was fully prepared to let them have their way with the GT500, so they accepted. Long story short, Gary shipped the Shelby straight from the dealership to the Ringbrothers shop and Jim and Mike almost completely disassembled the car and rebuilt it as a Ringbrothers-spec GT500. Gary was exceptionally pleased with the results and still enjoys the car to this day. But that was just the warm-up.

Several months down the line, Jim and Mike got another call from Gary. This time he wanted them to build a vintage Mustang for him to the same level as their previous showstoppers that convinced him to call in the first place. Once again though, Gary threw the ball in their court for the design aspect; he wanted them to have free absolute reign. And he was game to push the limits of what had been previously attempted.

Sensing an opportunity to go after a concept they’d been rolling around for a while, Mike and Jim Ring proposed a radical idea: Let’s make it wider. You see, they’d always thought that the early Mustangs looked a bit too thin, so why not widen the whole car by a few inches? Gary loved the idea and told them to go for it. Problem was, Jim and Mike weren’t quite sure exactly how to do it yet.

The knee-jerk reaction is to slice the fastback straight down the middle and add inches to the whole car. But after considering the logistics of doing so, especially when it came to retaining the graceful shape and proportions of the fastback roofline—not to mention the wide custom glass that would be needed and massive amounts of chassis and interior work—the idea was looking less brilliant. On top of that, it would mean that they wouldn’t be able to use the carbon-fiber roof panel that they had already developed for their previous fastback project known as Bailout (PHR, Mar. ’11). So, that idea was scrapped.

The concept, however, was not. There had to be a way to give it the girth they wanted without ruining the style that made the Mustang an instant classic. While staring at it thoughtfully one day, the lightbulb flickered on: The stock body lines might actually hold the key to subtly adding inches. Mike and Jim duct-taped extra quarters, fenders, and doorskins onto the Mustang, but shifted them 2 inches outward, and then spray bombed the whole thing black to get a visual estimate. The effect was exactly what they were looking for; 4 more inches that looked completely natural. And why not? Ford did call early Mustang fastbacks 2+2s after all!