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.
The Ringbrothers always pack power under the hood of their creations, but this 740hp Keith
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!
As much as we love the exterior of a Ringbrothers car, they really wow us on the interior.
That purple dot is a remote-mounted Royal Purple oil filter, one of The Producer’s sponsor
Of course, making the plan and executing it are two totally different things. To actually make the Mustang 2 inches wider per side required so much more than tacking on sheetmetal. Just think about everything behind the panels that needs to be stretched as well, like wheelwells and the inner structure of the door. The hardest part of all? Preventing the nose and tail from looking stretched, especially on the front end, where according to Jim they were careful to avoid creating a wide-mouth effect by focusing on the headlight buckets alone and retaining the original ’65 Mustang grille.
The final effect is fabulous though, and absolutely our favorite widebody treatment we’ve seen on a ’64-66 Mustang. Mike and Jim feel the same, and Jim says he doubts there will ever be another early Mustang built by the Ringbrothers shop that isn’t widened. He’s totally serious about that. Every custom wide piece on The Producer has been captured in molds. Wider doors, quarters, fenders, endcaps, headlight buckets, front and rear valences, hood, bumpers, and trunk lid will all be available in carbon fiber and fiberglass. All you need is a rusty fastback and a little sheetmetal work to widen the rocker panels, and you can squeeze 315 and 345 series tires under the front and rear sheetmetal of your Mustang.
It’s not just us who were blown away by The Producer’s innovative styling. The judges at Goodguys Columbus were mesmerized as well and awarded it with the coveted Street Machine of the Year award amid stiff competition. That’s a great feather in their cap, but Mike and Jim took it a step further when they stepped up to accept our offer to attend first annual PHR Muscle Car of the Year (MCOTY) competition. With Gary’s blessing, the Rings arrived with The Producer set on kill, determined to drive it to the limits of their ability. Now that’s street cred: Build a showstopper that overshadows the trailer queens, then proceed to drive it like the high-performance g-Machine it portends to be. Now that’s our style.
It’s not an overlay; the roof really is made of carbon fiber. If you’re prepared to make t
The Producer was exceptional on all fronts at MCOTY with only a severe traction issue on the dragstrip hurting their final score, but high trap speeds told the tale. It is hard to hook an ultralight carbon-fiber and fiberglass fastback with 740 hp on tap. On the high-speed SCCA-designed autocross course, those wide meats on all four corners kept them near the top of the pack. For a fresh build with no track tuning, The Producer was amazingly effective.
In the end, that’s the reputation the Ringbrothers really want to get out there; they build show winners that aren’t one-trick ponies. In our opinion, The Producer is their best effort so far at a car that really does score high on all fronts. Mike and Jim say, though, this is just the beginning. They’ve got even more radical ideas brewing. So who’s going to step up and make the phone call that unleashes their next creation? Is it you?
“With Gary’s blessing, the Rings arrived with The Producer set on kill, determined to drive it to the limits of their ability.”
“Gary threw the ball in their court for the design aspect; he wanted them to have free absolute reign.”
“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.”
This is probably the angle that’s easiest to spot the extra 4 width inches to the body, es
Curious about the name? The Producer is named after Bauers’ company that supplies equipmen
By The Numbers
Gary Bauers; Waynesburg, PA
Type: Ford Windsor
Displacement: 436 ci
Block: Dart iron
Bore & stroke: 4.17 x 4.00
Rotating assembly: Eagle forged crank and rods with Diamond forged pistons
Cylinder heads: ported Edelbrock Victor Jr.
Camshaft: Crane custom grind
Valvetrain: Crane roller rockers and lifters, T&D shaft rockers
Intake manifold: Edelbrock Victor intake
Induction: 850-cfm Hard-Core Gray Holley HP Ultra carb with custom Ringbrothers air induction
Exhaust: Ringbrothers custom headers and exhaust, Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers
Oiling: Mangus dry-sump oil system
Ignition: Crane HI6 with MSD distributor
Cooling: C&R custom oil cooler with front-mount filter, BeCool radiator, Spal electric fans
Output: 740 hp, 700 lb-ft of torque
Built by: Keith Craft
Transmission: Bowler Performance T56, QuickTime bellhousing, McCleod twin-disc clutch with Hurst shifter
Rearend: Ford 9-inch with 4:10 gears
Front suspension: Art Morrison chassis with tubular control arms, Afco coilovers with 450-lb/in springs
Rear suspension: Art Morrison chassis with Watt’s link, Afco coilovers with 250-lb/in springs
Brakes: 14-inch rotors with Baer 6S 6-piston calipers front and rear, Tilton master cylinder
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 18x10 and 19x12.5 custom Forgeline
Tires: 315/30R18 and 345/30R19 Michelin Pilot Sport