Ringbrothers: Modern Muscle Car Royalty
Brothers Jim and Mike Ring grew up with their heads full of exhaust and paint fumes. From a very early age the brothers had a passion for cars and for customizing and modifying their rides. When they were only 10 or 11 years old the two could be found in their parents’ basement, or even in a friend’s chicken coop, doing bodywork and custom paint jobs on whatever cars they could get their hands on.
As they grew older and perfected their craft, Jim and a buddy set up shop in the little town of Spring Green, Wisconsin. They later convinced Mike to join the business, as well. While the brothers are well known across the country for their custom-built cars, the Ringbrothers shop actually serves its local community as a collision repair facility. Ringbrothers is also famous for its extensive line of billet accessories, as well as custom carbon fiber and fiberglass parts that allow builders working from their home garages a wide variety of options.
While the collision repair and aftermarket accessory businesses may be the bread and butter of Ringbrothers, what’s really put the brothers and their company on the map are their custom restored and pro-touring car builds. Over the past decade, the Ring brothers have produced quite a few one-of-a-kind automobiles. They’ve also collected a number of prestigious design awards along the way including General Motors’ “Best Chevrolet of the Show” at the 2014 SEMA show, back to back Goodguys Street Machine of the Year awards, multiple Mothers Shine Awards and more. Ringbrothers cars have graced the covers of multiple magazines and have even had several builds commissioned by OEMs. A couple of Ringbrothers cars are on display in museums, as well.
What’s in a Build?
Typically, when a customer comes to Ringbrothers with a build request all they have is a make, model and a small stipulation or two (the car’s exterior color, for instance). From there, the direction of the build is completely left up to Ringbrothers. The design process is unique to each project and can take as long as a few years to complete. Each car is 100-percent custom from the interior to the body panels to what’s under the hood. For the latter, the Rings often partner with fellow Wisconsin company Wegner Motorsports to provide the most potent power plants available for their cars. When a build is finally finished, it typically goes on display at that year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas before the customer takes final delivery. If you’ve got your heart set on a Ringbrothers car, you had better get in line. Currently the brothers are booked through 2021.
On the Block
Over the years a number of Ringbrothers cars have crossed the block at the famous Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, fetching their owners some serious cash in the process. The Ring’s 1970 Dragon Mustang, for instance, sold for $346,500 in 2013 while the 1969 Razor Camaro brought in $269,500 in 2012. To date, Ringbrothers builds have fetched well over $2 million at Barrett-Jackson.
Three Favorite Builds
With so many accomplishments under their belts, we asked the Ring brothers what their three favorite builds to date have been. So without further adieu, here’s the Ringbrothers top three.
Ringbrothers 1971 De Tomosa Pantera ADRNLN
The original 1970 De Tomosa Pantera featured a combination of Italian design and American engineering, a marriage Ringbrothers sought to rekindle with their remake of this rare classic. Randy Bickle had bought the car and began refurbishing the car himself but was diagnosed with cancer. He stopped working on the car and passed away. Bickle’s widow, Cheryl, then took the car to a shop to be restored, but the car sat untouched for a year. Then, she heard about Ringbrothers and took it to them. When they first saw the car, they saw how bad of shape the body was in and decided a restoration wasn’t feasible. They opted for a custom build and took on the project. The Ring brothers remade virtually every body panel from scratch while subtly modernizing the Pantera’s lines along the way. With the new bodywork, the overall shape was smoothed with sloping rocker panels, higher fender peaks, and wider fender flares. The Pantera was also lowered and finished off with incredible attention to detail.
Under the hood, the brothers blessed the ADRNLN Pantera with some real American muscle in the form of a modern Chevy LS3 V8 built by Wegner Motorsports, replacing the original Cleveland 351. The motor belts out an impressive 600 horsepower with the help of a Holley electronic fuel injection system. A five-speed manual ZF gearbox was sourced from Bowler. Other running gear includes HRE three-piece forged wheels, six-piston Baer brake calipers on all four wheels and all fluids courtesy of Royal Purple.
As impressive as the Pantera’s exterior and mechanicals are, the interior is what truly sets this car apart. Ringbrothers had met members of clothing and shoe giant Nike’s Skunkworks Design Team at the 2012 SEMA show. The Nike team later visited Ringbrothers in Wisconsin and plans for a collaboration were perfected. The result is a unique two-tone interior with an intentional focus on the driver. The interior is crafted from premium leather and even features some materials usually found in Nike footwear, including the backing for the dashboard gauges. As a memento of the collaboration, Nike even made a pair of ADRNLN custom shoes to match the Pantera.
Once the car was complete, Cheryl took it for one final joyride in her late husband’s honor before deciding to give someone else the opportunity to own the unique vehicle. The De Tomosa Pantera became lot number 5072 at the 2015 Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale where the bid climbed to $330,000 before the auctioneer cried “sold.” In the process, it set the record for the highest price ever paid for a Pantera at an auto auction. The winning bid was placed by none other than Richard Rawlings, star of “Fast ‘N Loud” and owner of the Gas Monkey Garage.
In addition to the lofty sale price at Barrett-Jackson, the Ringbrothers Pantera was also featured on the covers of some of the biggest car magazines in the world including Road & Track, Autoweek, Fast Cars (U.K.) and several more. The car is now on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Ringbrothers 1965 Ford Mustang Espionage
One of the most unique and difficult builds the brothers have under their belts is a wide body, all carbon fiber 1965 Ford Mustang dubbed Espionage. Jim and Mike replaced every body panel of the Fastback with ones made from carbon fiber, but they weren’t just content to leave the original design alone. The brothers widened the body two inches on each side and made a variety of subtle changes to the car’s overall shape.
Under the hood of the Espionage is truly something special. A 427 cubic-inch Chevy LS7 V8 force fed by a huge Whipple supercharger from Wegner Motorsports, which provides pavement-churning power. While it may seem sacrilegious to put a Chevy engine in a Ford, the motor’s 959 horsepower and 858 pound-feet of torque are hard to argue with. To channel all that power, Ringbrothers installed a Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission. A bespoke driveshaft and a nine-inch Ford rear end bring the locomotive force to the Mustang’s rear wheels.
With just under a thousand horsepower hurtling the carbon fiber Fastback down the road, powerful brakes were a must. Massive 14-inch discs are squeezed by Baer 6S calipers at all four corners to bring the car down from speed.
“Espionage was a huge undertaking for our little shop,” said Jim Ring of the build. “Over the past few years, it was an incredible challenge, but one that’s also been incredibly rewarding. When Mike and I build a car, we always try to come up with something that nobody’s ever seen before, and I think the work we’ve done on Espionage really qualifies that statement.”
After its debut at SEMA 2015, Espionage traveled across the pond to its new owner in the U.K. The car serves as a daily driver, not just a garage queen, and occasionally makes an appearance on the streets of London, where it inevitably draws a crowd.
Ringbrothers 1966 Chevy Chevelle Recoil
If you walked by the Royal Purple booth at SEMA 2014, you would have seen one of the most unique, powerful and meticulously detailed Chevy Chevelles ever made. This Ringbrothers masterpiece, named Recoil, features a military inspired color scheme to go with its aircraft-grade aluminum and carbon fiber construction. The car was designed with a form-follows-function mentality and is built for the track.
Nowhere is the car’s speed-focused mission more evident than in the engine bay. Here, a muscular 427 cubic-inch Chevy LS7 engine from Wegner Motorsports resides. A Whipple supercharger helps the powerful motor belt out no fewer than 980 horsepower. A Tremec T56 transmission provides six forward gears, and a Ford 35 spline rear end moves power out to the HRE rear wheels where massive 345/30/20 tires do their best to cope with nearly a thousand horses.
On the inside, Recoil features a race-bred, almost spartan interior, which the brothers hand crafted from sheet metal. Five-point racing harnesses keep the driver and passenger secure, and a custom billet housing contains a Racepak gauge cluster that provides all the relevant info.
The Ringbrothers Chevelle remains in the hands of its original owner, who also happens to own a Ringbrothers 1971 Happy Camper Winnebago, as well.