This article was originally published in the October 2011 issue of Street Machine magazine
THINGS don’t always go according to plan when building a car. Alex Stoner and Jayne Roorda started their modification journey in Arizona with a 1965 Mustang. They ended it with an insanely crafted 1970 Mach-1 from the Ring Brothers’ workshop over 2000kms away in Wisconsin two years later.
“Alex had bought another Mustang that he had at a shop in Arizona,” says renowned car crafter Jim Ring. “He shipped it to us to finish. I took one walk around it and I told him I didn’t want anything to do with it.”
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It couldn’t have been the response Alex and Jayne were looking for, but Jim and Mike Ring offered an alternative option. “I told Alex to sell that car and start over,” Jim says. “We’d bought a really nice 1970 Mach-1 in California a few years before and he agreed to use that car as a base.”
“We actually thought of the Dragon name before we chose the paint colour,” Jayne Roorda says. “Alex is very fond of dragons and medieval themes. He even has a big dragon tattoo on his back”
What the Ring Brothers constructed over the next two years is nothing short of breathtaking, with over 3800 hours invested by Jim, Mike and the team.
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“The fabrication part of the build took up most of the hours that we spent on it, with the paint and body on top,” Jim says. “Everything was done in-house.”
Upon first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the rakish ’Stang was little more than a super smooth restomod, thanks to its subtle BASF Dragon Blood exterior hue and gunmetal Forgeline rims. That’s just the way Jim and Mike like it.
“You know you did a great job when you show a car and people have to ask what you actually did to it,” Jim says. “Our goal is to update these cars and make them almost prototype-ish, but not make them look like something they’re not.”
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There isn’t a single panel on this Mustang that hasn’t been altered in some way. From the custom front end, massaged wheel arches and flush-fitting front screen to the deleted drip rails, modified door angles and carbonfibre tail light caps, there are dozens of custom touches that transform the Mach-1 without leaving it a twisted, disfigured monster.
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“I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that we start out with perfect cars,” Jim says. “But we don’t use much of them. I mean, they get cut out from the top of the cowl to the tail light pan and everything in between goes away. We build all of our own floors, chassis, tunnels, everything.”
Ring Brothers say their cars are built to drive and Dragon is no exception. The car boasts an impressive combination of suspension and power parts that starts with that mouth-watering 560hp 427ci injected Roush V8 that’s mounted to a one-off billet cross member up front.
Under those custom CNC-machined billet plenums you’ll find an eight-throttle intake setup. This feeds a pair of CNC-ported alloy heads which in turn work with a custom Roush hydraulic cam and valvetrain and a tough forged bottom end. An equally tough Tremec TKO ’box and 9in rear put the power to the ground with huge Baer six-piston brakes bringing the car to a stop.
“We try to build usable, functional cars,” Jim says. “I think the industry is moving towards cars that people can actually enjoy instead of just hauling it to a show to sit on a lawn chair and stare at it.”
With that ethos in mind it’s no surprise the Mustang features lightweight forged wheels, big brakes and a suspension setup that includes front coil-overs and a DSE Quadralink rear end.
“It’s probably the most elaborate suspension we’ve put under a Mustang,” Jim says.
Hidden under the custom billet machined intake plenums is an injected 427ci Roush crate engine that makes a prodigious 560hp. Like the rest of the car, there isn’t much of the original Mustang left under the bonnet with the entire bay crafted from steel to fit around the engine and suspension
For all the shiny hardware that powers and underpins the Mustang, it’s inside that Ring Brothers’ recurring design theme speaks the loudest. Look around and take in the classy and understated material choices, but gaze a little longer at the multitude of one-off billet pieces that have been created for the car.
Look at how the openings for the air vents match the shifter surround and the rear speaker holes, or how the inner door grabs match the shifter arm as well as the middle arm rest and the harness anchors behind the head rests. It’s detail like this that helps a car win prestigious awards like the Mothers Shine Award at the 2010 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
“It’s the third time we’ve won it and we definitely don’t take it for granted,” says Mike Ring. “It’s a big deal. It’s the industry telling you that they like it, not just the people at the show.”
Once the car has completed its initial show circuit duties – including a shot at this year’s Goodguys Street Machine Nationals – you can bet the local residents of Phoenix will be seeing Dragon out cruising on a regular basis. But what next for the Ring brothers?
Jim Ring says the team “shot from the hip” when designing many of the Mustang’s custom billet components, including those in the cabin. Check out the aviation-styled dash fascia with Ring Brothers-branded gauges, the rings around the air vents that match the ring around the shifter and rear speakers or the inner door handles that have been crafted to look like the shifter arm, middle arm rest and harness anchors
“We may need to take a break for a while after this car, but we do have a couple on the go,” Mike says. “I don’t think they’ll be off the hook like this one. It often comes down to the owners; you’re only as good as the owners.”
IN THE BUILD:
1. Never content with ordinary off-the-shelf parts, Ring Brothers design and fabricate almost everything themselves, including this insane billet cross member and matching engine mounts. The steering is a Mustang II power rack
2. No fibreglass here! Ring Brothers do everything in steel, including the sharp and angular side skirts that run down each flank. You can also see the modifications they made to the shape of the doors to give the car a more rakish look, adding almost two inches to the bottom edge
3. Jim wasn’t lying when he said they didn’t use much of the original car when constructing Dragon. Here you can see just how little of the donor car remains, with fresh wheel tubs, floor pans and tunnel mounted on top of the new chassis rails. Note the bulges to provide clearance for the exhaust
ALEX STONER AND JAYNE ROORDA
1970 FORD MACH-1 MUSTANG
Colour: Dragon Blood Red and Castle Grey
Type: Roush 427IR 427ci
Inlet: 8-throttle EFI
Heads: 61cc CNC-ported alloy
Crank: 4340 forged steel
Rods: 4340 forged H-beam
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Cam: Custom Roush hydraulic roller
Exhaust: Custom Ring Bros stainless, Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers
Box: Tremec TKO
Diff: 9in, 3.73:1
Brakes: Baer 6-piston calipers, Baer master cylinder
Front suspension: Billet front cross member and control arms, JME coil-overs
Rear suspension: DSE Quadralink
Steering: Ididit column
Rims: Forgeline (f) 18x10in, (r) 19x12in
Rubber: BF Goodrich (r) 335/30/19