As any chef will tell you, making an award-winning dish starts with having the best ingredients. The same is true for custom cars: if you’re going to build an award winning show vehicle, why not start with the best? That’s exactly what Mike and Jim Ring did with their 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 “Dragon.”
Mike and Jim are the owners of Ringbrothers, a custom car shop from the sleepy little town of Spring Green, Wisconsin (population: 1,648). They’ve built some high-profile cars before, but the Dragon is quickly becoming one of their most popular creations. It was built for an Arizona customer and made its grand debut at SEMA 2010. The car spent the next few years scooping up awards on the show circuit. I caught up with the Dragon at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2013, where it was scheduled to go on the auction block.
A Solid Foundation
When building a car, most shops will focus on things like bolt-ons for the engine and a nice set of wheels. A really good shop will sandblast the car’s frame and coat it with a protective paint. Ringbrothers aren’t like most shops.
Their car (and every other Mustang in the world) has a uni-body design; it does not come with a frame. That didn’t stop the Ring brothers from building one from scratch. That’s right, this car has a custom frame with belly pans running the full length of the car. What an undertaking!
Part of what made the original Mach 1 great was its upgraded suspension components. It had thicker anti-roll bars and heavy duty springs compared to the standard Mustang. In keeping with the Mach 1 tradition, the Dragon has been upgraded with some modern components to give it a great “pro-touring” look.
Up front is a double-wishbone suspension from JME and the rear has a DSE Quadralink. The whole thing rides on a set of custom 18″ Forgeline ZX3R wheels and Baer brakes to bring it all to a screeching halt.
Full Body Massage
If these guys are willing to put that much work into a part of the car you don’t even see, think about how hard they would try on the parts you do see! The car’s exterior has several custom touches which are not obvious at first – and I’m not just talking about your de-facto shaved drip rails or recessed stock bumpers here.
The body line of the doors was changed and the sheet metal was extended 1.5″ at the bottom to make the car look as though it were in motion while it is standing still. On the roof, a center high mount stop lamp was molded in above the rear window. The hood scoop has been replaced by two cutout holes for the custom billet Shaker scoops to poke through. On top of all that, the custom front and rear bumpers are made out of carbon fiber!
The paint is a custom BASF color called “Dragon’s Blood” and the accents are done in “Castle Grey.” True to its Mach 1 heritage, the car retains its matte black hood and pins.
A Dashing Interior
The interior of the car showcases the attention to detail that Ringbrothers are known for. They are no longer hot rod builders – at this point they are mixed media artists working in carbon fiber, aluminum, and leather.
The dashboard of the Dragon was inspired by the 2005 Ford GT. The leather wrapped dash contours around the Classic Instruments gauges and the Alpine stereo. A Vintage Air system offers some passenger comfort. Strapping oneself into the Recaro racing seats with four-point safety harnesses must feel a bit like getting ready to take off in a fighter jet!
Of course, you’ll actually feel the jet-like acceleration when you put your foot down. Under the hood is a Roush Racing 427 IR engine which makes 585 horsepower and 538 foot-pounds of torque. It’s paired with a TKO 5-speed manual transmission for complete driver control.
The neat thing about Ringbrothers is that they don’t just build custom cars for top-dollar clients. Once they design a part, they offer it for sale through their website. You can buy everything you see on this car and build a “Dragon” of your very own! This particular one sold at the auction for a staggering $346,500!
Whether you love it or hate it, this car takes craftsmanship and the art of car building to a new level. What do you think of the Mach 1 Dragon? Share your thoughts with us by posting a comment below.