If you have an American muscle car and you want to give it a bit of a performance overhaul, there’s only one place that will do it justice: Ring Brothers. This family-owned shop has been in the business since the early 1990s, and the cars they have produced have become cult icons. Each one is unique, takes thousands of hours to build, and uses Motul’s well-proven products. To find out more, we had a chat with co-owners, and brothers, Jim and Mike Ring.
Jim & Mike, how did Ring Brothers come about?
Mike: Yeah, Ring Brothers came about through Jim. Back in about the early 90s he decided to move back to the small town we’re from to raise his family. When he returned, he started a small restoration shop with a buddy of his. I joined in 1994 and we started a collision shop and carrying out everyday maintenance such as oil changes, tyres etc. Jim got a little bored doing that kind of work as we liked creating and building cars for ourselves. Finally, someone asked us to build a car and then people started to like what we did. Today, we build cars for people all over the world.
You’ve built up a big following on Instagram and seem to be really dialled into the culture. What’s the reason for this fame?
Jim: Maybe it’s just the fact people like what we do. We’re not in California, but in a small town in Wisconsin in the mid-west. And it’s kind of unheard of anybody doing anything cool here [laughs].
What kind of cars do you specialise in?
Mike: It’s typically all American muscle cars. We’ve done some really dumb, fun things. For example, a Winnebago 72 RV with a blown, 1000hp LS motor in it that looked like it went through a hurricane. Sometimes you just need to let loose on something. That vehicle has become pretty iconic. We’ve dabbled in just about everything apart from European or Japanese cars. But we’re driven by what the customer asks us to do. If we don’t scare them away in the beginning because of the cost of the build, we’ll do anything. But yes, it would be nice to do an Alfa or another European car.
Are all the cars you build commissions?
Jim: We’ve pretty much had an owner on every vehicle. We’d love to do our own stuff but there’s not enough time to do it. Nor could we afford to do one of our own cars. That’s the truth. The amount of money it takes, Mike and I aren’t able to fund it. Plus, who would get to keep it [laughs]?
You’ve been partnered with Motul a while now. Why did you decide to collaborate and what are some of the benefits?
Mike: It's been a great benefit for us because we, obviously, try to use the best products and the best parts that are available. We learned a long time ago what not to use. Also, a lot of the engines that we build for these cars are like $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 motors, and we only want the best oil you can put in them.
Jim: Watching European motorcycle racing, I was always intrigued by the name Motul, seeing those massive Motul signs but not really knowing a lot about it in America. I knew it had to be a great product. We were lucky enough to work with Michael Jordan and his superbike team when we had it. We saw that product being used there and how much they raved about it. It was just a nice fit then for us to use Motul when we had the opportunity. We're proud of the relationship. We did some badging on our cars as we want people to know that we're associated with Motul. It seems like Motul is really trying to push hard in the United States and we're really starting to see that, so to be in at the ground level, we are really proud that they would think of us. I know our engine builders are really happy with Motul’s products, too.
How many cars have you made and is there one in particular that stands out?
Mike: There’s more than one I’d want in my garage, but for me one car in particular stands out: The Producer. A ’65 Mustang Fastback, widened four inches. It's a really cool car.
Jim: I like The Recoil that we did. I think it was ground-breaking at the time. It’s hard to be different because there’s so many talented people out there. I also like the Charger we had, called Defector, that went to London. It has a 1000hp Hemi. We’ve made a lot of cars, but honestly, we’ve never added it up. That’s a great question and we’re going to count them. We’ve probably made about 30. We’re quite boutiquey. When a car takes up to 10,000 hours, you can’t do too many.
There’s a lot of creativity in your work. What’s your process?
Jim: We’ve evolved a lot from the beginning, and we now involve a designer. We probably spend a bit too long on the design process, but it’s like building a house. You figure it out ahead of time. Now, with drivetrains and other things we know are proven, we use the same thing over and over again. You don’t want to be a guinea pig in this world. It falls back on the builder to make it work. You can’t just try things out to be cool. We tried that in the beginning, and it almost cost us our business. Loyalty and proven products are huge in this business.