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The Ringbrothers' SPLITR Mustang Gives a Whole New Meaning to 'Restomod'

Ford’s inaugural 1964-1973 Mustang is no stranger to period-correct restorations where the most enthralling details often lie in obscurities like new-old-stock pieces of taillight trim and spot-on seat fabric replication. This is not one of those Mustangs. As it turns out, Wisconsin-based Ringbrothers has got an entirely different perception of what a restoration ought to be.

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Like the 1970 Mustang Dragon that’s got one of the most elaborate suspension makeovers you’ll likely find underneath any pre-fuel-crisis pony car that siblings and Ringbrothers co-owners Mike and Jim Ring pulled off. Or the Camaro Diversion of the same year that the two composed, of which its body was modified beyond anything Chevy had ever thought about and sits on top of a completely custom chassis.

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And then there’s SPLITR — Ringbrothers client Michael Schmalz Jr.’s 1965 Mustang fastback that debuted at the 2015 SEMA Show and gives a whole new meaning to the word “restomod.” Nobody will mistake SPLITR for anything other than a 1965 Mustang, but the changes Ringbrothers made to it were enough to make just about everybody at the annual Las Vegas trade show stop and stare.

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That’s a whole lot of eyeballing, but marching past SPLITR without noticing the obvious — like its BASF paint that Ringbrothers calls Ford Race Red, with its satin clear finish that keeps everything from looking too terribly polished — was a pretty hard thing to do. Or the front bumper that’s been set aside in favor of a more modernized apron with integrated air intakes and the absence of chrome. It’s similar in the rear where the Mustang’s more utilitarian bumper’s been ousted for something that integrates more seamlessly into the body.

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Making SPLITR a reality was every bit as unique for the Ringbrothers as the car itself. When Schmalz, a graphic designer by trade, approached the team with his dream-car renderings, the brothers, who typically devise any other Ringbrothers creation themselves, were hesitant. All of that changed, though, once they saw Schmalz’s drawings.

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Stare at SPLITR long enough, and, all of a sudden, you’re noticing all sorts of details you’d have never thought of doing yourself. Like the fenders that have been trimmed to allow the rocker panels to meet up with the wheel wells in an uninterrupted sort of way — and all sorts of subtleties you’d never realize without going belly-side down on the trade show carpet — like those very rocker panels that extend down another 1.5 inches past what Ford says they should, wrap underneath the body and then meet up with a flat under-tray. It’s not unlike what you’d find on a car built for the race track, where aerodynamics trump aesthetics and not a classic restoration.

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But SPLITR is no classic restoration. Too much of what Ford initially appointed the car with has been overlooked in favor of more contemporary changes to fit that mold. A pair of leather-trimmed Recaros up front, for instance, and HRE rims and Nitto Invo tires outside aptly deliver the ’65 a decade and a half into the current century. The theme continues underneath the hood where a 427-cubic-inch, Ford Racing Windsor engine pairs up with MSD’s Atomic electronic fuel injection system, delivering the fastback from a time when things like carburetors ruled and reverse lights were factory options. Nobody’s advertising any horsepower figures, but with the custom Ringbrothers headers and air box, somewhere north of 500 hp seems plausible.

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The chassis’ underpinnings are just as good, which means SPLITR’s able to turn and stop about as well as the V8 will let it move. For this, Ringbrothers enlisted Detroit Speed Engineering’s AlumaFrame suspension up front that’s made up of a cast-aluminum cradle, coilover shocks and the ability to easily link up with that Windsor mill. Out back is the company’s QUADRALink system, which ditches Ford’s leaf springs for a four-link layout that, like the front, is based off of aluminum JRI coilover shocks. Baer helped sort out the brakes, which employs its 6S Extreme calipers and 14-inch rotors all around. If you haven’t figured it out already, this is no longer 1965’s Ford Mustang.

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As far as restomods go, Mike and Jim Ring know their stuff. A bevy of builds all on par with SPLITR — some of which have gone on to fetch six-figure deals at auction — prove as much. And, like SPLITR, have gone on to redefine what a proper restomod really ought to be.

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1965 Ford Mustang Fastback “SPLITR”

OWNER Michael Schmalz Jr.
BUILDER Ringbrothers
ENGINE Wegner Motorsports 427 C.I. Ford Racing motor; Atomic carburetor; Detroit Speed Engineering rack and pinion; IDIDIT steering column; Royal Purple fluids; Ringbrothers custom header; custom Flowmaster/Hurst/B&M exhaust system; AFCO radiator; SPAL fans; Aeromotive fuel pump, fuel
DRIVETRAIN Tremec T56 6-speed transmission; Detroit Speed 9” Ford rear end; Dynotech driveshaft
SUSPENSION & CHASSIS Detroit Speed Engineering Aluma-Frame front suspension, QUADRALink rear suspension and sway bars; JRI shocks; chassis work by Detroit Speed Engineering
WHEELS & TIRES 18x9”/19x11” HRE C103 wheels; Nitto Invo 265/35R18 (front)/325/30R19 (rear) tires
BRAKES BAER 6S 14” Extreme front/rear brakes
EXTERIOR BASF Glasurit 90 Line Ford Race Red paint; paintwork performed at Global Finishing Solutions/Ringbrothers Performer Booth; Ringbrothers machined taillight lenses
INTERIOR Recaro seats; Classic Instruments gauges; Vintage Air SureFit air conditioning system; Kenwood head unit; JL Audio speakers and amplifier; trunk mounted Optima battery

(Photos:, courtesy of the Ringbrothers)

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