Ringbrothers have been building custom vehicles for decades. Even as kids, brothers Jim and Mike Ring were into just about anything with a motor – even lawnmowers – and, using their self-taught skills, started making a profit by working on cars. They attribute their proficiency in engines, transmissions and bodywork to the “junk” they and their friends were always buying – and “junk” always needs fixing.
Repairing “junk” as teens eventually led to building custom vehicles as a career. Ringbrothers, which is based in Spring Green, Wisconsin, has produced dozens of jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind vehicles for customers. Be it muscle cars, European classics, pickup trucks or even a vintage RV, there is no project too wild for Ringbrothers to tackle.
With such a busy shop, Jim and Mike got the idea to start putting together a shop truck. Something to make supply runs, haul parts and take to events.
“The idea was to have something Jim and I could beat around,” said Mike Ring. “So the decision was made to build something we’d done only once before – a truck. We wanted to do another pickup because it was fun!”
The Rings found an old, rusted-out 1954 Ford F-100 pickup that they named “Clem 101” and got to work. The inspiration for the build came while they were at a Goodguys Rod & Custom Show in Arizona when the brothers realized that the ’56 F-100 was a much cooler truck than the ’54, so they decided to create a hybrid of the 1954 and 1956 with “Clem.”
So, it was “out” with the 1954 cab and “in” with a 1956 cab. Because the original bed was pretty destroyed, a new one was made from scratch; ditto for the running boards. They also retained the original 1954 grille.
Another noteworthy change-up was the wheelbase, which was extended by seven inches with the addition of a Ford Crown Victoria subframe – which had to be narrowed by five inches to fit the truck.
“Since we moved the wheels forward on that truck, we had to remake the fenders to fit where the wheel location was,” said Jim Ring.
The fenders were widened by three inches to make room for 19-inch HRE Vintage wheels wrapped in 305/35/19 Nitto Tires up front and 20-inch wheels with 305/50/20 tires in back.
Jim and Mike Ring’s signature style always includes updating older cars with modern technology.
“We learned a long time ago that OE manufacturers are definitely doing something right,” said Jim Ring. “Cars from the 1970s to now are light years apart in technology surrounding how they drive, handle, start and stop – and there’s a lot of aftermarket options out there when it comes to further upgrading an old vehicle’s suspension.”
Their go-to aftermarket parts for “Clem 101” included a John’s Industries nine-inch rear end as well as a set of RideTech coilovers with four-link rear suspension and a custom QA1 sway bar up front. Baer six-piston disc brakes can be found at the four corners helping bring the truck to a stop. Power for “Clem” comes by way of a 415-horsepower 5.0-liter Ford Coyote engine with Ford Racing fuel injection coupled with a four-speed automatic transmission.
“You can’t beat that motor,” said Jim Ring. “You get in, you turn the key, it fires right up, and they’re relatively inexpensive. You can buy a Coyote crate motor for as much as it takes to build an old motor into something reliable, and why would you want that?”
Prestone coolant helps keep the engine running at the optimal temperature while custom stainless steel Flowmaster headers and exhaust give the truck a one-of-a-kind tone.
Inside, there’s a Kicker stereo system and custom interior by Upholstery Unlimited. Gauges are from Classic Instruments and a Vintage Air Gen IV Magnum climate-control system regulates the cab’s temperature.
“We try hard to build our vehicles so you can get in and drive them and enjoy them every day,” said Jim Ring.
That’s actually the motivation behind why they never gave up their collision repair service despite having their hands full year-round with custom builds – wrecked cars keep the team up to date on the latest tech while inspiring innovation.
“We stay up on collision, because we get to see how these cars are made and how they’re put together,” said Mike Ring. “It’s a good fit for us as we’re building these older vehicles and trying to make them modern, especially after we get to tear them apart because they’ve been damaged. It has proven to be a bonus when building a car from scratch.”
The process has also helped them in engineering aftermarket parts for DIY builders struggling with the same issues they do.
“We’re all about dissecting problems that we encounter and engineering a solution,” explained Jim Ring. “‘Clem 101’ inspired us to create new products for early Ford and Chevy pickups such as a complete door-hinge kit as well as combination tie-down/bolt cover-up and bed-lighting kit for Stepsides.”
“Clem 101” was the byproduct of nearly seven months of work done by the Rings at their own pace and in the style they wanted. Yet they approached it in the same manner as when they build vehicles for their customers – the beauty of their work is far from being only skin-deep.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work on this pickup that you’d probably walk right by and never notice,” said Mike Ring. “There’s a lot of passion in what we do,” added Jim Rin