A jaw-dropping creation from Ringbrothers has almost become a tradition at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas. The 2023 edition of this aftermarket auto industry event didn’t disappoint, with not one, not two, but three builds on show, scattered around various exhibitor booths. The 1965 Mustang convertible featured here, known as ‘Uncaged’, was one of them.
It was a Mustang that first brought the Ringbrothers – Jim and Mike Ring - to wider attention, when their ‘Reactor’ 1967 fastback won the Mother’s Choice Award for best build at SEMA in 2006. Although they’d been in business as general smash repairers for more than a decade by that point, Reactor demonstrated their design and fabrication skills on custom builds. Since Reactor, more than a dozen Mustang builds have followed, almost all of which have been based on first-gen fastbacks or convertibles. Camaros, Chargers and other classic American muscle cars have rolled out of their workshop, too.
In 2022, Ringbrothers unveiled ‘Caged’, followed by ‘Uncaged’ in 2023. Both are early Mustang convertibles (1964 ½ and 1965, respectively) and have many similarities, including the same exterior colour and driveline upgrade to a 5.0-litre V8 and 10-speed auto transmission. A Roadster Shop chassis with IRS, big disc brakes all round and custom wheels are common to both Caged and Uncaged, too.
Much of what was learned on Caged has been applied to Uncaged, but expanded and improved in all areas.
"Every aspect of this build has been thoroughly reimagined," said Jim Ring. “It's lower and meaner; a mix of tradition and modern carried throughout the bodywork and into the cabin."
What may escape notice at first glance is that this creation has been comprehensively reworked in every area – so much so that it’s claimed the wheel centre caps were the only factory parts left untouched.
While still recognisably a Mustang, the body on Uncaged is wider by 2.0 inches, allowing for a wider track, while the front guards have been reshaped and there’s an all-new front valance. Above that, the front bumper has been both lengthened and tucked in, while the grille sits 2.0 inches further back in its surround. Even the Mustang’s signature ‘galloping horse’ emblem has been redesigned. The side scoop trims were redesigned and Ringbrothers built their own tail light bezels in the Mustang style that are larger and house LEDs.
To accommodate a custom Roadster Shop ‘Fast Track’ chassis, the front guards have been extended down and the sills are deeper. A similar approach has been taken at the back end, with the rear quarters and valance made deeper than factory. The rear bumper has been lengthened and tucked, like the front, while the Fast Tack also allows for lower floorpans to be fitted, too.
The body is finished in BASF Glasurit ‘Burgundy Brave’ paint, while the bumpers and all the exterior brightwork has been treated to Cerakote Titanium C-105P; a product that leaves a warm, satin finish.
Like Caged, the drivetrain in Uncaged has been upgraded to a modern 5.0-litre Coyote V8, matched to a Ford 10R80 ten-speed automatic – similar to what’s found in the current Mustang GT. The V8 is a crate engine, producing a claimed 460hp and 420ft/lb (343kW and 569Nm) at 7,000rpm and 4,600rpm, respectively. Custom valve covers and other accents on top of the V8 have been fitted as part of a fully detailed and individualised engine bay.
There’s a custom driveshaft, too, and while the diff spec isn’t listed, presumably it’s a modern version of the classic 9-inch.
The ‘Fast Track’ chassis is designed to take IRS, which in Uncaged consists of Penske Racing RS Edition coilover shocks. A front anti-roll bar has been added to improve handling and there’s a modern Woodward steering rack, too.
Big 14-inch (550mm) brake rotors with Baer six-piston calipers are possible thanks to even larger 18-inch alloys. Mimicking the original Styled Steel wheel, these 18x9 front and 18x11 rear rims are one-off units made by EVOD Industries. Fitted with the aforementioned original centre caps and finished in the same Cerakote treatment as the rest of the exterior trim, the wheels are wrapped in Continental redline tyres to complete the retro look.
An all-new interior, styled by Sean Smith Designs and produced by Upholstery Unlimited (a longtime partner of Ringbrothers), includes a bespoke steering wheel that shows influences of the original deluxe wheel styling, but is smaller in diameter. Dakota Digital gauges, USB outlets, cupholders in the centre console and custom door handles are more obvious deviations from what this Mustang would have been fitted with in 1965. The pedals are different, too, while the floor shifter for the automatic transmission combines classic and modern elements.
The seats are plusher, more deeply padded than original and trimmed in leather, too. Aside from a few special builds for senior FoMoCo executives, leather upholstery was never an option on the first-gen Mustang, but it’s everywhere in Uncaged, including the dashtop, doorcards, kick panels, convertible hood cover and even the sunvisors. On everything else, a soft satin finish complements the Cerakote Titanium coating applied to the exterior trim
"With Uncaged, we expanded on our prior experience building Caged to create something similar but also entirely unique," said Mike Ring. "In all, we spent over 4,000 hours shaping and refining this build.”
Ringbrothers partners in this build included Gentex, BASF, Motul, GFS, Heat Shield Products, Miller Welding, Painless Wiring and others. Uncaged was displayed in the Gentex booth.
At SEMA 2023, other Ringbrothers vehicles on display included ‘Tusk’, a 1969 Dodge Charger with a ‘Hellephant’ 7.0-litre V8 crate engine, and ‘Paramount’, a 1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II saloon. For a detailed story on the Rolls-Royce, click HERE.