Classic Cars, Features

The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is the Rally Special We Never Got – Automobile


Be more like Cory Muensterman. That’s the lesson after an afternoon with the affable mechanic in his tidy-but-crowded shop that serves as both workspace and storage. Vocationally, he’s got it about as good as it gets; after squeezing between two Renault 5 Turbos in different states of repair, you’re greeted with a space almost entirely occupied by hibernating automotive superstars. A pair of Carrera GTs sleep under tight-fitting covers just a socket’s toss from a 993 Turbo and first-generation Ford GT. In the corner, tucked behind a white Defender 110, a pair of pre-war Bentleys with sequential serial numbers—originally built for a husband and wife—sleep under a thick coat of dust.

Closer to the front of the shop, you’ll find Muensterman’s favorites. “This is the coolest car in here,” he smiles as he points to a gray Lancia Delta S4 on storage lift. A Ford RS200 he previously owned sits silently underneath the S4, sold a while ago to fund the restoration of his well-known “Busby” 1978 BMW 320i Turbo race car, an ultra-boxy E21 weapon from the glory days of IMSA GT. Pragmatically, he reminds me that most of us take this whole vintage car thing too seriously. “You don’t need to be gentle with it,” he explains as he whips the door open on the 320i after staff photographer Brandon Lim cautiously touched the windowsill. “I’m definitely not.”

“They’re just cars,” he tells us. That attitude extends to his old RS200 and the three Renault 5 Turbos littered around the space. “I can never figure out why people are so scared of working on those things,” he sighs when asked about the mid-engine French uber-hatch. “They’re so simple once you understand them. ”  Don’t mistake him for jaded; spend enough time around any car, and all the myths and legends burn off like condensation. He’s owned, operated, broken, and rebuilt nearly every type of 1980s homologation special save the disastrous Citroen BX 4TC. At the end of the day, these are rough, mechanical tools built not for comfort or regular road use, and he’s seen them at their very worst.

Muensterman’s personal Group B fleet is long gone these days, but he’s still in the homologation special club. I made this house call for a rare rally special from a different era; when not futzing with customer’s cars or prepping the Busby 320i, he scoots around the South Bay in a 1995 Ford Escort RS Cosworth, one of the many non-USDM performance specials from the American automaker and one of the most prolific rally specials of the 1990s.

There’s precious few “forbidden fruits” truly worth losing sleep over—stuff like the then-new Porsche 959, older Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, and the new Toyota Yaris GR spring to mind as the more lamentable omissions—but overseas hotness from Ford is an outlier. The Blue Oval is about as American as shooting an apple pie with a star-spangled rifle, but for the better part of the 20th century, its overseas operations were mostly left to their own devices when it came to product planning and development, particularly in Europe and Australia. This means there’s a whole heap of tasty performance coupes, sedans, roadsters, wagons, and hatches wearing the Ford crest that we never got our sticky little fingers on.

Sometimes, this separation begat parallel product lines that shared a name but had little relation to one another, like the Ford Escort. Production of the USDM Escort ran the course of three generations from 1980 through 2003, while Europe enjoyed its own distinct versions from 1968 until 2004. A trip through nearly 40 years of the euro Escort provides a perfect cross-section of rally-ready, not-for-the-U.S. specials, including the legendary rear-wheel-drive Escort RS2000 that dominated mixed-surface stages in the 1970s.

Of the later front-wheel-drive Escorts, the RS Cosworth is by far the most potent variant. Developed primarily for the competitive FIA Group A class—a roster that includes such greats as the Lancia Delta Integrale, Subaru Impreza 22B STi, Lancer Evolution, and BMW E30 M3—the RS Cosworth was the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive weapon Ford hoped would claim the WRC championship title. It never did take the overall championship, but the Escort did win ten rallies between 1993 and 1998 before it was replaced by the new Focus in 1999. In that relatively short time, a host of legendary drivers like Carlos Sainz, François Delecour, and Tommi Mäkinen wheeled the Escort to its multiple victories.

Though it wears an Escort badge on the rear decklid, very little is shared with its namesake save a handful of the exterior body panels. The chassis, engine, and drivetrain are copy-pasted from the larger Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, a high-performance homologation derivative of the staid Sierra family sedan that went on to outright dominate the touring car scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Transposing the Escort design onto a Sierra platform was tricky work, so Ford outsourced the work to German contract auto manufacturer Karmann to handle production.

The result of all this nip/tuck is an aggressive design that’s aged as elegantly as Pierce Brosnan. With fat, flared fenders and a wide track on a relatively small frame, it looks like someone pumped the euro-chic Escort full of myostatin inhibitors and let it loose in the gym for a few months. Of course, that delightfully purposeful rear spoiler makes this instantly recognizable, though Muensterman admits he added the trademark whale tail; his car was one of the few that arrived wing-less.

It’s got the guts to match the muscles, too. All Escort Cossies (as they’re affectionately called) pack Cosworth’s YB-series 2.0-liter four-cylinder, though the first 2,500 examples wear a bigger homologation-spec Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger and air/water intercooler to appease FIA regulations. Later cars—including this one—breathe through a smaller Garrett T25 turbo with significantly less lag and near-identical performance. Muensterman’s driven both, and he prefers the later small turbo variants, citing better day-to-day performance than the harsh, explosive nature of the first 2,500.

The longitudinally-mounted Cosworth YBP is as stout a four-cylinder as there ever was, despite the block tracing its lineage back to the Ford Pinto engine originally introduced in 1970. That doesn’t mean this is old-world stuff; at least by 1990s standards, it’s a thoroughly modern design with forced induction, DOHC, and four valves per cylinder. A well-balanced 224 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque is on tap, routed through a Sierra-sourced five-speed manual transmission and a full-time all-wheel-drive system split 34:66 front to rear.

For the uninitiated, this can be a very intimidating car, both visually and conceptually. FIA homologation carries weight, particularly when it’s from an era renowned for big, unpredictable turbos and explosive acceleration in high-strung short-wheelbase cars. Happily, the Cossie bucks expectations and is about as quick and hard-to-drive as a brand-new Subaru WRX. That 224 hp has a relatively hefty 2,800 pounds to pull around, so 0-60 takes somewhere in the mid-five-second range, topping out at respectable 144 mph.

Despite the downsized turbocharger, there’s still some initial lag from a dig, though it dissipates quickly and gives way to strong mid-range pull that lessens as you reach the 6,500 rpm redline. Compared to the antiseptic, direct-injected, and highly muffled four-cylinders found in modern hot hatches, the YBP is buzzy and alive, sounding off with a rorty grumble and turbo hiss that’s so evocative of other pumped-up four-pots from this era.

Muensterman modified his example with sympathetic bolt-ons that complement rather than overwhelm the car’s character, including Mongoose exhaust, Bilstein shocks and springs, short shift kit, and those excellent 18-inch Compomotive wheels. Power-wise, it’s essentially bone-stock, but that’s not for a lack of capability. Tuning shops have pushed the output of this itty-bitty 2.0-liter over the 1,000 hp mark for years; too much, he says. “I wouldn’t want this with over 400 hp,” he admits. “I tell the guys who do want that kind of power to stick with WRXs and Evos. A similar experience, but much cheaper.”

With these mild mods, every input is just the right amount of analogue. Steering is a bit overboosted, but turn-in is still sharp and very tactile. Shifting is direct and reasonably short, while the clutch pedal is well-sprung and forgiving, as is the suspension. Most of my time behind the wheel was on arrow-straight harbor roads, but the few bumps and gentle curves I crossed were dispatched with the same old-school non-adaptive, un-adjustable mechanical ride as other older sport compacts. Inside, it’s a wonderland of mid-1990s smooth-edged plastic, offset by epic period-correct Recaro seats and a weighted metal shift knob. It’s a hopped-up, hunkered-down compact car that’s completely analogous to the contemporary WRX/Evo, albeit with an extra dusting of motorsports “cool.”

It certainly attracts more attention than an old Subaru. Parked near a public beach, passersby fixated on the bulky little coupe in part due to the clean, aggressive lines but mostly thanks to the luscious Gold Pearl paint that makes this a one-of-one car. According to Muensterman, Karmann built this specific Escort for either the 1995 or 1996 Frankfurt auto show, displaying it proudly on its floor stand. Aside from unique paint, the aforementioned shift knob, seat material pattern, and portions of the steering wheel material are all bespoke to this car.

Itching to sell your new STI and hop in a Cossie? Make sure you do your due diligence regarding importation and registration laws, especially in California. Most Escort RS Cosworths populating the pages of Bring a Trailer are brought in under the 25-year import law, bit if you’re lucky and patient, you might be able to score one of a handful of Escorts imported by Sun International (now Sun Speed) in the late 1990s. The team at Sun managed to federalize some Cossies to DOT, EPA, and even CARB standards, so those might be the easiest ones to register—provided you can find one. If you can’t, former Sun employee Muensterman says Sun Speed would be more than happy to import another car for you, provided you have the coin.



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Auctions, Classic Cars, News

First-Ever Dodge Viper RT/10 Built Sells for Big Bucks – Automobile


First-generation Dodge Vipers have been on our short list for budget performance cars for years now. With solid examples of the early Viper RT/10 roadster typically selling in the $30,000 bracket, we’d argue there are few more potent or eye-catching cars for the money. So what to make of a 1992 Dodge Viper bringing $285,500 at Bonhams’ Scottsdale auction? Let’s just say this is no ordinary Viper; it’s only previous owner was the late Lee Iacocca and the car was also the first production Viper built, with number 001 on the VIN tag.

When the Viper was introduced with a bang for the 1992 model year, it was a critical car for parent company Chrysler. At the helm of the brand was Iacocca, already legendary as the father of the Ford Mustang, among other triumphs. Iacocca, realizing a savvy business and marketing opportunity when he saw one, also brought none other than Carroll Shelby on board to help develop and promote the car. Under the neo-Cobra bodywork sat an 8.0-liter V-10 engine co-developed with Lamborghini, which Chrysler owned at the time. With 400 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque blasting out of the side-exit exhaust system, the Viper was just about the hottest car going that year, and it was clearly an instant classic. Iacocca retired from Chrysler at the end of 1992.

Four generations of Viper followed with steady performance improvements before the model’s retirement in 2017, but the original model is still the most fondly remembered by many Viper enthusiasts. Values have dipped significantly as more modern Viper models flood the used-car market, and while you can find lesser examples for closer to $20,000, spending 50 percent more puts a buyer in the position of picking from the very best cars available.

Of course, the high bidder at Bonhams paid a significant premium to take home Iacocca’s Viper #001—nearly 10 times what an excellent 1992 Viper would fetch a little further down the assembly line. We’re still waiting for verification, but we believe this to be a new world record for a first-generation Viper RT/10 at auction. As a modern classic from the 1990s, we believe the future holds more appreciation potential as those who grew up lusting after Vipers in their youth come into greater spending power.

Two other Iacocca-owned cars went to new owners at the Bonhams sale, a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country convertible that sold for $19,040 and a 2009 Ford Mustang Iacocca 45th Anniversary Edition that brought $49,280, both of which are featured in the gallery below. Iacocca passed away at the age of 94 in July 2019.



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Classic Cars, Features

Driving the 1991 Acura NSX to Radwood – Automobile


Do you remember when you first saw an Acura NSX? Maybe it was a car show, in a magazine, or on TV. For me, it was in the Universal Studios lot, a black first-generation example with black wheels. I remember thinking it looked sinister, sporty, and exotic. I still have the low-resolution cellphone photo I took all those years ago, the wedge-like Acura parked somewhat awkwardly on a tarmac slope.

Since then, the NSX has been one of my dream cars. I’ve built and raced them in video games and taken photos of nearly every single one I’ve seen. Last year, I tried my hand at proper VTEC power in a 2001 Acura Integra Type R ahead of Radwood SoCal, which celebrates cars from the 1980s and 1990s with a sense of lighthearted nostalgia, whetting my appetite to drive the NSX all the more.

This year, Acura was kind enough to lend me its oldest road-going example of the groundbreaking supercar ahead of this year’s Radwood in Orange County. On the Friday before the show, I headed over to Honda’s HQ in Torrance and picked up the keys to the silver VIN 52 NSX, a preproduction build that predates the first customer car by 10 units. As such, our test car had over 60,000 miles on the odometer. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great driver; Acura refreshed the paint, updated the internals, and touched up the interior where it needed it.

This 1991 model featured a 3.0-liter V-6 at its heart, churning out a hearty 270 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. It revs to a screaming 8,000 rpm, and doing so is highly recommended. Gear changes are handled by a five-speed manual transmission with short and satisfyingly snappy throws. Its power is more than plenty for a car that weighs just 3,010 lbs. In most cases, hitting redline in second gear means you’re over the speed limit.

All of which is to say the first-generation NSX is still bonkers fast today. It hits its stride once the engine enters the VTEC zone; peak power is made at 7,100 rpm. Figure a 0-60 mph time comfortably under six seconds. The excitement builds as acceleration continues; the V-6 offers plenty of power to keep pulling well beyond any posted speed limit in the United States.

Our test car didn’t have power steering – but that just helped the NSX feel even more tactile and mechanical. It helps that the driver operates the throttle and brake by cable. On twisty roads the NSX is a surprisingly stable and willing companion. Its best to let the engine live at high RPMs, when power and torque availability seems instant. Four-channel ABS was one of the car’s significant engineering features and was a welcome safety net considering that this is the oldest example in the United States.

As a show car, the NSX drew plenty of eyeballs at Radwood as part of Acura’s display, which included the 350-hp restomod SLX SUV and a first-generation Integra. It was only one of two NSXs that we saw on site. Even in the rain and mud, the low-slung silver sportscar drew spectators in for a closer look. Getting out of the park was only the slightest bit dicey as the performance-oriented tires struggled for grip on the soaked soil.

Although it came straight from Acura’s collection, our NSX did have some issues that needed attention. For one, the radio was out, although this wasn’t too much of a problem because the naturally aspirated engine is one of the best sounding V-6s out there. The left mirror didn’t quite fully articulate and the trunk lid struts no longer could support the weight of the deck. The third gear synchro seemed to be somewhat temperamental and on occasion it was impossible to shift into reverse gear.

Fortunately, I was just the guinea pig for this refreshed NSX; Acura will continue to tighten it up so it can be driven as it deserves to be. Representatives from the brand told me the car isn’t meant to ever be fully restored. It’ll be a driver, with a somewhat worn interior and some slight imperfections. This way, Acura can continue to share its brand lineage through the vehicle that helped solidify its place in the luxury performance space.

My net impression is that the NSX is the Miata of supercars from its era. It isn’t the most powerful of expensive, but it’s always a respectable choice and will always satisfy in nearly every situation. I had no problem commuting, shopping, carving canyons, or cruising freeways in the NSX. As far as meet-your-heroes moments go, this is one that I’ll forever remember with fondness. Check out our video to see our journey to Radwood.



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Classic Car Profiles & Reviews, Classic Cars, Ethos, Features

Wall Art Comes Alive: We Drive the Lamborghini Countach!


It’s become almost cliché to say, but I was one of thousands of kids in the 1980s with a poster of a Lamborghini Countach tacked to my bedroom wall. Not the one my friend had with a bikini-clad model draped across a white hood. Instead, it was a red Countach, parked almost haphazardly on a double-yellow apex turn sharp enough to necessitate four or five bright yellow and black arrow signs warning oncoming drivers of its treachery.

When I’d get home from school, the Lamborghini was there waiting for me. I’d dream of flipping its door up, clambering in, and firing up that rip-snorting V-12. It stood out from the other posters that covered nearly every inch of my room. The Ferrari Testarossa was almost tame by comparison, and the Corvette ZR1, with its crisp folds that gave it away as a freebie from a copy of MotorTrend, was undeniably ordinary. To this car-obsessed fourth grader, the Countach was the ultimate—a mashup of a Le Mans prototype and an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet. When I finally saw one in the sheetmetal at a local car show, it cost me half the roll of film in my disposable Kodak camera. Save the bizarre Vector W2, it was simply the wildest car I knew. And it was almost a colossal failure.

These “downdraft” cars were the most powerful Countach variants made and require a deck bulge to clear the six Weber carburetors.

The Countach was among the last Lamborghinis born under the direction of company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. Work began in 1970 as project LP112 to replace the curvaceous but aging Miura. It was to use the same basic engine as that car (developed by former Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini), turned longitudinally in a new Paolo Stanzani-engineered chassis and enlarged from 4.0 to 5.0 liters. The first prototype, dubbed LP500, was given a radical new wedge-shaped body and scissor-style doors from Miura designer Marcello Gandini at Bertone, which borrowed from his prior Alfa Romeo Carabo and Lancia Stratos Zero concepts.

By the time Lamborghini showed the LP500 concept at the 1971 Geneva show (alongside the evolved Miura SV), the name had changed to Countach—thanks to Gandini’s Piedmontese styling assistant who would frequently utter, “Contacc!”—an expression of awe and astonishment in his native tongue. Wider, lower, and shorter than the Miura, the Countach was an instant system shock representing years of conceptual ideas come to life. It quickly graced the cover of nearly every automotive magazine worldwide.

But the following year, cracks started to emerge in the global economy. The ensuing turmoil forced Ferruccio to sell the tractor business he built his empire upon. His fledgling automobile enterprise, by then not quite a decade old, wasn’t doing much better. With the production version of the Countach missing deadline after deadline, the founder ultimately sold his controlling stake in the company to friend Georges-Henri Rossetti, a Swiss businessman. Lamborghini himself was retained to get the car to production, and in 1974 the Countach LP400 finally came to market with Stanzani’s advanced tubular space frame chassis but featuring the smaller 4.0-liter engine adapted from the Miura. Drained of his passion, Ferruccio eventually sold his remaining stake in Automobili Lamborghini and retired to the Italian countryside to make wine as his father had before him. He was still doing just that in 1993 when he died at 76.

Those lovely fixed-back seats are actually very comfortable, and the high center console gives a “cockpit” feel.

Lamborghini’s struggles continued even after the Countach started selling in the European market, and by 1980 the marque was in bankruptcy proceedings. That same year, French entrepreneurs Patrick Mimran and brother Jean Claude took control of Lamborghini in receivership and bought it outright in ’82. During Patrick’s reign as CEO, the company began selling the now eight-year-old Countach in the U.S. Success came rapidly, and by 1986, Patrick Mimran was ordering his third Countach “company car”—the one I’m about to drive.

It’s good to be the boss, and for Mimran, any old Countach wouldn’t do. This 1986 5000 Quattrovalvole wears one-off Bordeuax Speciale paint custom mixed by Lamborghini supplier PPG Milano. It looks sensational contrasted with the Oro wheels and Panna leather interior. The engine is special, too: It’s one of 300 “downdraft” European-spec cars eschewing fuel injection for six downdraft Weber 44 DCNF carburetors lined up in the vee of its now 5.2-liter V-12. Add special-order sport cams (and an extra oil cooler), and this Countach is among the most powerful built, with 470 hp, an extra 15 compared to standard downdraft models and nearly 100 more horses than the fuel-injected U.S.-spec cars.

A stealthy yet high-end period Alpine stereo rounds out the extras, as Mimran, a music fanatic, routinely used this Countach for blasts between his home in Switzerland and Lamborghini headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy. Even in a Lamborghini, that’s a long drive without tunes. Interestingly, this car was ordered without its single extra-cost option: the $6,500 V-shaped rear wing. Perhaps the reason was that the drag it created shaved about 10 mph off the car’s top speed, or perhaps Mimran just preferred the cleaner look. We think it looks perfect as is.

The car was so loved that it stayed with Mimran for a short time even after he sold Lamborghini to Chrysler in 1987 (which turned his $3 million initial investment into a $25 million megadeal). It passed through a Swiss owner until 2015, when Joe Sackey, a British expatriate investment banker turned U.S.-based supercar specialist, bought it from a client. A serial Countach owner who bought his first one brand-new in the 1980s, Sackey found the Mimran provenance intriguing enough that his intention of reselling the car quickly gave way to a lengthy and comprehensive restoration by Oceanside, California-based Dugan Enterprises. The goal was to put the car back in as-new condition. By all measures, it was achieved.

I reach into the depths of the NACA duct on the driver-side door and click open the latch. The door rises easily, assisted by a pneumatic prop, revealing the gently curving, fixed-back seats that look like they were ripped out of a spaceship. The first person to place a posterior in this driver’s seat was none other than official Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni, who drove the car straight off the assembly line. Recently, Balboni was given a second chance to drive it following the restoration, making small but critical suggestions to perfectly dial in its performance.

Driving a car you’ve idolized for years is a funny thing. Sometimes your heroes aren’t the machines you thought they were, though sometimes they’re even better. Weeks before I got into the driver’s seat, I’d talked to a couple friends who’d had seat time in a Countach for tips on what to expect. Tales of “trucklike” (its own cliché at this point in Countach land) steering and ride quality, finicky engines and clutches, and brakes that would have a hard time slowing down a hot dog cart are what I heard most often. I’m not sure which Countach they drove, but it wasn’t this one.

With a twist of its oval-shaped black key, the engine fires quickly. Already warm, it settles into a calm idle with no indication of fussiness. The gated shift lever needs a strong tug to get it into first gear (down and to the left, race car style), and the clutch pedal, while firm, isn’t the leg press machine I’d been led to believe. The throttle is lighter in action and a little sensitive, so it’s easy to go heavy on the revs when getting away from a stop.

The personalized key fob is among the artifacts linking this car to Patrick Mimran. The speedometer is in kph, this being a Euro-spec car.

The steering, heavy at low speeds, begins to loosen, and after the up-and-right shift into second then straight down into third, the Countach starts to hit its stride. Getting more comfortable, I knock the car back down into second with a blip of the throttle, then get back on the gas with more conviction. The sound its six Weber carbs make right behind your head as they gulp down air is really something; I’m reveling in the rare opportunity.

Into third once more, and I pin the throttle under my foot as the tachometer makes a run for 7,000 rpm. I have the side windows cracked to better hear that giant 5.2-liter V-12 bellow out its quad exhaust pipes—a mechanical concerto that someone should set to a musical soundtrack. Getting out of the gas before a sharp right-hander, I’m treated to an angry series of pops and bangs that make the hairs on my neck stand up. This car isn’t interested in slowing down.

It quickly becomes apparent that a well-maintained Countach isn’t a car to fear. The visibility out the back and rear quarters isn’t terrific, and, mostly for that reason, it wouldn’t be great in rush-hour traffic or on busy city streets. But the ride isn’t jarring, the steering is precise, and the view out front is fantastic, with thin A-pillars and a virtual 180-degree view over the low dashboard that offers excellent sightlines of the road ahead. I can barely see the hood at all, and the sensation of asphalt rushing toward the car makes me feel as though I’m driving even quicker than my moderate pace.

With the sky turning ominously gray, we’re worried about getting this concours-grade car caught up in a downpour, but the twists and turns keep coming and the Countach devours them with its flat stance, those massive 335-section rear Pirelli P7s keeping the business end in check. It aches to run harder, but I decide to play things safe and hand the key back over to its rightful owner before I get too comfortable. After all, it’s never a great idea to get too confident in someone else’s Lamborghini. And anyway, somewhere in the back of a closet, there’s a dusty, old, thumbtack-pricked poster that needs framing.

Read More
Classic Drive: 1988 Countach 5000 QV
Original Influencer: History of the Lamborghini Miura
What It’s Like to Drive a Ferrari Testarossa








The post Wall Art Comes Alive: We Drive the Lamborghini Countach! appeared first on Automobile Magazine.



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Classic Cars, News

The Ultimate 2019 SEMA Photo Gallery


The 2019 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is in full swing and we are back in Las Vegas, Nevada for this year’s even bigger show. Check out a really big photo gallery of the cars, stars, and plenty of WTFs from the convention center floor and even from outside in the parking lots. The specialty products trade event is jam packed with the most outrageous rides from Chevrolet, Ford, Mopar, and hundreds of tuners from around the world. See the latest from the Ringbrothers, S550 Electric Mustang, Hennessey Resurrection, an LS-Swapped Huracán, and a whole lot more in the gallery below.

And don’t forget to check back to see the latest, greatest, and plenty of head scratchers too as we update the gallery.


















































Big thanks and a shout out to HOT ROD and Newspress for the photos!

The post The Ultimate 2019 SEMA Photo Gallery appeared first on Automobile Magazine.



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Classic Cars, News

Ringbrothers’ Kick-Ass 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Packs 700 HP | Automobile Magazine – Automobile


The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is back in Las Vegas for another installment, and that means Spring Green, Wisconsin-based Ringbrothers is back with another special creation. This time, the well-known muscle-car re-inventor has unveiled a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, dubbed “UNKL.” According to the company, the name has a simple origin: one of the Ringbrothers owners “enjoyed a close relationship with his uncle. The build pays tribute to his uncle’s influence on his passion for cars.”

With a race-inspired theme, UNKL is powered by a 520-cubic-inch Jon Kaase Boss engine making 700 horsepower. The juice is transferred to the rear wheels via a reworked Bowler six-speed Tremec gearbox and a QA1 carbon-fiber driveshaft. We haven’t heard the engine fire up, but Ringbrothers says its aggressive sound comes courtesy of a custom stainless-steel Flowmaster exhaust.

The modified exterior is painted with custom BASF “Big Boss Blue,” and the body is widened by 1.0 inch on each side. The body itself is a mixture of reshaped carbon-fiber and steel panels. Other custom details include billet taillights, reshaped bumpers and trim, and engine-bay accessories that were custom machined at Ringbrothers’ headquarters.

UNKL uses Detroit Speed Engineering’s Aluma-Frame front suspension system with a cast aluminum cradle, custom-tuned steering rack, tubular suspension arms, and custom adjustable RideTech coilovers. The rear is equipped with Detroit Speed’s QuadraLink suspension system and RideTech shocks. Detroit Speed also supplied the front and rear antiroll bars. Stopping power is provided by Baer with huge 6S Extreme calipers. UNKL rides on a bespoke set of forged HRE Wheels carrying Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (295/35R-19 front, 345/30R-20 rear).

UNKL of course also boasts a race-inspired custom interior, done by Upholstery Unlimited. It features Recaro seats, Ringbrothers billet components, an Ididit steering column, gauges by Classic Instruments, and “a cabin kept at a comfortable temperature thanks to a Vintage Air Gen IV Magnum evap kit.”



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