MUSTANGDRIVER | JANUARY 2020TEXT & IMAGES  |  DONALD FARRFrom the MUSTANGDRIVER archivesFor the good part of the life of the Mustang, the rigor d'jour was to find a Mustang and restore it to its once former life. If the car was Poppy Red with Pony interior and an A-code 289 and a C4 automatic, well, that's how the restoration went down. Every nut, bolt, paint run, grease pencil mark, even orange peel in the paint was replicated in such detail that the cars were exquisitely finer that what Ford built. They became a facsimile of what came out of Ford's Dearborn, San Jose, and Metuchen assembly plants of the 1960s.These replicants took a car that was bought by the millions as a driver's car and transformed the Mustang into a static work of art stuck in one day in the life of a car the day before it was sold to some happy person. Some might say these cars took the soul of the Mustang, bottled it up, and placed it inside a vault to be never let loose again.

Michael Schmalz grew up in the replicant Mustang world and decided that it was time to restore the soul of the Mustang to what the world fell in love with on April 17, 1964, a car that represented individualism, freedom, and Americana. His idea to restore the soul was brought into the modern world by two brothers, Jim and Mike Ring, working in a simple shop Wisconsin. The two brothers also once lived in the replicant Mustang world and when they saw what Michael had in mind they jumped at the chance.  

The Brothers also were very kind to praise for Michael's design sense and his ability to visualize ideas and details that would be lost on most other people. When we carefully study the photos of SplitR, we began to understand how well thought-out and executed SplitR is. This car is the height of the Mustang lifestyle; SplitR is haute couture of the Mustang. When asked about the name, Michael explained it's a word with several automotive meanings.
The Ring Brothers explained that their goal is not to remake the Mustang but to use modern techniques and materials to free the original design from the limitations of 50 years ago. ABOVE: Raise white-letter Nitto tires can't be bought, at least not like these. If you want this look on your Mustang, you will need to sand the sidewalls smooth, then apply the letters and be patient for 20 hours or so. The HRE wheels aren't bad-looking either. BELOW: Jim and Mike Ring execute the interior of their cars with the same care, thought, and craftsmanship as their paint and body work. The billet pieces are not left in the raw. Rather, they are sanded smooth and painted. That's not carbon fiber weave carpet; it's actually fabric for seats. Split means "leave," and  SplitR, or "splitter," is another word for spoiler or wing on a race car. A subtle meaning is exemplified in the paint scheme. The white stripe on the car splits the car in two visually. Unlike GM or Mopar stripes that stop above the bumpers, SplitR's stripe keeps the Ford and Shelby DNA by extending from the bottom of the front valance to the bottom of rear valance.   MUSTANGDRIVER | JANUARY 2020