No one aspires to be average, but bell curves are an ugly fact of life. Whether the subjects at hand are doctors, taco trucks, or toilet bowl cleaners, the final tally yields a little bit of sucky, a little bit of great, and a whole lot of average. The same principle applies to hot rod builders, as most churn out good but not particularly memorable products. Even so, simple statistics means that some shops will defy the odds and end up on the far right side of the bell curve. By continually giving the status quo the middle finger and leveraging their artistic and fabrication abilities these elite hot rod shops build machines with a unique visual signature that no one else can emulate. Take Bob Venne’s ’70 Camaro, for instance. Anyone that knows anything about Pro Touring muscle cars will immediately recognize it as a Ringbrothers creation. The look, feel, and overall execution of every Ringbrothers build is that distinctive, and this 650-horsepower second-gen Camaro represents yet another round of design brilliance and creativity gone wild.
Car owner Bob Venne has always had a thing for second-gens, and he putted around town in a ’79 Z28 as a teenager. However, the ’70- 73 models were his true passion and he vowed to build one someday. Bob soon developed an interest in dirt track racing, but the responsibilities of life required walking away from the hobby, and he survived many years without a project car. That all changed one day when he caught a glimpse of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s famed ’72 Camaro. “That car renewed my interest in early second-gens and inspired me to look for a project car. I really liked the idea of building a muscle car with an aggressive stance, big brakes, a lot of motor, and modern amenities,” he explains. “I found a good candidate for a build not too far away from me in Minnesota. It had no motor and the front end was completely disassembled. Since it wasn’t something rare, like an RS or a Z28, I didn’t have a problem with cutting it up.”
If Bob’s car bears a striking resemblance to what a modern concept car based on a second-gen Camaro should look like, it’s not a coincidence. That’s the design philosophy behind many of Ringbrothers’ creations, and they walk the fine line between aggressive and garish better than anyone around. “The entire front fascia is a custom one-off design. On a stock Camaro, the front body lines go off in different directions, so we wanted to add some continuity,” Jim Ring explains. “Compared to stock, the custom sheetmetal front bumpers and chin spoiler are toned down and flow into the body lines much better. We also added custom brake vents under the front bumpers. To add some dimension, we built a custom carbon-fiber piece on the hood that covers the cowl.”
As onlookers progress rearward, the custom touches keep stacking up. Trans Am-style quarter-panel vents cool the rear brakes, and there’s a racy quick-fill fuel door grafted into the driver side B-pillar. Furthermore, the custom rear bumper tucks tightly into the sheetmetal, machined billet rings frame the taillights, and the exhaust exits through a custom rear roll pan. There’s even an adjustable rear spoiler for dialing in rear downforce. Despite the dizzying number of custom body mods, what’s most impressive is how the Ringbrothers manage to push the envelope of tastefulness without crossing over into the land of gaudiness.
Obviously, any car that packs this much visual punch better have some beans to back it up. It does. Power comes from a Mast Motorsports 427ci LS7 small-block that registers 650 ponies on the engine dyno. As no surprise, the motor is cocooned in a fully customized engine bay. The firewall, radiator core support, and airbox are all custom pieces. Even the inner fenders got a mini-tub job to house the massive front meats. Custom shrouding covers up the ugly factory coil packs, and also feature a lime green scallop pattern that ties into the hood stripes.