RUFFIAN MUSTANG: "Boss 427" LS3-Powered Widebody 1970 Ford Mustang | Nicole Johnson's Detour S2:E4


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The first car Chris Ashton ever built became an internet legend. If ever there was a love-hate relationship with a car, you're about to have one. His 1970 Mustang breaks all the rules, and plays by some new ones.

Chris. Your car is amazing. I cannot even believe that I'm here right now. Thanks. Obviously this thing has been seen on the internet, and there have been people that have done videos on it, and your Instagram blew up.

Right. Because of this car. But it's literally the first car you ever built. It was the beginning of everything I guess. I modded cars.

My first car I got before I had a license. And I worked on it in the backyard until I could drive. And then so from that point on been working on cars.

But this was the first one that I ever completely tore down to nothing and then rebuilt the whole thing. And it's significant to me because you didn't work in an automotive shop and you weren't even working in the automotive industry. Tell us what you did or still do, I guess. So, I still do, yeah. I work on computer games. That's my, that's been my career for the last 25 years. And your degree is in graphic...

Graphic Design and Illustration. Okay. And so the schooling led me to doing art in video games. And then video games, just that, that's a nice career.

But I also grew up, I loved cars. I always had Hot Wheels and, you know, my dad was a car salesman when I was growing up. And he's kind of a gear head, as well. So, when I went into college, I remember on the Freshman seminar day, they asked you like, what do you want to do, which is such a scary thing anyway when you're a kid trying to figure out, what am I going to do with my life. I wanted to design cars but they didn't have any courses like that, but they did have courses on the computer, and so I went into illustration. So yeah, I was in my forties and got this thing built and it went so well, that I wound up getting invited to go to be in Toyo's booth at SEMA, which was a surprise. And then the car just exploded on the internet and everything. And so it kind of, it it kind of took off.

And you have a massive following on Instagram. Right. You've had, what, celebrities try and offer to buy this car. Right. Right.

I mean you had, this car is putting you on the map and making you think, like you said. Yeah. If I'm ever going to do something different...

Yeah. Surely this is, I can make a career of this. Right, yep. So well, I was still unsure. Then I built my second car, the GT40 and that one was kind of like, can I keep, am I still that inspired, am I still that excited about it? Is it just sort of a phase, or you know. And it was just, I just got even more into it. So, you built this in a little garage. Two car garage, yeah.

And, here we are in the brand new Ruffian Cars shop. Mm-hmm. I have three employees. That's crazy. So yeah, starting over from the very beginnings, yeah. Are you gonna spec build your next cars or do you have clients already? No, so the thought was maybe we can just build cars that we're passionate about, and we're excited about, and then just sell them. Yeah.

It's not the norm, but you know I hired people that are really passionate about building cars. They all have their own car projects, which was part of, you know, part of the thing I was looking for. You know, I want them to help make these even better than I can do on my own.

Well, I wanna, my brain is going a thousand miles an hour because the GT40 is sitting over there. I mean, this is such an eclectic, crazy collection. Right. I want to talk about this car.

I loved muscle cars growing up. And the thought was, build a Trans Am car for the street that I could drive around town. And so, I built this to those specs and then I also found internet forums where guys own the real cars and they race them, vintage racing and stuff. And they were so awesome. Like, they talked to me, answered my questions and stuff.

It's still carbureted. You know, I could have run fuel injection on it. But it would have gone away from the Trans Am experience, right? Everything needs to be manual and you need to feel. You know, nothing computer or that sort of thing. And you've been autocrossing for a couple of decades now.

Yeah, yeah. I built this to autocross because that's the thing that I do. So, it's not really a big-track car. It's a low-speed, high-grip, lots of fast steering, you know.

You're pretty much in, what, first, second gear the whole time and that's it? Second gear usually, yeah. You shift out of first, after like the first turn and then the whole thing's in second gear, so. It also made sense it's a 427 cubic inch motor, right, so it makes a lot of torque. Take me straight to this LS3. A totally.. did you guys hear that? This is not conventional choice for a Mustang. Yeah, I uh...

Well one, I was on a budget. And then two, I wanted to I wanted it to be as fast as it could be for as cheap as it could be, right? So it's an LS3, it's aluminum block so it's light. Still a cam-in-block so it's kind of old school design.

I know it's a newer motor, but it's the old school design, right? Which I had to do in order to fit it in between the shock towers. Motor sits lower, farther back than it did when it was stock. Okay.

So, I need sort of big block cubes, but I don't want big block weight in the front of the car because it would just push, it would plow, right? So like, the car looks really cool but it's built for functionality, like a hundred percent. It has fender flares, yes, the fender flares look cool, but the fender flares allow me to run big, fat tires which is important for autocrossing. Tell me about your carb setup. So, it originally had a, just a normal 850 Holley that was on there and it's just a real standard scenario but I had problems with it stalling whenever I would brake really hard. So, this is a quick-fuel carburetor. It's an annular style. It likes it, and I can brake as hard as I want, it doesn't stall.

And it's a lot quicker throttle response. This just atomizes better and it just delivers that fuel faster? Yeah, so the annular Venturis, they've pushed fuel out and sort of all around a circle instead of one point. So, your fenders are so sick.

Thanks, yeah. Oh my gosh, okay. These are steel. Yeah.

And you did these yourself. Right. And I had to learn how to use the planishing hammer and the English wheel to do those. The fenders, the front spoiler, the vents, all this stuff, it's all, it's all steel body.

I don't instinctively know that you raked this down a little but show me what you did. If we take a pie slice from here. You think of Pac-Man's mouth. Right, okay. So the pie slice from up here.

Yes. Down to here. Yes. And at the end of that pie slice here it's over an inch.

Okay. And then I cut it all the way across here and then the whole thing, the whole thing bends down an inch. I see. So, if you look at a side profile of a 1970 Mustang, the front fender, the body line is almost perfectly straight across.

Okay. And then if you look at my car, the side profile or the old Trans Am race cars, this is where they were cheating. Because the nose bends down, so you got less wind resistance.

Once the car is assembled, you don't, you have no idea. Yeah. But it's there. It makes a difference. What did you do there? Are those stickers, those murals? No, I painted it.

Like no big deal. I just design video games, cars. I paint murals. Yeah. Well that's the thing people come over and they ask about it

and then they get so surprised that I'm almost like, half offended. I'm like, well I built this this whole thing, and you're impressed by that mural. Like, but what about this? Okay, so you got your fuel cell.

How much, how many gallons is this? A 20-gallon fuel cell. Okay. So, it's pretty big. Factory fuel tank was 16 gallons, so this is bigger than factory. But you know the

race cars, they were doing long distance races. So, they had bigger fuel capacities. So tell me what you've got going on right here. So, this is the Watts link.

Okay. So, part of one end is connected to the rear axle, and then it goes through this pivot that's in the center. Okay. And that pivot's mounted to the chassis and then the other arm goes to the other part of the axle, so it's it's mounted to the chassis in the middle. And then these arms, one's high one's low, because this pivot, as the rear axle goes up and down, this turnbuckle, it pivots. The idea is that the rear axle goes up and down very straight.

As opposed to a panhard bar, it has a radius to it. Right. What kind of gear and axle do you have going on? It's just a Ford 9" housing. The third member is out of a NASCAR take-off. So, it's got a big Daytona. Oh, he's not messing around. Daytona bearing and extra oil channels and stuff in there.

But it's a 4.11 to 1 ratio in the rear and a Torsen Differentials. Okay, so here's your exhaust. Right, so I actually run mufflers for the street, but I want to be able to bypass the mufflers when I'm racing. Your six speed transmission. Yes, it's a T56 Super Magnum out of a newer Camaro SS.

So, your front suspension. Yeah, it's the same design, basic design as what Ford did. But, if you notice, like, these end links and stuff, it's all Heim jointed. There's no rubber bushings anywhere in the

in the suspension front or rear. It's all Heim jointed. The suspension is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. The shocks are absorbing. It's not like rubber bushings are doing the absorbing. Right? You want the parts designed to do the work, to do the work. Back in the day, Shelby did what they did what they call a Shelby Drop where they lowered the control arms an inch. And then that just gave you more negative camber when you were in a corner.

Because the upper control arms basically, you've tilted them down so then when the suspension goes up, they're they're pulling in but because of the radius. If you, like, watch the movie "Bullet", right, and you see the car going around the corner, it's like the wheels tucking under the car. Yeah. Right? We want the wheel to actually flex outwards so that the tire stays flat on the pavement.

So, the Shelby Drop is part of that. So, like, when they were running Trans Am, they were running like three degrees of negative camber. But on this, I'm running like one and a half.

Okay. So, the Shelby Drop is kind of one of those, the least expensive upgrades. If you had a stock Mustang... Yeah. ...that you can do...

Yeah. improve that handling. Yeah. You can buy or even just download templates, and cut. It doesn't cost anything, right? You're just drilling four holes. Yeah.

And lowering it. Literally marking new holes, drilling them and then changing the bolts. So, um, did you build these? Yeah, so, this is all part of the bodywork that I built. This is the front spoiler and it's just, you're trying to keep air out from under the car. So, it's built in steel. And actually you can see these blocks here.

You can tell that I added those. And that's part of the one inch drop that happened above. It trickles down to everything. The bumper mounts, the headlight mounts, the front valence. Everything had to be dropped down an inch in order to bolt it all back together. Like a can of worms when you start doing that.

It is. It was definitely, I knew about it, right? And I knew what they did, but I didn't know. Nobody has a list of like, here's all the things you're going to have to do. You're gonna go down that path and you're gonna commit.

Right. When you start doing that. Yeah, exactly. Huh. Just a little cotter pin there? Oh.

Got it. Okay, hold on. Oh, my gosh. His hips are smaller than mine. Hold on, I got this. Alright. Got it. So just give it a tug?

Ooh. Okay. Isn't this kind of a Dodge thing? It is! What the? It is. But it's super cool, right? It's okay. Everybody's gonna get over it. They're gonna get over it. Yeah, yeah.

Okay, so your Accusump. Is that because of the changes going back and forth? Especially with tires like these. You're gonna get so much lateral grip, that even though we have a baffled oil pan with an oil trap in it, if you corner for too long, that oil can push away from the pickup. So, if you lose oil pressure, this is two quarts of oil that can be pushed into the system. But this is the old school way of doing it.

Look at this. They sell, like fancy, you know, label makers, but you had to get the kind, the old school with the wheel. Right.

Pinch it. Instead of mileage on race cars, you check hours on race cars, so we've got 66 hours on the car of actual like run time. Wow. Has anybody ever driven this besides you? So, I've had a couple friends, couple times couple friends drove the car on the street. No one's ever, no one else has ever raced it.

So, you get to be, you get to be the first one to drive it in anger. In anger. Yeah. Dude. When I am angry, I actually do drive better. There's so much to look at.

You changed your wheels. These are... Right. These are your racing setups. Yeah, this is for race day tomorrow, yeah. These are racing, this is your racing setup.

This is as fast as this car is gonna get like Hoosier slicks autocrossing tires are are no joke. These are 11s up front. These are 315s and you can see how much the Hoosiers are really wide. They fit past the lip of the tire. And then in the rear, we're running 345s and those are 13" rims back there. These are Wilwood brakes front and rear but if we put even bigger brakes on here, it would just be...

Weight. ...extra weight. You know, unsprung weight on the front of the car. So, I didn't want that. So these are, you know more than what we need really for autocrossing. It's got a G-force meter inside of the car and so an accelerometer. It monitors the throttle, it monitors the brakes, it knows what you're doing on the car. You can stiffen it where you, it automatically is stiffening and softening.

Right, so when we autocross and you go left right through the slaloms, the G-force meter senses that and then it stiffens the outside shocks. Do you know how intimidated I am by this whole process? I can't imagine somebody that... I've driven a lot of things. Right? Yes. But this is, remember this show is called "Detour" and I'm going to do things that are different, detour from what I normally do.

Yeah, yeah. But I have to admit that this is a very intimidating car. What was your time? There you go.

64. Good job. 64.1 and clean. That was really clean. Yeah.

And you didn't fishtail it or well, a little tiny bit back there. Yeah. But you you stayed in and kept it. And then I noticed in that turn, positioning into it, you you feathered it a little more instead of... Yeah.

You know, just to control that speed. Dial it back just a little bit and then you can run smoother. Yeah, you can keep your suspension set without having to coast or anything.

Yeah. Good job. Wow. Wow. That was incredible. You got it. Okay. Oh my gosh. Okay. Just,

get to know the course. If you spin, clutch in and brake. Okay. So they say both both feet, right? Clutch and brake. Yep, yep. The time starts when you cross that camera.

Okay, we're just getting to know the course, Nicole. Just drive the course. The tires will be a little bit cold.

Brakes. Yep. Clutch in. [Laughing] That's one way to do it! [Laughing] Oh, no. Dang it, dang it.

Okay, well, we get style points. Yeah, you do. That was amazing. 76 and a DNF. Yeah. You do really well in the first half. And then lose it after that.

And then it's like you start to get really excited and you just start to go for it, and you overcook everything. Just smooth it out. Just relax a little bit. Okay. And a lot of times slower is faster out here. Okay.

Well, and just understanding how much power this has and what the brakes feel like. There's a whole learning curve. Okay. No cones, Nicole.

Okay. Slow is fast. Look at the next one. Look at the next one. Two 90s. You got it. How 'bout that? Yeah.

Okay, so. Whoa, look at that! 68. Wow.

68 and a half. Did I hit any cones? No, clean, clean. Now I have to figure out where I can pick up speed.

Look at your next one. Next one. That tricky one. Wait for this one. More gas. Go a little bit faster. Yes. Two 90s.

Getting faster every time. Wow. Good. Knocking them down. [Screaming] [Laughing] This is a massive adrenaline rush. Wow.

Look at the next one. That tricky one. There you go. Right right right right right. Brakes, brakes.

Ha ha! You get it? I did it? You didn't, you cleared it. 66.3 I cleared it? Yeah. Wow. Good job. Wow. Wow! That was so much fun. Wow, that is a huge adrenaline rush.

So cool. 66, low 60s, I mean 66 is quick out here, so you can feel really good about that. Whoo good.

My word. There we go. Chris Ashton. This autocross experience was awesome. I can't believe that you actually let me come out here and drive the Ruffian Mustang. Yeah? I had fun.

I was honored. How'd I do? It was my honor. It was super cool to see somebody throw my car around. And I think you did amazing. You can drive any of my stuff anytime. Well, thank you. You know what? It's really about setting your own goals and being the best you can be every single time. Let me know how you guys think I did today.

Chris Ashton. Ruffian Cars. Like and subscribe, and we will catch you guys next time. This show is a ton of hours to produce and we could use your support. Go to or

check out our merchandise Ready? Ready? Ready? This place is so cool. And we're gonna do this again. I'm not doing this. I'm not. I'm not. Your steering wheel's upside down, bro.

Can't have that. Remind me to stand up. Sometimes I slouch. Okay, cuz I'm. Can we please go drive this car? You bet. Did you know that they say that if you can hang for at least a minute, it's really good for you as you get older? No, I'm not ready now, see? Just when you think I'm ready.

2022-08-28 01:17

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