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Hoppe Stang
By Larry Edsall

Hoppe Stang Build Books provide how-to guide
When 55-year-old Doug Hoppe was a teenager, he wanted but never got that special Ford Mustang he sought. But Hoppe certainly has that Mustang now. His car, named Reactor, won street machine of the year honors at the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association's 2007 PPG-sponsored Nationals at Columbus, Ohio.

Among the four other finalists that Reactor beat for its top award was a '72 Camaro owned by NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Hoppe is in the farm building construction business in Iowa. Two years ago he saw a sleek black 1967 Mustang called Conan at the Goodguys Nationals and he approached the car's builders, the Ring Brothers from Wisconsin, about building the Mustang of his dreams.

Once Mike and Jim Ring found a donor car, they went to work with Hoppe and California-based designer Sean Smith. It took some nine months and 2000 man-hours in the Ring's shop to create Reactor. While you may not be in a position to duplicate such a vehicle, its build-up can provide ideas to incorporate in your own custom car project.

For example, Hoppe's car has a 427-R Roush Racing engine, Tremac five-speed and heavy duty off-road transmission, Chassisworks Total Control front suspension and a Ford nine-inch rear with Dutchman axles and housing, Air Ride Technologies air bar and airbags, and Eaton's Detroit Locker components. Reactor rides on forged 19-inch wheels with Goodyear F-1 Supercar tires and stops via Baer six-piston brakes with 15-inch discs.

What separates Reactor from other cars, says Mike Ring, is all the one-off machined parts done by Todd Milanowski at Ring Brothers Performance in Spring Green, Wis., which, Mike notes with proud, also was the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mike Ring's advice for people starting out on their own projects is to be aware of the financial commitment. To do a car such as Reactor can involve as much as $100,000 in parts alone.

Next year, the Goodguys street machine competition will include an on-track autocross event to verify that none of the cars are "trailer queens," vehicles built for show but not to go. As the photo shows, Reactor is a real street machine.

The creation of Reactor was being chronicled in the fifth in the Build Book series by hot rod builder Scott and his wife, automotive writer B.J. Killeen, whose previous volumes have featured work by Boyd Coddington, Ken Fenical and Posies, Troy Trepanier and ProRides. For more information on the books, visit For more information on the Ring Brothers, visit For more on the Goodguys, it's

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