"Everybody kept calling it...
"Everybody kept calling it `Ron's Roadster,' and eventually it got shortened to just Ronster. To the best of my knowledge, the Ronster was one of the first street rod Mustangs."
MM: Tell us how you helped come up with the term "restomod."
Ron: Petersen Publishing had a magazine called Mustang & Fords. In the early 1990s, the editor, Jim Smart, called and said he was kicking around names to describe restored/modified cars because "modified" had such a bad connotation, especially on the west coast. We batted a bunch of names around, including restomod, restification, and others. I don't remember who said restomod first - probably Jim - and we eventually agreed that it sounded pretty good. It was easy to say and write, plus it described cars that were restored and modified. I told Jim if he started using it in the magazine we'd start using it in our advertising. It took off from there.
MM: Later, it took on an additional meaning when owners started adding modern equipment to their cars...
Ron: At that point it became "restored and modernized." Many of the Mustangs out there are restomods and the owners don't even realize it. They've taken, let's say, a plain-Jane coupe and maybe they've left it stock-looking but they've put in a newer stereo with a CD changer, changed to radial tires, added disc brakes for safety, and swapped in a bigger radiator. They've done a lot of things to the car to make it more personal. But the car still looks original. That's what restoring and modernizing is all about. That's a restomod.
The term is going to evolve to mean whatever people want it to mean. But in the Mustang community, it's mainly '65-'73 cars with parts that have been taken from later model vehicles to improve them - fuel-injected engines, 5-speeds, AODs, power windows, and all the things we take for granted in new cars. When you put them into a 40-45 year old car, it makes them more modernized. If you've put the car through the restoration process, that makes it a restomod.
"We built a replica of the'68...
"We built a replica of the'68 Bullitt fastback and I'm going to say that 98 percent of the parts are aftermarket or from our catalog."
I'd like to take a moment to point out that while a lot of people look at me as the restomod guy, I also have many cars that are restored to original and they will always be that way. I like them all. It's just that the restomod segment has allowed us to grow. We sell original parts also. But restomod is what we're best known for.
MM: Something else people may not know about you is that you're now involved with the Mustang Club of America, a club recognized for its concours standards.
Ron: I was elected to the MCA board of directors in 2006 and have served ever since. I'm treasurer this year. It's a great organization that everybody who loves Mustangs should think about joining. You know, you have your local clubs that support local interests and offer relationships with other Mustang owners in your community. They also allow you to do charitable work and stuff like that. The MCA is a step above that because of its ties with people all around the world. Ford uses the MCA for feedback and ideas. In March 2008, I was part of a 10-person group to go look at the 2010 Mustang and give impressions.
MM: Were you involved in creating the MCA's restomod class?
Ron: The MCA came to us several years ago and asked about creating a class. The judges and officers had noticed the restomod trend and were looking to make it part of the MCA. I attended a couple of judges meetings, but pretty much tried to stay out of it because I didn't want anyone to feel that we had pushed the MCA to create a class for those cars. I just don't believe in using clubs in that manner. So I lent as much technical help as I could.
Basically the MCA and its judges were the ones who came up with the idea for the class. They had the modified class, but they were doing it on a point system where you got points for modifications, while people with restomods might have a totally stock car except for a fuel-injected motor and a 5-speed. At that point, they didn't have enough modifications to perform well in the modified class. They really needed something where people who built restomods could take them out and show them.