Accompanying image for Kelly-Moss & Ringbrothers are Jewels in the Rusty Belt


Kelly-Moss & Ringbrothers are Jewels in the Rusty Belt

Southern California gets the attention, but there are world-class builders in your backyard

Thumb picture SVT_MAN - Jan 27, 2018


When most car enthusiasts think of custom car builders, the first builders that typically come to mind are those located in Southern California.

That isn't to say that's wrong.  Quite the contrary.  Custom car building and the Golden State do seem made for each other. Maybe it has something to do with the obscene levels of sunshine that produce car-friendly weather and a picturesque setting?  Yeah, could be that.

Regardless of the reason though, we do know some big names from Southern California.

The Players

Let's start with Foose.  Chip Foose is the practically the definition of California-cool and a master at re-imagining a vehicle design in a way that is distinctly different yet somehow faithful and consistent to the original design ethos. 

And Moal?  Well, they seem to practice the art of Coachbuilding to such a high standard I wonder why anyone would argue that Coachbuilding is a lost art.

And what about West Coast Customs?  Some of you might groan - but, well, they basically need no introduction considering the widespread fame they received during the six seasons they were featured on MTV's Pimp My Ride.  When your car builder brand is known by people who aren't car enthusiasts, that's a pretty good indication that you're doing something right.

So it's obvious that California has some big players that are both famous and good at what they do in their own right.  (And these three are just the beginning of the list ... )

But what about car builders from other areas of the country?  Are there any worth mentioning?

You can probably guess where this is going.  Or maybe not.

Hooning on Frozen Lake X

Thumb hoonigan logoI recently came across a video on Hoonigan of Will Roegge and Larry Chen absolutely hooning a custom 964 Porsche on a frozen lake.  As I continued on in the video, something about the lake seemed eerily familiar in a way that I couldn't quite place.  But it tugged at me enough that I looked around in the comments to figure out where they were hooning. 

Then I it hit me:  They were hooning the Porsche on Lake Koshkonong! 

To many of you, you're probably unsure of why this is exciting.  To many of you, Koshkonong is probably just an obscure Indian name that you don't know how to pronounce. 

But, to me: Koshkonong is home. 

Well, basically ... almost.   As in, Koshkonong is less than 20 miles from my residence.  So that explained why it looked so familiar.  And to be sure, this video's local origins in the southern Wisconsin region of the Rusty Belt really had me excited on its own.

But it also led me to this question: why would a car builder - probably from California (right?) - bring this awesome Porsche 964 all the way to the frozen tundras of Wisconsin during the winter?   (Outside of the also plausible reason that ice racing is kind of awesome.) 

Well, that was my blunder now wasn't it?  Why did I assume this car was built in California? 

After a bit a research, I actually discovered that this video was not only shot locally, but the builder was home-grown too.  And this builder's hyphenated name strikes fear in the grittiest competitors out there:

Kelly-Moss Road and Race

Haven't heard of them, you say?  Well, you need to read up on Kelly-Moss, I guess. 

But I'll give you a Cliff's Notes version. 

(Editor's Note: Kelly-Moss made us aware via Facebook that the 964 Porsche is available for auction at VICCI Auctions if you're interested in owning it!  Here's the direct link: 1991 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 on VICCI )    

Sometimes fresh.  Sometimes frozen.   Usually Porsche.

Kelly-Moss Road and Race are very well known up here in the Midwest for their racing Porsches.  They don't always take their Porsches on frozen lakes, but I guess they did for Hoonigan.

Thumb logo color 2xBut whether they're on a frozen lake or not, they're good at what they do - no, not good - really good!  I mean, when you win the first race you enter (in this case, the 1989 IMSA Firestone Firehawk race at Road Atlanta), your competitors tend to take notice.

So Kelly-Moss is one of those examples of a truly world-class car builder right in southern Wisconsin.  And that's why they're getting the nod of recognition from me today. 

But are there any others?

Believe it or not, even though Wisconsin is mostly known for our cheese, beer, and the Green Bay Packers, the answer is a resounding ... yes! 

A Diamond in the Green.  Spring Green, that is.

Thumb ringbrothers logoThis one you probably know - even though you might not know that you know. 

This Spring Green, Wisconsin-based company is a name you simply can't escape at car enthusiast gatherings across the country, but in particular at SEMA lately. 

That's right - it's the Ringbrothers.  

Ringbrothers work speaks for itself, but did you realize the humble roots of what they do?  I mean, the guys run a collision and repair facility to pay the bills. 

But their real passion is those one or two amazing builds you probably see at your local show or SEMA each year.

Call 'em out!

So what's the point of all this?  Well, nothing profound,  I assure you.

But my point is that knowing where something is built matters.  It simply does. 

Humans are extremely interested in their ancestral heritage.  Shouldn't we care about where a car's fabrication happened?

Maybe it was built by a famous builder in California.  Or maybe ... it wasn't.  Maybe it was built right in your own backyard!

Do you know a car builder in your backyard who should be world-famous, but isn't yet?  Well, lucky for you, you've got this great platform to tell us about them.

Call 'em out in the comments!



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