Ruffian Mustang: How a Counter-Strike Designer Built a Widebody 1970 ‘Stang Everybody Knows

Unless you’ve been deliberately avoiding shooters over the past two decades, you’re familiar with Counter-Strike, which went from a promising Half-Life mod to one of the most popular games of all time. And so does Chris Ashton, who has designed textures, maps, and more for the game. However, here on Carvibz we prefer to focus on the books the American has read and written, or at least two of them: a classic Ford guide on how to convert a road-going Mustang into a racecar and the Ruffian Mustang Build Book he released after putting that old guide to good use by creating a custom 1970 ‘Stang that seems to be on everybody’s lips.

After three decades of getting greasy underneath cars and twenty years of racing them with a fetish for autocross, Ashton, who also happens to be the co-owner of the Turtle Rock Studios game developer (Left for Dead, Evolve), Ashton acquired a particular taste. And, a few years ago, he decided to materialize his vision into what would become his first major build, the Ruffian Mustang.

The vehicle, whose name was borrowed from a racehorse from back in the day and is also slang for “troublemaker”, debuted at the 2019 SEMA show.

And, regardless of one’s automotive preferences, there’s just something that catches the eye when gazing at the home-brewed 1970 Ford Mustang this enthusiast put together.

I’ve seen the build on social media multiple times, as it can be labeled as an automotive celebrity on the Internet (you can always find it over on Instagram @macmaninfi). At first, I felt that I couldn’t quite put my click on what made it so special, so I decided to give it a more thorough look, and here we are—I have to admit that my colleague Mihnea writing about Ashton’s second build earlier this month (the carbon widebody beast that is the Ruffian Ford GT40) also determined me to zoom in on the builder’s Mustang.

Put together in the aficionado’s shop in California, the Ruffian Mustang started with a non-special 1970 model. Inspired by Trans Am racecars from five decades ago, the man set out to create a street machine that would be ideal for the said low- and medium-speed autocross events.

Thus, the massively wide Toyo tires (345/30/19 at the rear and 315/30/18 up front) are wrapped around Signature ONE wheels. And covering them are steel fender flares, while that vertical wickerbill at the back, which is secured via rods, is made from aluminum.

The front end has been dropped by one inch, with the wings adapted, while the air dam we find here is also the fruit of skillful fabrication.

No Coyote V8 here

All the intakes and vents you see on the car are functional (e.g. the side ones on the front fascia or the 1969-borrowed bits on the quarter panels), while the side exhausts come with cutouts that allow the not-a-Ford-V8 to fully express itself.

If you thought “LS swap” while reading the paragraph above, you were right. Now, as Ashton explains in the first clip below, he wanted to go with a Coyote—this is a N/A build—but the width of the DOHC modern motor meant he would’ve had to cut the strut towers, which would’ve ruined the under-hood classic look.

As such, the man went for a BluePrint Engine 427 ci (7.0L) stroker LS3, which now sits 2 inches further back and 1 inch lower than the factory motor. The V8 delivers 625 hp and 550 lb-ft (746 Nm) of torque in carburetted form.

I still wanted it to feel like an old muscle car when I drive it,” the builder states in the clip.

The same reason sits behind the rear axle still being the live kind, albeit with performance coilovers having been installed.

A bit of Mopar and a splash of Porsche on the Ruffian Mustang

Notice that I didn’t mention the gearbox until reaching the interior chapter of the story. And that’s because the Tremec T56 Super Magnum is linked to the driver’s right hand via a pistol grip shifter that adds a Mopar touch to the cabin. And if this sounds wild, I wonder what traditionalists think of the late 1970s Porsche Olive Green hue covering the exterior (they could at least try to find comfort in the period-correct nature of the color).

The interior is just as minimalist as you’d expect it to, while packing some NASCAR inspiration (i.e. hosting the fuel lines), along with a monstrous roll cage. The back seat is no more, with its place having been taken by electronics and an Accusump oil accumulator (a more simple way of keeping your engine fully lubricated at all times compared to a dry sump).

As for the trunk, this holds an oil cooler and a 20-gallon fuel cell, so I’m gonna go out on a limb here and bet the enthusiast likes to travel light when using the Ruffian Mustang.

Ashton doesn’t build cars to sell them. Instead, he wants to fill up his garage with contraptions that are perfectly tailored to his needs—and, judging by their popularity, it seems they also cater to many other aficionados’ tastes.

And you’ll get to see some of his future creations in the first video below (lens tip to Toyo)—the list includes a 1964 Ford Galaxie, a 1969 Corvette, a C2 ‘Vette (not what you expect), and other four-wheeled delights. As for the second clip, this AutotopiaLA shenanigan puts the Ruffian Mustang where it belongs, namely out on the road.



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