It’s not a home-built car like a home-built car. And it’s no coincidence that the cars in the photos look like a video game. Their creator is American game developer Chris Ashton.
“As human beings, we have to use our hands. There is a desire to create something within us. Today, however, we are constantly moving towards automation and digitalization. That’s why it satisfies me so much, “ says Chris Ashton about building cars he dubs Ruffians, which could be translated as Surovians or Hooligans. Chris is co-founder and design director at Turtle Rock Studios, which offers games such as Counter-Strike, Evolve Stage 2 and Left 4 Dead.
Because he spent a large part of his life in front of the computer, he also wanted to create something physical, tangible. The direction of his work was greatly influenced by his 25-year love of American autocross racing between cones in paved areas such as parking lots or airports. “I was very lucky that the management of the software company managed to make money. I also owned many cars, like the BAC Mono, the Mercedes-AMG GT R, the McLaren 720S or the Lamborghini Gallardo Performante. However, I got to the point where I no longer wanted to buy cars, I wanted to build them. But not to sell them. I wanted to build something that belonged only to me and that I could enjoy .”
Chris started building cars in his garage in Orange County, California. “I had absolutely no experience building cars. Of course, when I was growing up, I was working on my own cars – in that regard, I was an ordinary teenager buying rotten cars, and when it inevitably fell into breakdown, he gradually learned to stack them. When I was a little older, I had a better job, which meant better cars. And I wanted to make it even faster. As my business was growing up, I had money to buy tools, which led to me building cars.”
Inspired by the historic Trans-Ams and Mustangs of the 1970s, Chris bought the 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback. capable of being used in his favorite American autocross. With a dose of patience, curiosity and several YouTube videos, he created a uniquely styled car, which Ruffian calls it.
The planned race required wide tires with excellent cornering grip. The shoes thus became the basis of the whole construction. Toyo R888R circuit tires are used, which are 312 millimeters wide on the front wheels and 345 mm on the rear wheels. It also required wider fenders, which Chris handcrafted from steel. Like the old racing Mustangs, he then decided to adjust the front of the car, which aimed to improve its handling, but at the same time considerably reduced the choice of engine. Under the front hood, therefore, Chevrolet’s LS427 small-block carburetor works. The seven-liter eight-cylinder fork with aluminum block produces 466 kW (634 hp) and about 760 Nm. The exhaust outlets then appear on the side of the car, under the driver’s door.
Plenty of vents in the bodywork help – with cooling and no guesswork – whether on the hood, outside the headlights, behind the front wheels or in front of the rear. Access to the interior is then facilitated by the safety part of the cage, which is fixed to the hinge. Chris just thought of the details. It’s no wonder, then, that his green Mustang was coveted by a host of wealthy people, including sheikhs, rappers and NBA players. But because Chris spent three years building it, and it’s a purely personal matter for him, he didn’t sell the car. On the contrary, he embarked on the construction of another.
The basis in this case was a replica of a Ford GT40 MkI from the American company Superformance LLC. It delivers its cars without a powertrain, so that the customer can choose the one that suits him best. Chris decided to install a Ford Racing Aluminator 52XS engine, a hand-built naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8. Its power reaches 432 kW (588 hp) and its torque peaks at 603 Nm. And while Chris was building an analog road using old-school methods when building the Mustang, he chose a slightly more modern solution for the GT40. This is also evidenced by the drive unit used.
Chris was helped with the design by a concept artist, whom he connected with on Instagram. Based on a digital sketch, Chris then created carbon molds to create new fiberglass body parts. Details of his obsession with headlights, for example, which he spent as much time on as he did on the entire Mustang body. Chris didn’t like the basic lights and wasn’t happy with any other solution on the market. So he bought an expensive handheld 3D scanner to focus on the headlight body. He then created his own lighthouse design on the computer and made it on a 3D printer. The light sources themselves then come from Harley Davidson.
But even the GT40 doesn’t stop at Chris. And after? He is reportedly considering up to eight more road cars, which will be built for racing use. The first of the line is the 1964 Ford Galaxy. This Ruffian is to be optimized for large racing circuits, including sophisticated aerodynamics or 335 mm wide tires on both axles.