It was a rite of passage that turned Royce Glader into a Ford man. You see, in the neighborhood where he grew up in early ’60s North Dakota, when a boy reached a certain age, the guys in the surrounding blocks—which were comprised of a number of his relatives—lined up a Ford and a Chevy as teaching aids. They taught young Royce how the Ford engine was smaller and lighter but produced excellent power and was therefore more efficient. They showed him the safety features that might save his future family. They pointed out just how much faster the Ford could be. Yeah, there was some bias, but the passion of those elders spilled into the young man, which he has held onto for life.

As Royce moved along in life developing a family and a thriving electrical contracting business, he never swayed from his passion for Fords, building a number of ’20s and ’30s rides along the way. It was that love of Fords and performance that led the 61-year-old to build one of the nicest ’66 Mustangs around. As for its name, Royce claimed it was his father’s doing. “My dad used to always call horses ‘oats burners,’ and I thought it was a common term. So I wanted to do something like ‘oats burners’ for the name but nobody had ever heard the term and it didn’t really roll off the tongue as well as ‘smokin oats,’ so it just kind of popped up from that.”

The old horse began its nag-to-stallion transformation in the middle of 2009 when Royce bought the shell and a few boxes of parts that used to be a Mustang. Hooking up with Eric Peratt of Pinkee’s Rod Shop (Windsor, Colorado) as he had in previous builds was the surest way to produce the vision lurking in Royce’s dreams. The nebulous idea of an aggressive but driveable autocrossing flog-mobile was what they had to work with.

Of course, with every good car comes a good background story, and this one is no different. The modding history of the car began with a guy who tore it apart in the early ’70s. It passed through hands as a project from that guy to a UPS driver, then to another guy who sold it to Royce. Nothing very interesting until Royce brought it to Pinkee’s and as it turns out, our old friend the UPS driver happened to have Pinkee’s on his route and recognized the car. Royce said when he met the UPS driver: “He starts telling me about this guy (the original owner) who is an older guy in failing health and had been trying to restore it for decades and never got around to it. As it was coming along, the UPS driver was taking pictures of it and he got to be friends with the old guy who had owned it before and he got a big kick out of that. So I had some T-shirts designed for the project and I gave them a couple T-shirts when it was done.”

As the early Trans-Am theme was taking shape, Royce was careful to be hands-on in the making. “I spent probably 2,000 hours of my own time on the thing doing stuff like designing the taillight bezels. I made those out of MDF and Bondo to get the look I wanted, then I sent them off to Mike Curtis and he measured it up and did the machining to make the taillights look that way.” Royce was able to match the new taillight spacing to that of a ’69 Mustang so he could integrate the ’69 LED light setup, but with the earlier ’66 lenses. Pinkee’s then subtly split the rear bumper and used the bumper ends to surround the license plate. Steel sculpting wasn’t limited to the rear, as they also hand-rolled and hammered the crease in the hood and matched it to accented air ducts. As a previous winner of the coveted Ridler Award, the Pinkee’s crew knew that it was always those little things that bring up the quality level from pedestrian to world class.