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.
Initially Royce spent a good amount of time with various shades of paint and a detail airb
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.
Weber IDAs were the trick thing back in the day and with modern EFI snuck inside, Royce Gl
To shoe this old horse, Royce employed his pal Mike Curtis for the wheel design. Curtis’ input in the project was the result of several other collaborations, cementing a friendship and respect that made working together much more than just hiring a wheel guy. Historic mini-lites were the inspiration for the rims and Royce told PHR just how much effort went into making them look perfect on the car. “You can’t just take a 15-inch wheel and stretch it into an 18-inch wheel. It doesn’t look right. So we added some details to make the spokes look the way we wanted them to look. Also, those are real knock-offs.”
Royce wanted the interior to be unique and utilitarian without being too Spartan or cliché. Big demands like that called for the skills of cloth-master P-Jays Auto Upholstery in Denver. In place of the typical all-leather seats, P-Jays covered the saddles in Hartz cloth, aka convertible top cloth. “The seats are out of an M-series BMW, and I wanted to do something with the pleats like the old Mustangs had, but I wanted it to be more of a modern-looking fabric.” With so much attention given to showing off some parts of the interior, it’s easy to overlook the time spent hiding some things like the stereo. “It’s hard to find a stereo that’s anything but a black rectangle, so styling-wise they’re hard to coordinate if you’re doing something kind of unique. The stereo is mounted inside the dashboard, and I had an umbilical cord attached to the removable front on the stereo so the controls for the stereo are in a little pocket along the side of the console.”
In a nod to the GT-40 of old, this oats burner had a set of all-black Classic Instruments custom gauges built with a ’60s theme in mind. After a weekend at a car show ogling a Ferrari with a yellow tach and falling in love, Peratt from Pinkee’s emailed Royce requesting that if he had just one thing to control on the car, it would be the addition of a yellow tach. Royce relented and once he saw it in the car he knew it was exactly the right choice.
Keeping this pony hooked up and on the trail with the lateral traction he was looking for involved a little searching for the right parts. “We asked several people when we were building this thing and they all kind of pointed us to [Chris Alston] Total Control Products. I think now there is some more stuff out there for the Mustangs but two years ago there was lots of stuff out there for Camaros and things, but Mustangs were sort of the stepchild.” Using all the Chris Alston chassis goodies plus adding another stiffening rail between the front and rear made the car handle as good as anything on the road. To complement the package, he had the flow rate of the power steering pump matched to the rack-and-pinion, engine speed, and expected driving habits.
Instead of oats powering the car, a 427 Windsor from Smeding Performance added some beans to the mix. The small-block sports a quad-downdraft look, but has modern guts. Eight-stack Injection recently took over the Weber-esque EFI program from Dynatek, and have proceeded to really make it their own by updating the software and going full bore on customer service. “I worked through the prototype phase with 8-stack, but now I think they’ve got their system working really great now. They’ve got the software, the sensors, the computer, and the throttle bodies, the whole works.” Using an MSD distributor with the advance locked out provides not only perfect timing, but tells the EFI when to squirt more oat juice into the stacks.
When the car was done, Royce was more than happy with the horse’s gait. “I’ve never driven anything as nutty as that thing. Those old Mustangs were pretty flimsy, which is a problem when you’re trying to get the bodies nice and flat but I tell you, it makes a real nice lightweight package. With the extra reinforcing we did on it, the thing just doesn’t even feel like it has any inertia. That engine is so much more powerful than the weight of the car, when you lean into it, it feels like you’re on a shingle with a rocket tied to your ass.” With that kind of a horse at the end of his reigns, when Royce kicks his spurs on this beast it not only smokes oats, but every other hombre in town.
With all the amenities and comfort of a new car, Royce has put quite a few miles on the po
By The Numbers
1966 Ford Mustang
Royce Glader, Fort Collins, CO
Type: Ford 427 Windsor
Induction: 8-stack EFI
Ignition: MSD billet distributor, coil, and plug wires
Rear-wheel horsepower: 465 at 5,700 rpm
Rear-wheel torque: 460 at 5,000 rpm
Built by: Smeding Performance
Transmission: Tremec TKO 600 with B&M Shifter
Rear axle: Ford 9-inch with 3.73 gears
Front suspension: Chris Alston TCP System with 2-inch drop spindles, Alston coilover shocks
Rear suspension: Chris Alston TCP rear springs, VariShocks
Brakes: Baer six-piston calipers with 13-inch rotors
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Curtis Speed custom 17-inch front, 18-inch rear
Tires: Michelin 235/35R17, front; 275/35R18, rear