A ‘66 Mustang with Some Giddy-Up
Everett’s Body Shop and Towing in Prairie Du Sac, Wis., stables quite a few classic pony cars, but for co-owner Bryan Niles, only one has his heart: a 1966 Mustang convertible.
Niles, 45, bought the California born-and-bred wreck back in 1988. He brought it home, where it spent about 15 years as a work in progress.
“It was in pretty rough shape,” Niles says. “It had some collision damage and it needed a whole, big restoration—motorwise, transmission- and driveline-wise, bodywise.”
Putting the Gallop Back in the Pony
Under the hood is the original 289-cubic-inch, 2-barrel-carburetor V8 engine, paired with an automatic transmission and power steering. Power steering was available as an option in the ’66 and Niles is unsure whether the previous owner added it, or if it came with it. A power convertible top was added during the restoration.
Outside, the show-worthy classic cruiser sports a vintage burgundy body with a new convertible soft top and glass back window. Inside is a restored pony interior that includes a deluxe wood grain steering wheel and instrument cluster, as well as pony embossments on the back seat covers.
“It’s a little more luxury-looking,” he says of the inside. “It gives you a little more plush. It’s still a vinyl interior, of course, but it was quite an option back in those days.”
The restored car has been heaped with praise, winning several awards from local car shows including “Best of Class” in the 2005 Wisconsin Dells Auto Motion event. The car won an award for best paint at the 2002 Peterson Auto Parts Cars for Cause event, and a runner-up award in the 2001 Annual Dells Auto Museum & Northwoods SAAC All Ford Car Show.
When the sweet ’stang isn’t visiting local car shows collecting ribbons, Niles likes to take his ’66 to Mustang Club of America events or just cruise the streets of Prairie du Sac.
Of all the Mustangs Niles could’ve kept, he’s partial to the ’66 because that’s the year he was born and he just loves the older Mustang look.
“My father had an old beater, back when I was about to get my driver’s license, but he sold it to a friend of his,” Niles says.
Niles’ father, Everett Niles, is well acquainted with the Ford sports car. He worked at a Ford collision repair shop when the car made its mid-1964 debut. At the time, the Mustang was a popular car for parents to give to their high school graduates, he says. Not surprisingly, they were frequently wrecked.
“Because they were so fast and so sporty, people just drove the heck out of them at first,” Everett Niles says. The guys at the shop had a lot of fun repairing those Mustangs, he recalls.
“[The Mustang] came off the Falcon chassis, which was around for a few years before that,” he says. “So, it wasn’t like it was a real challenge in the way they were built. We pounded them out pretty fast.”
Everett Niles has owned several Mustangs. He’d buy, fix and sell them, and his son saw all that firsthand.
After spending several years as a collision repairer, Everett Niles started his own place, opening Everett’s Body Shop and Towing in 1971 on property he was renting in Sauk City. Then in 1976, moved the business to the “twin city” of Prairie du Sac to expand.
Bryan Niles joined his father at the shop after he graduated high school. He is now co-owner of the business.