The Ford Galaxie was a clone of the Ford Fairlane, born in an awkward time. It was first built in 1959, at the end of the "classic" car era (think of a '57 Chevy Bel Air), and just as the white trash muscle cars like the Chevrolet Impala (itself a Bel Air variant) were coming on the scene. Then, more so than today, improvements between years were drastic: each year or two, you'd see the lines of your favorite model change suddenly, or the engine would be all-new, or parts that had been steel would be changed to aluminum. It looked like a drive-in, malt shop, poodle skirt car, but it had a real engine under the hood.

Is this the place that I want to be? Is it you who I want to see?
Holding on, hold it high, show me everything...
And you're leaving me, yeah you're leaving me,
you're leaving me with a hated identity!

By 1960, it was already clear what some of the mistakes in the original Galaxie had been: it was trying to be too much to too many people. Now that they were beyond the classic car era, Ford re-styled it to fit the new "muscle car" fad. It was longer, wider, heavier, and was available with a big badass 352 Super V-8 engine. It was, in fact, an inch and a half wider (81.5") than the Federal Highway Standards allowed. 1961 and 1962 Galaxies added and modified the fins on earlier models, and offered still larger engines--up to a 406 V-8 called the "Thunderbird" (despite its inavailability in any of Ford's T-birds). More power, new lines, and a focus on luxury characterized the early 60's Galaxies.

But I keep on a comin' here and standing in this state,
And I'm never really sure if you'll take what I'm saying the right way.
But I'm not appalled or afraid: verbal pocket play
Is as discreet as I can muster up to be...

1963's Galaxie was a classic when it rolled off the line, and "1963-and-a-half" Galaxies are even more cherished. The modular design allowed the buyer to get almost any of Ford's many engines installed, and the narrower body let the engines do their stuff with relatively little impedance. Torque and horsepower junkies snapped up the optional 427 dual 4-barrel carb with 425 HP with good reason: it won 23 Grand National NASCAR races, and all 5 top places at Daytona-- and this was back before NASCAR was the WWF on wheels. 50 Galaxies from this year-group were built with special lightweight features for competition and street racing, making the 4,000-lb. Galaxie a slightly leaner and meaner competitor outside the long oval track. 1964's models were lighter, more powerful, and considered by many to be the sexiest Galaxies ever made. As much as they gush, and despite Shannon Hoon's protests, I really don't see a giant difference between it and the 1963 Cadillac El Dorado. But then, it could be me.

...because the Cadillac that's sittin' in the back,
it isn't me -- Oh, no, no, no it isn't me,
I'm more at home in my Galaxie!

1964 and 1965 saw the transition from side-by-side headlights to stacked headlights, and although the car kept getting lighter, the engine was still big, powerful, and heavy as hell. The lines went from somewhat curved and elongated to an angular shark-like shape, and 1965's model was much wider than 1964. In 1966, the Galaxie reached a shape that I consider to be the most attractive: a slender back reminiscent of the Mustangs I love from the same era, swept-back windshield, and the long flat body I'd expect from a car that I wanted to take across the country. It was the last of the 427 "muscle" Fords, as performance and (gasp!) mileage began to concern American car buyers.

Can I do the things I wanna do
that I don't do because of you?
And I'll take a left
and I'll second guess
into total mess...

Unfortunately, the end of the muscle car era was the beginning of the end for the Galaxie. In 1967, the Galaxie tried to change its stripes. It was a muscle car, but it tried to be a Ford Fairlane again with new luxury options and more conservative stylings. It sold well, but not as well as it had. In 1967, Shannon Hoon, lead singer of Blind Melon, was born. In 1968, Ford stopped offering the 427 V-8 in the Galaxie... and nobody cared. In 1969, man landed on the moon, and the Galaxie got even heavier as it tried to combine hot rod feel with luxury-car appeal; the passenger room was unsurpassed. The Apollo 11 lunar module weighed as much as seven Galaxies from the same year, and only seated two.

...and you're leaving me,
and you're leaving me,
you're leaving me with a hated identity.

Like Elvis Presley, the sleek and powerful Galaxie was getting overweight and rhinestone-studded in the early 70s. Maybe it was the cocaine, the focus on luxury over performance, the sudden popularity of land yachts... as the Galaxie got bigger and was marketed towards the family guy instead of the rip-roaring bachelor, it became less of a car and more of a tank. The focus was on safety, on a quiet ride (and therefore a smaller engine), and on comfort for the many passengers. By 1972, the Galaxie had mutated from a racecar into a Ford that was as big as a whale. No Ford Galaxies were produced in 1972. Shannon Hoon turned 4, and rock and roll was being re-written by Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and bands that gave up that luxury car feeling for muscle-car sound.

No no no no it isn't me!
No no no no it isn't me!
No it isn't me,
in my Galaxie!

In 1995, Blind Melon released "Soup." The opening track, "Galaxie," became the album's second hit single, travelling to #8 on the Billboard charts. Two years later, Shannon Hoon died of a concaine overdose while on tour. In 1995, a Galaxie would have sold for between $5,000 and $10,000, assuming it was in good condition; in 1995, that would have bought between 20 and 50 weeks' worth of cocaine for the average user.


thanks to: Galaxie enthusiasts across the web, Blind Melon fans, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy's report on street prices of illegal drugs.

Ford Galaxie, 1959-1972

The Ford Galaxie was a model of automobile built in the USA by the Ford Motor Company between 1959 and 1972, inclusive. As often is the case with American cars, the model names shifted around from year to year, but the Galaxie was always on that year's Ford full-size platform.

Some Galaxies were high-performance, racing specification machines, a larger forebear to the muscle car era. Others were plain, family sedans.

The Galaxie should not be mistaken for the Ford Galaxy, a modern-era minivan or people-mover.

50s Glamor

1959 saw the introduction of the Galaxie name in Ford's model lineup. That year, the Galaxie range of six models were simply upscale versions of Ford's long-running Ford Fairlane. In keeping with the era, the '59 Galaxie was a chrome- and stainless-bedecked, two-tone glitzy beauty of a vehicle, the very image of late-50s American automobile excess.

Among the models was the Skyliner Retractable, featuring a retractable hardtop that folded down into the trunk space; this feature, impressive but complicated, expensive and leaving very little trunk room when folded down, did not last long. Recently, similar power retractable hardtops have been used by e.g. Mercedes-Benz.

60s Sleek

1960's model was all-new in style, abandoning the ostentatious ornamentation of the 50s for a futuristic, sleek look. There were tailfins still, but smaller ones -- the focus of Ford's stylists abandoning, as did the rest of the industry, the aviation influences of the previous decade and instead capturing the new obsession -- the space race. The Galaxie name was particularly appealing to this trend, it seems.

Hot body style this year was the Starliner, featuring a huge, curving rear observation window on a pillarless, hardtop bodyshell.

The '60 Galaxie was still accompanied by a Fairlane model, but this was its last year as a full-size car.

The 1961 Ford Galaxie was, for the first time, the only full-size car in the Ford lineup. The bodywork was redone again, although the underpinnings were the same as the '60. This time, the tailfins were almost gone; replacing them, two giant circular taillights at each rear corner, glowing like a starship's engines. Ford were definitely going with the space and science-fiction theme, and with successful results; this style of Galaxie is widely regarded as a classic.

A local Galaxie I've seen bears the license surround Galaxie Class Cruiser, which epitomises the sci-fi styling and naming perfectly, I think!

Performance was beginning to be a selling point, and the 61 Galaxie offered a new 390 cubic inch (6.4 litre) version of Ford's FE series pushrod V8, available with either a four-barrel carburetor or, for serious performance, three twin-barrel units. The latter was rated at 400 brake horsepower, making even such a heavy car quite fast indeed.

1962 saw the same body style continue unchanged but for the front grille. A luxury version, the Galaxie 500XL was introduced; performance wasn't ignored either, with an even larger 406 cubic inch (6.7 litre) engine being available, again in triple-carburetted 'six-barrel' form. At the other end of the spectrum, of course, a 'Mileage Maker' 6-cylinder engine was available for the more budget-minded driver.

Ford saw no reason to unduly change a good thing, and the 1963 model was essentially identical in broad detail. There were now three trim levels; plain Galaxie, plusher Galaxie 500 and luxurious Galaxie 500XL.

While not much changed for the everyday buyer, for the performance oriented things were a little different - for partway through this year and in very limited quantities there became available Ford's new racing secret weapon, the 427. This new 7-litre powerplant, designed for performance rather than refinement, was offered to the public simply because racing rules required the use of only engines sold in sufficient numbers in production vehicles. Rated conservatively at 425 horsepower, this engine also featured in Carroll Shelby's final incarnation of the AC Cobra.

1964 was the fourth and final year of this body style. Interior trim was much altered, but externally things stayed the same. Under the hood, one could no longer fit a 406, the 427 engine totally replacing it in the lineup. Ford took the 427-equipped Galaxie to the racetrack in serious fashion in '64, building a number of lightweight, fiberglass-bodied cars just for that purpose. These competed with success not only in North America but also in the United Kingdom. Initial doubts as to their competitiveness in Britain were short-lived; despite their great size and weight compared to the opposition, the Ford 427 engine gave them a competitive power-to-weight ratio and the handling was better than might have been supposed. They were raced in Europe reasonably successfully.

In that year Ford fitted their new engine challenger, the SOHC Ford 427 Cammer, to a handful of Galaxies. Rated at over 600 horsepower, this is possibly the most powerful engine ever fitted to a production car by an American manufacturer. NASCAR changed the rules, however, requiring (instead of hundreds) thousands of production examples in service to qualify for the next season, and Ford decided against producing the Cammer in that quantity. Fears of liability concerns and the bad publicity possibilities in giving the public a car that dangerously powerful are often cited as reasons, but it might simply have been that Ford doubted that an engine so unsuited to street use could sell in such numbers.

Mid 60s

The 1965 Galaxie was an all-new car, featuring vertically stacked dual headlights in what was becoming the fashionable style in a car somewhat taller and bulkier than the previous year's. Aggression was replacing starship-sleek in stylists' minds across all the Detroit Big Three that year.

For the first time since '60, the Galaxie was not the only full-size Ford. The base model in the range was now known as the Ford Custom, reviving a name from Ford's past. The Galaxie 500 and Galaxie 500XL were still available, but the new top-of-the-line designation was the Galaxie 500LTD. Engine choices were the same as '64.

1966 saw a new model, the Galaxie 500 7 Litre, fitted with a new engine, the 428 cubic inch Thunderbird V8. As the name suggests, this engine was also available on the Ford Thunderbird and was a response to a demand for a more docile, tractable 7-litre engine than the racing-built 427. 1966's LTD dropped the Galaxie name, a harbinger of changes to come.

In 1967, the 7 Litre model no longer carried the Galaxie name; it was to be the last year of its being seperately identified. Little else changed except for trim; the same engine range, from 240 cubic inch six to 428 to racing 427, the same styling.

Late 60s to the end

The 1968 model was all-new, with distinctively different styling, reflecting the new trends. A muscle car look was in, with a humped, 'coke-bottle' look over the rear wheels. The 'long hood, short deck' style was followed too, as was the new trend for concealed headlights.

The Galaxie name was only carried now at one trim level, the Galaxie 500, squeezed in between the baseline Ford Custom and the higher-level Ford XL, now missing the Galaxie name. The Ford LTD stayed on as the top full-size model.

1969 saw the end for the Ford Custom (for a while) as well as for the 427 and 428 engines. Replacing it was the new Ford 429 ThunderJet taken from the Ford Thunderbird, part of a new Ford engine family. Power was higher than the 428 and lower than the racing-bred 427. The Galaxie 500 was now the base-model full-size Ford.

Not much changed in 1970; 1971 saw a revamp of the front end, with a more pointed, chrome-edged grille, and a reshift of the lineup. The Custom 500 was back at the low end, the XL was gone, the LTD was still the top of the line model, and the Galaxie 500 was almost as luxurious. The Ford full-size range was rapidly becoming more of a luxury car.

1972 was the last year for the Galaxie; the name was dropped for 1973. The Galaxie 500 was once again the low-end model, the LTD was the middle-range model, and a new LTD Brougham was the top-of-the-line version. Increased pollution controls were beginning to be felt, too, marking the end of the high-performance full-size car in the United States.

Today

The 1961-64 Ford Galaxies are nowadays considered fairly desirable classic cars, though prices are still in 2003 affordable except for the 427-engined cars which command premium prices. The earlier vehicles have a following, as do the 1965-67 vehicles, the 7 Litre in particular. Later Galaxies see little demand.


With help from Dearborn Classics' (a full-size Ford parts catalog) Galaxie history at http://www.dearbornclassics.com/galaxie.html
Note: this writeup is NOT intended to supercede the excellent writeup already under this title, but rather to provide a view from a different angle -- one of the strengths of E2, I think.

The 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop might just be the most elegantly designed car ever produced by Dearborn. It has no fins, and like the Parthenon, there is scarcely a straight line among its powerful, restrained, and graceful curves. Its curves seduce the eye to follow them from one end to the other, the way a hand likes to run along the body of a lover . . . .

I owned one in the early 80s. I inherited it from my grandmother; it was a year older than I am. Some of my earliest memories are of her and that car. It has been scrapped lo! these twenty years--it was my fault. I remember that it had a transister AM radio. You could see one transistor mounted on the case's exterior. It was the size of a quarter. The radio dial had little triangle-in-circle symbols marking civil defense frequencies. The (mechanical) clock spring was kept wound by means of electrical contacts attached to the spring. When the spring unwound, the contacts would meet, electromagnetically snapping the clock spring back into tightness. Time in the car was punctuated by its thudding clicks. The tail lights were crisp round discs with clear centers containing reverse lights. The roof of the car met the top of the rear window after going through a wonderful 180-degree curve, forming a soft lip around the window (the design was bad for racing). On the fenders, on each side of the hood, were fender ornaments with little orbs at the tip: this car's designer really did seek to create the apotheosis of the curve. The front of the hood held the Ford heraldic sign in color, as did the center of the wheel covers and the center of the steering wheel horn ring. It bore a black California license plate with gold lettering.

I have saved a copy of the form accompanying the car from the factory and giving its specifications--it had been sandwiched behind the rear seat springs. It is in the details that the car lives again in my mind, and perhaps in some way for the gentle reader, too.

Specifications.

Serial number: 2J63X179412 (number 79,412 built at the Los Angeles plant)
Model: 65A (2-dr. hdtp Club Victoria)
Paint: T ("Sandshell Beige")
Trim: 34 ("Beige crush--all vinyl")
Date of manufacture: 03V (August 3,1962)
Axle ratio: 1 (3.00:1)
Engine: X (8-cylinder 352 cubic inch (2-barrel))
Transmission: 4 (Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed)
Overall length: 209.30 inches
Overall width: 79.20 inches
Loaded height: 54.80 inches
Unloaded height: 56.80 inches
Wheelbase: 119.00 inches
Tread (front): 61 inches
Tread (rear): 60 inches
Curb weight: 3807 lbs.

Engine:
Compression ratio: 8.9:1
Brake horsepower: 220 @ 4300 rpm
Torque: 336 ft-lbs @ 2600 rpm
Bore and stroke: 4.00 X 3.50 inches
Compression pressure: 180 lbs at 20 revolutions/min.
Taxable horsepower: 51.20
Firing order: 1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8
Valve arrangement: E-I-E-I-I-E-I-E
Engine idle manifold vacuum: 18 inches of mercury at sea level at 450-475 rpm
Oil capacity: 5 quarts
Oil pressure (hot): 35-55 psi

See the photos at:

http://www.lovefords.org/62ford/
http://www.lovefords.org/62ford/galaxie500clubvictoria.htm (Club Victoria 2-door hardtop)
http://www.lovefords.org/62ford/colors.htm (1962 color schemes)

Bibliography.

Chilton's Auto Repair Manual 1954-1963. 1971. Chilton Book Company, Radnor, PA.
Christ, Steve. 1983. How to Rebuild your Big-Block Ford. H.P. Books, Tuscon, AZ.
Ford Motor Company. 1961. 1962 Ford Galaxie Shop Manual. Service Department, Ford Division, Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, MI.
----------. 1962. 1962 Ford Registered Owners Manual. Ford Motor Company, Dearborn MI.
Hall, Phil. 1982. Fearsome Fords 1959-73. Motorbooks International, Osceola, WI.
Huntington, Roger. American Supercar. Development of the Detroit High-Performance Car. H.P. Books, Tucson, AZ.
Langworth, Richard (and the editors of Consumer Guide). 1982. Great Cars from Ford. Castle Books, Secaucus, NJ.

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