Monday, May 16, 2011

1967 Ford Galaxie 500 - A Family Heirloom

1967 Ford Galaxie 500
Photography and text by David W. Temple

The Galaxie nameplate is renowned with Ford enthusiasts. It first appeared at Ford with the creation of a show car dubbed LaGalaxie. (Note the French spelling. Galaxie, in this case, means a collection of brilliant persons or ideas.) Its far-out appearance did not contribute much to the styling of production Fords, but its name made its way onto Ford’s top-of-the-line model in ‘59. It supplanted the Fairlane 500 in the hierarchy about a month after the introduction of the other Fords that model year.
By 1962, the Galaxie became the Galaxie 500; the numerical addition to the name reportedly was to influence the public to more closely associate the car with the 500-mile super-speedways of NASCAR. At the midpoint of the year, the Galaxie 500/XL (supposedly meaning “eXtra Lively”) was added to the line. The sportier model was distinguished with a V-8, bucket seats, and console as standard equipment. During the ‘60s, the Ford Motor Company began a campaign they called “Total Performance.” Winning races on the banked ovals or the drag strips was good advertising because it helped sell the cars. Even if the car that won on Sunday afternoon was powered by a 427 with 500+ horsepower, many customers were happy to have a car with a 289 or 352 because it resembled the one that won the big race. Ford Motor Company put a lot effort into winning and it showed. They did especially well in ‘64 and ‘65, with their NASCAR drivers such as Fred Lorenzen, Marvin Paunch, A. J. Foyt, and Ned Jarrett often taking the checkered flag. Ford’s had success in NHRA competition, too. For example, Bill Hoefer took Junior Stock Eliminator class honors with a light weight ‘65 Galaxie powered by a high-performance 289. The Mopars dominated in USAC competition, however. For ‘66, Ford wanted to pull out all the stops by competing with their monstrous SOHC (single overhead cammer) 427 that produced well over 600 horsepower. NASCAR would not legalize it, however, and Ford dropped out of competition in protest at the mid-point of the season.
Around this time, some independents started competing with the lighter Fairlanes and did well, so Ford officials decided the SOHC was not needed for NASCAR and returned with Fairlanes for their racing teams. The big cars had finally been overtaken by the intermediates and those would carry the performance banner for Ford into 1970, at which time Ford terminated their support for racing programs.
The 1967 Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop featured a sleeker looking roofline than the prior model year's counterpart.
The ‘67 full-size cars actually began with the introduction of the practically all new 1965s because succeeding year models through 1968 were based on this design although major sheet metal updates each year kept the big Fords looking fresh. Ford’s full-size bodies sat atop an all new perimeter frame with coil springs supporting the load front and rear. The 1965 full-size Fords were almost as different from their predecessors as the 1949 Ford was from the ‘48, and were said to be “new from road to roof.” About the only major components carried over were the V-8 engines. Homer LaGassey who came to Ford Motor Company from GM in ’55 was one of the stylists involved in the design of the full-sized 1965-68 Fords. When interviewed for this story, he expressed the opinion that people who bought these cars got a “very good family car” and that Ford “got its monies worth out of the tooling” needed to build them since so many were assembled over the span of years they were offered. He noted that the long wheelbase allowed “us to take the boxy look out of it” in reference to the two-door hardtop’s sweeping roofline. One other important change that year was the addition to the lineup of the luxury oriented Galaxie 500/LTD. For model year 1967, XL was separated from the Galaxie 500 series – it simply became the Ford XL. The same had happened with the LTD the previous year. The big Fords became a bit more rounded for ’67 after a couple of model years with crisp, squared styling. The hood, grille, and bumper came to a point which broke from the previous ’65s and ’66s which featured flat designs. Rooflines of two-door hardtops were sleeker which, along with the rounded lines and pointed front end, followed the design trend of GM, or more specifically, Chevrolet, Ford’s long-time archrival.
Even though the Fairlanes and Mustangs were more appropriate for the sporting types, the full-size cars maintained a dose of sporty allure. The ‘67 two-door hardtop and convertible body styles retained the bucket seat and console equipped, V-8 powered XL model in the line-up. Furthermore, the big Fords could still be ordered with one of the 427s offered – a single 4-bbl. version rated at 410hp, or a dual quad type that delivered 425hp. If that was not enough power to satisfy the buyer, Ford still offered the SOHC version of the 427 through the parts department. This monster was rated at 616hp with the four-barrel carb and 657hp with the dual quads; either way the SOHC was extremely expensive and absolutely unsuitable for routine driving.
Also available was one of two 428s – one with 345hp and the other a police interceptor with 360hp. That is a lot of horsepower, but the main purpose of the 428 was to run the accessories like power steering and air conditioning while providing plenty of low-end torque, thus for serious performance one had to select the 427; few buyers did. The standard engine for the full-size line (except for the LTD and XL which came standard with a 289) was the 150hp 240 cubic inch Big Six, however, most ‘67 Galaxie 500s came with an extra-cost V-8 which was typically a 289 or a 390 2-bbl.
390 2-bbl. V-8
For 1967, there were essentially two versions of the 390. One was fed fuel with a two venturi carb and the other with a four. However, 390 2-bbl. engines received codes of Y or H depending on whether a manual or automatic transmission was bolted to it. This engine was officially rated at 270hp (though some sources show 265hp with the manual transmission and 275 with the automatic).The Z-code 390 was topped with a four-barrel, had a higher compression ratio, and got dual exhausts; these features upped the output to 315. As for transmissions, Ford offered a variety of them – three-speed column shift, four-on-the-floor, plus the automatics C4, C6, FX, MX, and XPL. The type installed depended upon such factors as engine selection and whether a trailer towing package was ordered.
Center seat belt was a dealer-installed accessory; deluxe seat belts were optional.
Headrests were a dealer-installed accessory. An 8-track stereo (mounted under center dash) was an option.
The March 1967 issue of Motor Trend provided interested readers with the results of a comparison test of the Galaxie 500, Impala Super Sport, and Plymouth Sport Fury. In terms of handling and roadability, the Ford impressed the MT evaluators the most “due to its quietness more than its handling characteristics.”  They elaborated that, “With windows closed, the Galaxie interior is almost completely sealed from all road noises and those of passing cars. It didn’t handle the best of the three, but we could learn to live with this a lot easier than leaking window seals and noises emanating from mechanical parts.” They also noted that the Galaxie 500 is “...an equal performer to Chevy and Plymouth in all but the most severe cornering and rebound conditions – an area where most Galaxie owners won’t research.” The Motor Trend report indicated the three cars were very similar in all areas.
Standard features on the quiet riding Galaxie 500 two- and four-door hardtops, convertible, and four-door sedan included a choice of 15 monotone paint colors, five interior colors for the combination vinyl and cloth upholstery (all vinyl on convertibles), in-line six cylinder coupled to a three-speed column-shifted manual transmission, two-speed electric windshield wipers, heater, bright lower body and wheel well moldings, carpeting, and illuminated ash tray, glove box, and trunk. Optional features included the aforementioned engines and transmissions, wheel covers, extra body side molding or pin stripping, rear bumper guards, choice of radios including AM, AM/FM, and AM/8-track stereo, power steering, power brakes (all drum or front discs), power windows, electric clock, tinted windshield or tinted glass, air conditioning, two-tone paint (except convertible), all vinyl upholstery (standard on convertible), plus a large variety of dealer installed accessories such as headrests, litter basket, compass, etc. Numerous special equipment groups were comprised of various combinations of these options, too.
One of the ways FoMoCo promoted its new 1967 full-sized cars was with a couple of show cars christened XL Interceptor and Magic Cruiser II. The XL Interceptor had abundant modifications such as magnesium wheels, special tires textured appliqu├ęs on the lower bodysides, floating design taillights, reflector slots in the quarters, a modified grille, and plastic lens covers over the headlights. A 428 resided under the hood of the light blue Murano Pearl show vehicle. The Magic Cruiser II (built by George Barris) was, as Ford described it, a "super fastback” that could be turned into a station wagon when the fastback section of the roof and two special window-side panels were electrically raised. The two unique cars were shown nationally at various events that year such as the Chicago Auto Show.
The author posed (evidently reluctantly) with his dad's new Ford.
The most popular model in Ford’s line-up for ‘67 was the Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop – an example of which is illustrated here. It was purchased new by my dad during the early summer of that year. He evidently had a preference for Fords in the ‘60s; his first new one was a Tuscan Yellow ‘62 Galaxie 500 four-door sedan which was replaced about two years later by a Pagoda Green ‘64 two-door hardtop. Others followed in ‘65 and ‘66. During ‘67, mom and dad were ready for another new Ford. A Pebble Beige two-door example with the 289 had gotten my dad’s interest. However, my mom had her eyes focused on a Candyapple Red car with a black vinyl top. She probably did not notice the 390 emblem on the fender nor the window sticker, but my dad did. He was practical and did not want to pay the extra cost added by the 390 ($78.25) and vinyl top ($74.36). Mom was less frugal; she wanted the red and black car which is what she got. As I said, dad was practical!
Mom drove me to school in it until I was old enough to drive myself; at that point I got my own car. However, the Ford became my daily driver in August 1983, when it had just less than 50,000 miles on it. The Ford served my transportation needs until May 1995, and nearly 94,000 miles later when another vehicle assumed that duty. During those dozen years, the car was repainted, the radiator was recored, the transmission rebuilt, the compressor, carpets front and rear, and vinyl top were replaced, the front seat cushion was reupholstered, the bumpers replated, the suspension rebuilt, dual aluminized exhausts were added, plus several more factory options and accessories (AM/FM, reverb, power antenna, head rests, etc.) were installed.
The vinyl top which was replaced in 1989, decayed enough over the succeeding years to allow water to collect underneath; as a consequence severe rust infected the entire roof panel. (At the time the vinyl top was replaced, the steel underneath was flawless.) The vinyl hid the growing severity of the rust; upon removing it, though, the ugly truth was revealed. A roof transplant was mandatory to save the old Ford. Also, the 390 was very tired at just over 143,000 miles (with much of the mileage consisting of in-town driving during the first 20 years of operation) and the paint was bad again. Even the AM/FM radio was not working well. About the only consolation in all of this was that at least the old Ford did not require a total, body-off-frame restoration and locating a donor car would be an easy task.
The rusted roof panel had to be replaced.
The restoration of the body spanned about one year.
A local shop, R&R Restoration, handled the body work which was obviously a bit different than usual; after all, quarters, rockers, and floor pans are the panels commonly infected with rust and cutting off roof panels is generally associated with customizing (chop-tops). Once the replacement roof panel was attached, the idea of another vinyl top being applied was rejected. Besides, the lines of the car appeared to me to be much smoother without the vinyl covering and the chrome divider trim. Code “T” Candyapple Red paint in clear coat/base coat brought new radiance to the formerly dull, weathered body.
All 1967 Galaxie 500s were equipped with this trunk ornament.
The 390 rebuild was handled by another shop. The block was bored .040 in. oversize which resulted in the displacement increasing to 397 cubic inches. A new cam and rocker arm assemblies along with hardened valves and valve seats helped put new life into the engine – or so it seemed. For reasons unknown, the block had cracked badly in a water jacket area. It was welded by shop personnel without my knowledge. Unfortunately, when the engine was reinstalled and started for the first time it began leaking coolant profusely. Another block had to be located and was bored to fit the new pistons. The C6 transmission was also rebuilt. Replacement of the rear wheel bearings and seals renewed the 9-inch rear end.
Today, the 40-year old Galaxie 500 is in a state of semi-retirement with occasional outings adding about 1,500 miles per year to the odometer. There were 197,388 of these two-door hardtops built for ‘67, but in my opinion this car is one-of-a-kind because it is a family heirloom.
For more on full-size Fords purchase my book, "Full-Size Fords: 1955-1970," published by CarTech. It can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Full-Size-Fords-1955-1970-David-Temple/dp/1934709085/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263768810&sr=1-3

4 comments:

  1. I love the way you describe the modifications done on the ford over the years just because you didn't wanna let it go, i suppose. And i also love the outcome after the top was replaced. I also visited the Amazon links and beautiful pictures they are.

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  2. Great story, but one thing: the car does not have an "8-track cassette" stereo. Eight-track is one format, cassette is another. The correct word for an 8-track tape is "cartridge."

    This car has an AM/FM radio (mounted in the dashboard), and an 8-track player mounted under the dashboard. In '67, you could order an AM radio, an AM/8-track (mounted in the dashboard), or an AM/FM radio, also mounted in the dashboard. If you wanted FM radio AND 8-track, you had to have the setup seen here. FM stereo didn't come along until '68 in Ford radios, and AM/FM 8-track (all in one unit) didn't appear until 1973. Cassette appeared in Ford cars 1978.

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    Replies
    1. You are correct. The word "cassette" has been deleted from the photo caption.

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