Car Show Classic: 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 – Look Ma, No Cruise-O-Matic!

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While the 1965 Ford has at times been described as “the box that the 1963 Pontiac came in,” I have always liked them. Perhaps because of family history, as my Grandpa Fred bought a daffodil yellow 1965 Galaxie 500 four-door sedan brand new. Although it was well before my time, my mom always liked that car, though it was traded in on a 1968 Torino GT hardtop before she got her license. But although I do not engage in Ford vs. Chevrolet horse crap (I can appreciate just about anything on wheels!), I really am a Ford Guy. I have only recently come to that realization, however, and it was somewhat startling.

1966 Ford Ad-07

But I believe it to be true. Why? Well, both my paternal and maternal grandparents drove them. My dad’s parents were slightly more well-off than mom’s, so Bob and Ruby had Thunderbirds and Lincoln Continentals, while Fred and Mae had Galaxie 500s, Torinos and LTDs. The grandparents’ cars when I was a toddler were a 1977 LTD II sedan, triple navy blue 1977 Continental Mark V, and black-over-white 1977 Thunderbird. So of course, I imprinted on them, and like those cars to this day. And always will.

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The 1965 Ford was a big change from the 1960-64s, with pretty much everything new except for engines and transnmissions. And this same basic chassis, despite major stylistic changes, essentially carried on until the fall of 1978 when the Panther-chassis LTD and Marquis appeared. Quite a run! And while Ford couldn’t quite beat GM in the sales race when it came to full-size, bread and butter cars, they still put out some attractive machines.

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But as nice as the 1965 Galaxie 500 and LTD were, Ford only made it more appealing for the 1966 model year. The biggest change was to the roofline of the two-door hardtop, with this delicious concave backlight and C-pillars. Wow! Sexy.

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Of course, the flashier hardtop was the most attractive of the full-size Fords, and still looked great, though the line was starting to lose some sales to Ford’s more specialty vehicles, such as the pony car Mustang, intermediate Fairlane and personal-luxury Thunderbird.

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One thing lost with the 1965 re-do were those wonderful jet tube taillights seen on the 1964s. While certain 1965 Fords had a round tail lamp element in the rectangular opening, with the debut of the 1966s, even that one small nod to the 1952-59 and 1961-64 rocket taillights was gone with the wind. Despite all that, however, the rectangular units still looked pretty good!

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While these pot-metal dealer tags were likely disdained by most folks when these cars were sold new, they add an interesting element to them today, and I enjoy seeing them. I wonder, is the dealer still around?

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And here we have the whole car, for your viewing pleasure! What can I say, I enjoy taking detail shots of cars like these because, well, there are so many details! Try that with a late-model car.

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This Galaxie 500 was quite attractively equipped, with its pillarless two-door style, black paint, red interior, the 428 CID V8, “mag-type” wheel covers and whitewalls. But this is not your average bear. No power everything, and…no Cruise-O-Matic. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

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The 428 was new to the engine lineup that year, sharing brochure space with the 289, 352, 390 and 427 V8s. The likely 428 in this car is probably the 345-hp Thunderbird Special with a Holley four-barrel carbutetor, though a Police Interceptor version was also available, in 360-hp tune.

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Although the Galaxie 500 was no longer the top-of-the-line (the Galaxie 500XL, 7-Litre and LTD were all above it), it was still very upmarket looking, with its pleasant interior, extra chrome trim over the fleet- and cheapskate-special Custom, and attractive wood-grained instrument panel with clock. But say, what’s that on the floor?

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Why, it appears to be a floor-mounted manual transmission! I can see this on a Mustang, Falcon or even a Fairlane, but on a big boat like the Galaxie? Interesting.

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With the glitzy trim and color combination and 428 under the hood, I suspect someone wanted a bit of fun with their full-sized Ford. This car was very appealing!

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Here’s a close-up. Yes, a four speen on the floor! How ’bout that! How many were made like this? It was the first 1965-66 full-sized Ford I had ever seen with a floor-mounted manual transmission. What a rare bird! It was a pleasure to see at the Classy Chassy cruise-in in Coralville last May!

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Related reading:

CC 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 7 Litre by PN