(first posted 10/15/2013) Quite a few cars have made a lasting impression on society, such as the ’57 Chevrolet and ’65 Mustang. These are cars that for whatever reasons have remained in the collective consciousness in the United States and beyond.
Given the vast variety of cars available from each manufacturer every year, it is odd that more have not captivated the same degree of attention. There are certainly cars that possess the eye-popping qualities, such as chrome laden GM models, and those more unfortunate specimens such as the ’62 Dodge.
One factor of success is being in the right place at the right time. The full-sized ’63 Ford is a car I would use as an example of being in the right place; read on and you shall recognize why I hesitate to say each example was there at the right time. Fasten your seatbelt because we will be covering quite a wide spectrum.
The first Daytona 500 took place in 1959, as part of the ever expanding NASCAR series.
In 1963, DeWayne “Tiny” Lund, went to Daytona, Florida, looking for a car to race. At age 33, Lund had had limited success as a race car driver, but he remained optimistic. Lund was certainly one who qualifies for being in the right place at the right time. Marvin Panch, a friend of Lund’s, was injured in trial runs for another race also being held at Daytona. Lund witnessed Panch’s collision and was one of the first responders to help extricate Panch from his burning Maserati. At the hospital, knowing he would be unable to race in the Daytona 500, Panch asked Lund to take his place.
“Tiny” Lund, at 6’5″ and 270 pounds, was up to the task. Taking the lead late in the race, his team used the strategy of skipping a fuel stop to advance to the lead. Despite running out of fuel in the final lap, Lund coasted his ’63 Ford Galaxie 500 across the finish line for the biggest win of his racing career.
Here are some highlights.
It seems a sizable portion of the internet has dedicated itself to the events, and suspected conspiracies, surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Perpetuating any arguments about these events is fodder for other websites; this is to examine the cars used during this period fifty years ago.
The fatal events on that cold November day in Dallas, Texas, were not limited to the President. Police Officer J.D. Tippit was murdered on East 10th Street while on patrol.
Tippit, 39, was an 11 year veteran of the Dallas Police Department who had earlier won a bronze star during his time in the United States Army’s 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment. While on patrol in his 1963 Ford, Tippit encountered a person meeting the description of someone wanted in connection with the shooting of the President less than an hour earlier.
After a brief discussion, Tippit exited the car. As he approached the front of this Ford, the person fired across the hood shooting Tippit three times in the chest.
There in an abundance of information available about the details of Tippit’s murder, with scant information available about the patrol car itself. Deeper probing revealed this Ford, marked as Unit 10, was back on patrol with another officer later that day. At a later and unidentified time, the ’63 Ford patrol car was involved in a crash and was subsequently scrapped.
When Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald a few days later, the car seen backing into the immediate chaos in the Dallas Police Department garage is a ’63 Ford.
Despite the sad events in November of 1963, there were still a number of positive things happening. One of them was a television show entering into its fourth season in late 1963, a television show that can still be found in syndication on a variety of networks.
The Andy Griffith Show was a chronicle of the small southern town of Mayberry in the 1960’s. It is likely certain themes from Mayberry strike a chord in all of us, which explains the success of the show to this day. While the characters all had a familiar element to them, my favorite part of the show was the cars used in the background.
image source: www.imcdb.org
Each season of The Andy Griffith Show had a Ford as Andy’s patrol car. Mayberry was either very flush with resources, or was able to get a good value on trade. It’s always easy to identify the year of production with this show.
image source: www.imcdb.org
Tapping into Google reveals a phenomenal number of people who have painted their early to mid-1960’s Galaxie as a Mayberry replica. Your author had a very clean ’62 Galaxie that he sold to a gentleman from Hayfield, Minnesota, who was intent on doing the same thing.
The production company was provided a new Ford each year for production of the show. When filming for the season was over, the car was repainted in its factory color and sold as a regular used car. The whereabouts of the cars used in the production of the show are not known.
The ’63 Ford, like all other cars, aged to the point where it was attractive for use in movies. One such movie of note is the 1972 Sam Peckinpah film The Getaway.
image source: www.imcdb.org
Steve McQueen’s character is paroled from prison after a crooked politician has influenced the parole board. In exchange for his freedom, McQueen’s character must assist with the robbery of a bank. McQueen’s character is picked up at the prison by his accomplice wife, Ali MacGraw, in her blue ’63 Ford Galaxie 500.
image source: www.imcdb.org
After fulfilling their end of the deal with a robbery botched by others, these two are on the run and ultimately use many getaway cars. This blue Galaxie is up to bat first, gets the most vigorous workout, and is the most memorable.
image source: www.imcdb.org
The chase in this film begins immediately after the first bank robbery. How many cars can drive through someones front porch,
image source: www.imcdb.org
make it all the way across,
image source: www.imcdb.org
and escape a hellish inferno? None of the other cars they used received such a workout. Judging by the absence of an engine call-out on the front fender, this car had a 5.8 liter, 352 CID V8 at best. The Getaway would ultimately be the eighth highest grossing film in the United States for 1972.
The involvement of the ’63 Ford went beyond that found in current events and entertainment. There were other factors that give it a special status.
Ford’s full-sized models for 1963 were re-skinned models on a platform that began in 1960. Engine displacement and power output had been steadily increasing each year from the spiced version of the 352 that had been the top engine for 1960. The 1963 models were notable for the introduction of two engines whose cubic inch displacement would be numbers that are still fondly remembered today.
image source: www.wikipedia.org
The 289 V8 was introduced into the full-sized Ford option chart in the middle of model year 1963. While the 260 had started the year as the replacement for the old 292, the 289 soon took over the duties of being the base V8. The 289 would continue to power full-sized Ford automobiles for several more years and would also be prime motivational power for the Fairlane, Mustang, and Falcon.
The demise of the 289 was due to the creation of the also well known 302 cubic inch V8.
Image source: www.wikipedia.org
Model year 1963 brought another new engine to the scene – the 427 cubic inch V8. The previous 406 carried over briefly to the ’63 model year, yet it was doing Ford no favors when used in various racing competitions. Soon after introduction of the ’63 models, the 406 was unceremoniously dropped in favor of the 427.
The 427 was the engine that powered “Tiny” Lund’s Ford that won the Daytona 500 that year. At first blush it would appear that it was a bored and stroked 406. However the changes went far beyond just the obvious, with aluminum pistons and stronger connecting rods being only two of the changes made. In street form, this engine was rated at 410 horsepower with the single four barrel carburetor and 425 horsepower with the dual four barrel carburetors.
The February 1964 issue of Car Craft magazine tested a 410 horsepower Galaxie whose engine had been prepared by Holman-Moody. With the 3.50:1 rear axle ratio, the 427 Galaxie sprinted to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds with a terminal speed of 105 miles per hour – and did so on skinny bias-ply tires.
image source: www.extravaganzi.com
In quarter-mile drag races, Ford realized the Galaxie was too rotund to be as competitive as it could be. In an effort to overcome this challenge, a run of 200 lightweight Galaxie 500s were produced. All were equipped with the 427 and a T-10 four-speed with an aluminum case. The use of aluminum continued to both bumpers while fiberglass was used on the hood, truck lid, and both inner and outer fenders. The frame was lightened and the car was devoid of excesses such as sound deadening, armrests, and reverse lights. All but one were painted white with a red interior.
As the 1960’s progressed, the 427 would continue to be offered in full-sized Ford and Mercury cars although they are rare. There was even a very limited production overhead cam 427 that was used for racing purposes – might that have been the spiritual predecessor to Ford’s later 4.6 liter overhead cam V8?
The desire to win races prompted more than just the introduction of the 427. In addition to the less than anticipated performance of the 406, the aerodynamic qualities of the ’62 Galaxie two-door were abysmal. The sloped roof Starliner had been used in racing for 1960 and 1961, but went away for 1962. The 1963 model year saw continued use of the two-door in racing (as seen at the top of the page), but results still weren’t ideal.
Bring in the Sports Hardtop. The Sports Hardtop Galaxie is what “Tiny” Lund piloted to victory at Daytona. Ford took a regular Galaxie two-door hardtop body and by changing the roofline, the improved aerodynamics made it a much more formidable opponent on the racetrack. So much more, that a Sports Hardtop Galaxie required 100 fewer horsepower to maintain 160 miles per hour than did a ’62 Galaxie. This body style was wildly popular upon its introduction and the Sports Hardtop even outsold the bread-and-butter four-door sedan in some trim levels for 1964.
While some of the more obvious mid-year changes to the Ford line in 1963 may have been racing induced, not everything in the Ford lineup revolved around racing. There was still the need to make drivers happy and comfortable. In that regard, Ford delivered and they perhaps foretold the direction of automobiles fifty years later.
In an effort to inject more luxury, Ford expanded their XL lineup from its 1962 introduction. Equipped with bucket seats and a floor mounted gear selector, it was previously available only on convertible and two-door hardtop models. For 1963, Ford expanded the XL lineup to include a four-door hardtop (seen in middle of ad above). While equipping a four-door with bucket seats and a floor mounted gear selector is currently the norm, might the ’63 Galaxie four-door in XL trim be one of the first four-door cars ever built with a console, bucket seats, and floor shift?
Ford’s line of full-sized cars in 1963 were not extraordinary in the manner one would typically think. But due to being in the right place, often at the right time, these cars certainly have achieved a higher degree of immortality than many other cars from the same year.
HA! Even before clicking on the story just seeing the car I thought to myself, “That’s Sherriff The Andy Griffith’s car” 🙂
Loved that Dayton video. Why is it that I actually liked NASCAR back then?
Because the racecars were actual cars, and the drivers were actual people…
Now it’s just corporate BS with cars that all look the same. I stopped liking NASCAR about 15 years ago because of this.
FIA Rally racing is more authentic to me. I can relate to hooning a subcompact down a tree lined dirt road at 100 mph.
Yeah, those trees are a lot of fun to hit at 100 mph.
The WRC cars are not very production-related these days unfortunately. It must be 10 years ago at least that they allow you to make an awd version of any car, change the engine etc. The last couple of years they are allowed to vary the track width or in effect use a smaller car with big flares. Off topic so I’ll that rabbit hole alone now!
Maybe because you didn’t have to wait for a close-up shot of the badge to know what kind of car it was? Or just the fact that they were much more closely related to street cars back then?
I’m not sure why they even bother putting manufacturer stickers on them anymore. They may as well become IROC, since anytime a car has any kind of trouble or advantage they adjust the rules to even the playing field.
+2 — seeing that got my blood pumping. I’d have been the biggest NASCAR fan had I been born 20 years prior. The sound of those babies at WOT is glorious. Seeing that RR smoking all the way out of the pits makes me want to go outside, hop in one of the beaters & lay a huge patch-o-rubber.
These were used in a lot of movies and TV shows over the years. By the late 60s and early 70s, they were popular for bad guys in TV shows like Dragnet and Adam-12.
Yes, they were. It was tough to draw the line; Cannon rolled one over, Hawaii Five-O sent one over a cliff, one was blown up on Police Story, one was crushed just for Cleopatra Jones.
Imagine, they would be like old Crown Vics today, cheap, available and expendable.
Daytona isnt racing its a parade but the big Galaxie was a winner in the UK on real race tracks it could out run the Lotus Cortina, mind it took the big block to outpace a 4 banger.
The 63 Fords are some of the best lookers ever made.
If someone were to offer me a choice of any 1963 model vehicle, there’d be a 4-door hardtop XL with red interior and that gorgeous console in the driveway. A 427/4-speed would be ideal, but a 390 automatic would be nice too.
My favorite feature of the ’63 Ford was the clever grille emblem that happened to also be the hood release.
Really? Any 1963 car, and you would pick a Ford.
Not a Riviera or a Grand Prix or, well anything else?
An XL would be nice, but I’d have a hard time deciding between a Caddy, Continental or an Imperial. A Riv would be great too.
I too love the full sized ’63 Fords. The tail lights are especially memorable. I was so disappointed when the ’64 debuted; I then thought (and still do) it was as ugly and ungainly as the ’63 was crisp.
“might the ’63 Galaxie four-door in XL trim be one of the first four-door cars ever built with a console, bucket seats, and floor shift?” – not only in four doors but five doors too. I believe the bucket seats, console and shifter of an XL could be had on a Country Squire, though that must have been quite rare.
“Mr. B” in “Hazel” drove a ’63 Ford for at least one year.
Styling preference is all personal, of course, but I would say that the 64 has a larger following than the 63. The 63 is a very clean and elegant, while the 64 is a bit more unique and meaner looking. Personally, I’d choose a 64 between the two, but they are both cool.
Personally I like the look of the ’64 better — even though my favorite ’63 model car is this Ford. The ’64 looks lower, more muscular, and a tad less stodgy. The ’64 taillights will always be my favorite of the roundie Ford lights.
I’ll join you in a relative downvote of the 64’s (and the 62’s as well, for that matter). 🙂
The crispness and elegance of the 61’s and 63’s always appealed to me, while the heavier bulkiness of the alternate-year cars made it seem like Ford had two rival teams in the design studio, and farmed out alternate model years to each group.
The second model in each pair looks like a logical development of its two-year old predecessor, but not of the previous year’s car.
Collectible Automobile did once an article about the “1963½” Ford additionnal models with the semi-fastback Galaxie XL.
However in the case of the Gateway, Steve McQueen later used a 1969 Impala in the movie http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_27663-Chevrolet-Impala-16469-1969.html
1963 was also the beginning of the tv series “The Fugitive”.
Being Andy Taylor’s ride makes it immortal.
I also have always favored the 1963 tail end treatment over the 1964’s heavy dog dish Falconesque treatment, or the 1962’s mini-fins. 1963 was perfection. Even with an overly long trunk deck, a-la-Thunderbird, having the extra large tail lights sitting high over the rear bumper balances the rear fender drop beautifully.
I also like the front end treatment for this year.
I think you mean the 1961’s mini-fins. No fins of any kind on the tail of the 1962. I agree about the 1963. Best friends had a 63 convertible that was just drop dead gorgeous.
If you ever get the chance, you need to go to the museum at Talladega.. The old NASCAR racers there are wonderful. The cars just a bit older than this were raced with the bench seat still in place. It was the mid sixties that the cars started changing into real race cars, rather than modified production cars. Drivers of this era had to be brave to drive those cars. Anyway, the museum there is a real treat. I used to go every few years to see what was new. Now, it is too far for a weekend trip. The museum at Barber Motorsports Park is worth seeing too.
If the production company had only had the fore-site to keep Andy’s squad cars original,
Connstellation, you were correct about the bucket seat option on the Squire. I wonder how many owners decked them out like that?
Think I’ve seen one or two bucket seat ’63 Country Squires over the years.
Just imagine how stunning it would be to spot a white one with the red bucket seat/XL interior.
I have a white one with the red bucket seat interior and a factory 4-speed
My Ford book says 437 five-passenger (two-seat) Squires and 321 eight-passenger (three-seat) ones were built in 1963…it’s debated whether they simply had the buckets and console or were actually “XL Country Squire”. models
(note:Google and you’ll find pictures and the story of a 1967 Squire that was custom ordered with buckets, console and a 4-speed, behind a 428 engine. Lee Iacocca personally authorized the build).
This car doesn’t do so much to me but the piece it’s truly a cool, fascinating read, great job 😉 !
I had a ’63 Galaxie XL 500. 390 C.I.D. Wished I still had it. Used eat and puke Comaros and Chargers. Loved that car.
And here’s the Gurney/NASCAR ’63 for sale ($149K)–listing over at bringatrailer.com:
1963 was the year full size Fords got cranks for the vent windows, something former Ford executive Robert McNamara had refused to do.
We had a Galaxie 500 sedan, black inside and out. My mom loved it, except for the fact the power steering pump failed and it was harder to steer than manual would have been..
The “63” Galaxie was very cool …. particularly the hard-top convertible ….those round turbo taillights ….they sealed the deal for me.
I think your preference for the ’63 or ’64 has to do with your like or dislike for the high mounted or low mounted tail lights. I think the high mounted look is seen on the ’57, ’59, ’63, 65, and ’66. I think Ford totally got it right with the 1966 the best styled from any angle and with appropriate restraint.
These have always been my favorite fullsize Ford car of any era. Just beautiful.
Thanks for putting their history all in one place. I knew of these events, but never connected the cars.
You know my family had a full-size ’63, Jason, and so they hold special charm. NASCAR wasn’t quite the “national spectacle” then that it later became, but it’s still fun to see the essentially-stock-bodied cars, racing on Sunday and selling on Monday.
My pet theory about the new 221-260-269 V8 is that as Ford was able to dial in precision-casting of those lighter-weight blocks, they were able to reliably cast/machine the bores bigger in mass production, and so increase displacement. Who knows?
This is all nearly 60 years ago now—but thanks for taking us back in time!
One of the best parts of “The Getaway”? Seeing Sally Strouthers in just a bra 🙂
Remember a lot of “60/61/62” big Fords as a kid. ((we had Chevy’s)) Don’t recall many “1963’s”.
Hazel drove the Baxter’s Country Squire in several episodes.. It changed yearly like the Mayberry squad car.
Thanks for the re-post; I missed it on the first run. Tiny Lund was one of my childhood heroes as well as his ’63.
My folks bought a 63 new when I was a kid. Galaxie 500, 4 door, baby blue, 289 with a FordOmatic. I learned to drive in that car somewhat later. Always liked the styling, but not that baby blue color and the combo of the short stroke 289 in the heavy Galaxie with the 2 speed auto meant it was pretty gutless, especially off the line. Slower by the seat of my pants than a ’61 292 with the same 2 speed auto I later acquired, in the same color. Years later a coworker had a ’63 convertible he inherited from his Dad when he passed. Looked inside and wow, turn back the clock, just like the one my folks had. Forget what it came with, but he put a ~350 ish crate engine in it eventually that really woke it up. My folks car, which became my Mom’s after the divorce lasted about 10 years but I’m not sure it hit 70K before rust and the little 289 said it was time to move on.
But I agree with most, it was a good looking car, nice clean lines, not too busy like 64’s were.
I’ll take a 63 1/2 Sports Roof, 427, I’d drop in a 5 speed and add a bunch of those light weight parts followed by some suspension upgrades, two tone paint job.
Amazing how many versions they built back then. convertibles, 2 dr sedan, 4 dr sedan, 2 dr hardtop, 4 dr hardtop, 2 dr Sports Roof and those good looking wagons.
We had two 63’s n the family, Black 4 dr sedan 352 3 spd automatic. The other was mine, originally it was a 406 4 spd 2 dr sedan, Galaxy or a Custom? I don’t know if I have a picture of it or not. When I got it it had a 352 with the 406 heads, intake, carb and cam in it. Ran really good but burned oil like no tomorrow. Swapped in a 390 from a T-Bird. Ran fine but ran out of breath at around 5000 rpm, valve float. At a steady RPM it started floating at 4700-4800 rpm. The driveline had a bad vibration at 65 to 70 mph. So it was cruise at 63-64 or 73-75 mph. New tail shaft bushing and u-joints and vibration was gone. Also the trans would pop out of third gear if you let off the gas too quickly.
Eventually replaced the generator with an alternator, the generators didn’t stand up to well with the hot rodding. I couldn’t even guess how many times I replaced the generator and regulator. I used to carry a spare set and the tools to change it in the trunk.
My dad’s first new car ordered was a 1963.5 Galaxie 500 XL. First use of a 289 vs. 260 I do believe. It may have been the dawn of alternators at Ford as well. 3 speed Cruise-matic (?) auto trans. It was a Ming Green (think turquoise) with white top, two tone. The family did about a 7500 mile western road trip in it over 4 or 5 weeks in summer ’64. No A/C in the Ford which became very painfully evident in Death Valley and the Southwest. This was the only Ford my dad ever owned.
The 63.5 was in the family for years until I bought it at a great price in 1971. This Ford also had an option for some sort of locker rear differential. It performed some almost unbelievable feats of traction in blizzards and corn field get offs. During my dad’s tenure it had an almost serial appetite for destroying water pumps. Years later, my dad admitted to repeatedly feeding it some sort of snake oil “water pump lube” which I’m sure was the cause. I ran it far and hard for two more years, then passed it on to a neighbor for $25.
After three fair to horrible experiences with new Fords in the 80’s I can’t identify as a Ford man. However, the 63-63.5 remains my favorite Ford. Overall, a very reliable and decently handling car as well.
1964 was the last year for generators, our family car when I was little was a ’64 Country Sedan in Guardsman blue.
The ’64’s were really just as nice. I’m sure you are correct for the whole Ford lineup on alternators but my family’s ‘63.5 500 did come with an alternator. I remember my dad having to get to it replaced a couple of times early on. From what I read they were Leece – Neville alternators. Surely most Fords had generators until 1965.
My first auto was my Grandfather 1963.5 ford galaxie xl500 with a 390 black red interior bucket wish I still had it