(first posted 7/29/2014) We tend to talk about Ford’s brilliant segment-defining new cars of the 60s, like the Falcon, Fairlane and Mustang. But in the excitement of all of those new cars, it’s easy to overlook a painful reality: Ford’s big cars really languished during the very years those new smaller Fords were introduced. It started in 1960, the year of the Falcon and the controversially-styled new full-sized cars. The worst year was in 1962, when full-sized Chevys outsold the big Fords two-to-one. But Ford was determined to fight back for 1965.
Ford completely redid the big cars for 1965, in an effort to fight back. The styling was done with nothing but straight edges, and was of course heavily influenced by the highly influential 1963 Pontiacs. Bad timing, as Chevy threw Ford a curve ball: the new ’65 Chevy was busting out with hips and breasts and whatever one called all of its bulging protrusions. Ford did narrow the gap some; presumably some folks weren’t quite ready for GM’s new augmentation plastic surgery. The big Chevy outsold the Fords by a mere 70%. But the direction was positive, and the trend was in the right direction. The worst years for the big Fords were over, and soon it would be back to battling its long-time nemesis on more equal footing.
It may be rectilinear, but it’s also got plenty of rectitude. Who can resist the charms of a big convertible? Frankly, the Galaxie 500 with the bench seat is a better choice than the XL with the buckets, as sidling up while leisurely watching the world go by overhead is the best way to enjoy a big rag top. Why be constrained, when there’s so much room?
With the top down, the burbling of the 390’s dual exhausts provide just the perfect musical score to accompany the splendid scenery that the owners of this pleasure boat were afforded on the day we shot it in Oakridge, well up in the heart of the Cascades.
Presumably they spent the afternoon on Aufderheide Scenic Drive, which really lives up to its name, as it follows both the South Fork of the McKenzie River and the North Fork of the Willamette River, near the sources of both of them. It’s a premier driving road, and although I enjoy taking the endless twists and turns with some zest, in a ’65 Galaxie 500 convertible, a more relaxed style is called for; drift-boating instead of kayaking.
We caught up with the white Ford at our favorite post-hiking spot, Brewer’s Union 180 Pub in Oakridge. We had that first outdoor table there, and got plenty of time to ponder its straight lines from its prow to its stern, only broken by the damage at the tip of the left front fender, and wonder what the poor Ford was run into. Not a ’65 Chevy, one hopes. Stephanie overheard the owner moaning about that little unfortunate incident. But except for that one little wrinkle, it’s just about perfect; perfectly straight, that is.