Curbside Classic: 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 2-Door Hardtop – The Big Sporty Hardtop’s Last Hurrah

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(first posted 3/16/2013)     The sixties are called the decade of change. But what was brewing for years often took a while to actually manifest in mainstream American’s lives, homes and driveways. For instance, the full-size sporty two-door hardtop; ever since it arrived in around 1949, it became a hugely popular staple, along with Wonder Bread and such. So when did the changes finally erupt in Anytown, USA? When did Johnny decide to grow out his crew cut? And when did Mary buy her first loaf of whole-wheat bread? It’s hard to pin down exactly. But when it came to the big two-door sporty hardtop, 1967-1968 was the tipping point, certainly for the Galaxie 500.

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We took advantage of a gloriously warm Friday night to walk down to the Whiteaker District for dinner and car spotting. This big red Galaxie was certainly unavoidable, looking a wee bit out of place in front of the New Day Bakery and all the Subarus.

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Undoubtedly, the ’67 Fords were a knee-jerk reaction to GM’s bold new Coke-bottle ’65s. The sharp edges and flat sides of the ’65s and ’66s suddenly gave way to softer skins and rounder transitions. Hardly original, but its a handsome car nonetheless.

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The front end was the finale for the Pontiac-copy stacked headlights. Sure beats the sad ’68s with their generic-mobile front face (except the hidden-headlight LTDs and XLs).

This one appears to have the 289 V8, given the lack of a badge indicating big-block power. Although the 289 had been the base V8 in the big cars since 1964, they were surprisingly uncommon in them. I used to wonder as a kid “why do they all seem to have the 352 or 390?”, when the Chevy 283 was still so ubiquitous. The reason was that Ford couldn’t make enough, due to the overwhelming success of the Mustang. By 1967, that eased a bit, and the 352 was finally sent packing.

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Having been a “Chevy Guy” in my childhood, it’s taken a while for me to acknowledge that the Fords in the classic sixties era were probably a bit better built and trimmed. I actually noticed it then, but prejudices die hard.

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The era of full-sized fastbacks would soon be over; the Great Brougham Epoch was under way, and slick and shiny fastbacks were giving way to grained-vinyl and formal rooflines. Some 200,000 of these Galaxie 500 2-door hardtops were sold in 1967. In 1968? just over one-third that amount (69k). This ’67 really was the swansong of the big sporty hardtop coupe. Change was in the air.

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