(first posted 10/5/2017) I’ve always had at least a passing interest in astronomy. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a city with its own planetarium, the Robert T. Longway Planetarium in the Cultural Center district of Flint, Michigan. My elementary school was located only a few blocks away, and I remember several walking field trips to the planetarium. It was in this aqua-colored dome and in the classroom that I learned to identify the proper names and configurations of many constellations.
To this day, and when I’m able, I seek out Orion, Ursa Major (the “Big Dipper”), and the seven sisters of the Pleiades (part of Taurus) in the dark of the night sky. Anywhere I am and in any state, it’s comforting to see their familiar shapes and dots of light against the inky canvas of the sky, knowing they were in existence long before me, and also that they’re so much bigger and more permanent than any momentary issue I may be experiencing.
I think the introduction of the “Galaxie” name by Ford for model year ’59 was a really neat tie-in with this country’s growing obsession with outer space in that so-called “Atomic Age“. I never even really minded that “Galaxie” was misspelled. After all, lots of fabricated trade names were coined at that time. One needs to look no further than a period photograph of the detergent aisle of a Safeway supermarket for a good sampling of such product names, like “Biz”, “Duz”, and “Su-Purb”. I’ll bet marketers of the day had such fun naming products back then.
I was on my way somewhere on a Sunday afternoon in a ride-share car when our featured Galaxie 500 passed by slowly on the left. I had happened to have my Canon SLR camera with me, and my driver, heeding my enthusiasm at spotting this classic Ford, willingly positioned his car where I could at least attempt to get a few, decent shots of it. I was pleased to see its owner / driver wearing a formal suit and hat. This got me thinking of how the Thunderbird-inspired, formal roofline of the ’62 Galaxie 500 2-door (“Club Victoria” denoted the hardtop coupe) eventually gave way to the sportier, quasi-fastback Sports Hardtop that arrived mid-year 1963. Both types of roof were still available for the remainder of the ’63 model year, but by 1964, the squared-off roof was gone.
Much like concurrent popular music tastes for many continued to evolve from vocal pop standards to more youthful, rock- and Motown-oriented sounds (among others), the greenhouse of the volume-seller Galaxie 500 was also morphing into something sportier and a little less buttoned-down. I like the looks of both rooflines, but combined with the classy attire of its driver, the razor-edged roof of this ’62 Galaxie made this once-mainstream Ford look more than a little debonair. This example was one of about 87,500 Galaxie 500 Club Victorias sold that year – the second-most popular Galaxie 500, behind the standard four-door. About 404,600 total Galaxie 500s found buyers in ’62, out of about 704,800 full-size Fords in any bodystyle or trim level.
Just as a galaxy is made up of many stars, this Galaxie 500 is rife with eye-pleasing details. I especially like the ribbed, horizontal trim along the full length of the bodysides, as well as the detail where the C-pillar meets the “shoulder” at top of the rear quarter panel. The airy greenhouse and slightly-concave backlight make the cabin look like a very comfortable place to spend time. There are Ford’s simple, attractive and trademarked round “afterburner” taillights, and also the stylish typography of the chrome “Galaxie” badges. (Around what point in time did cursive font start to lose popularity?) In fact, all of the chrome on this example simply sparkled, as would befit a celestial body of twinkling stars.
As I observed this gentleman enjoying what looked like a casual, pleasant, Sunday afternoon drive in this classic Ford, I could think of few activities that would have been more suitable for the end of a warm weekend in late Spring. Seen against the backdrop of St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, this Galaxie gave me a brief, Alfred Hitchcock-ian moment, as if I could almost hear the strings of a tension-filled movie score. Just as Hollywood is like a galaxy of stars of the big screen from both past and present, this southbound Galaxie 500 must have been one of the brightest spots on Lake Shore Drive on this particular afternoon.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, May 31, 2015.