Yes, the title is correct. While I had the 1963 Galaxie for a very long time, there was an interloper in there for about ten years, with this pair stored next to each other in my parent’s pole barn. So how did all of this come about?
I am glad you asked.
Flash your mind back to August 1988. That was when the Iran-Iraq War ceased, the 8888 Uprising in Burma (now Myanmar) took place, and an air show at Ramstein Air Base in Germany ended with the collision of three Italian jets.
That’s been a while, hasn’t it?
In my little slice of the world, summer was winding down and I was about to begin my junior year of high school. Somehow I had heard about an auction in East Cape Girardeau, Illinois, at the former Homestead store, a recently closed business in which one could have bought anything from barbed wire to cattle castrators to sticks of bologna. It was a wonderful establishment. Amongst all the assorted, non-automotive junk that was an offer, they did have an assortment of rather decent looking and sounding cars.
I can remember (most of) them vividly. There were a few others now lost in my memory banks.
There was a yellow 1974 Corvette which had had a 1960s vintage Chevrolet 327 V8 transplanted between the front fenders.
Two Corvairs were being sold. One was a sedan with an automatic, the other was a turbo-charged coupe with a four-speed. Both were fascinating as I had never seen a Corvair up close before.
Ford Motor Company had representation with a fantastic looking 1966 Lincoln Continental. I was in awe of it having a 462 cubic inch V8 – that sounded like just the ticket for Jason.
Parked next to the Lincoln was a red on red 1962 Ford Galaxie. And I am not leaving out the 500 part – in 1962, the base Galaxie was just Galaxie. A 500 meant a distinct step up the trim ladder.
Despite there being a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 parked in the pole barn at home, it wasn’t ready to roll. All of these auction cars were.
Here’s how I remember things going down. My father, in one of his few moments of weakness in both resolve and financial considerations, was actually looking at the cars. Whoa, that was a surprise. It was time to take advantage of the situation and make this an even brighter day.
I knew talking up the Corvette would have been a fool’s errand, so I starting extolling the virtues of Lincoln, and how it was what a luxury car should be. Perhaps he was interested in the Lincoln, but damned if he didn’t start to bid on the Galaxie. He purchased it for $500.
Was it a deal? Likely so. The car was profoundly solid, with no rattles or squeaks anywhere. The ’63 was tight, but the ’62 seemed like a bank vault in comparison. It had around 65,000 miles showing on the odometer. While we knew no history of the car, it did have city stickers from Portageville, Missouri, on the windshield.
The downside to me was it having a regular three-speed on the column. No overdrive here. Nor was there any power steering, power brakes, or outside mirrors. I even found the radio delete plate in the glovebox, but it did have the optional reverse lights. So this purchase netted us two weirdly equipped Galaxies.
Under the hood was an engine of unknown displacement, but I knew it likely wasn’t a 352 due to the prominent exhaust manifolds and dual bolts on the valve covers. A little sleuthing that night revealed it to have a 292 V8.
The 292 was the only weak spot with the car. It had distinct tappet noise, especially when cold. Fortunately most of that went away after we started driving it more.
An immediate, yet short term, downside was my mother. She was indifferent about having another car on the place, but she was not thrilled about having to take my father and I back to East Cape to fetch my dad’s car (we had driven the Galaxie back). However, this stems from her having had a hysterectomy about ten days prior. As I made the
mistake kind-hearted move of riding back with her, I got to hear about this being her first time driving since her surgery and how it was not pleasant.
In another of my unappreciated statements, I disclosed my offer to drive one of the cars back to prevent her having to do this, but dad had vetoed the idea. He said something about having no driver’s license. Whatever. Law enforcement was a concept infinitely more than a reality where I grew up, so I don’t know what his hesitation was about.
So the Galaxie took up residence in the pole barn. I drove it some, although that 292 was a bear to start when cold. During one of my times trying to get it started, I enlisted my sister to spray some starting fluid down the carburetor as I was cranking the engine. My father and I had done similarly before.
It worked way too well that time. However, knowing my sister as I do, she likely shot half the volume of the can down the carburetor. When that old 292 lit, there was a loud “FWOPP!” sound with the car now having much less exhaust sound muffled. Getting out, we had somehow managed to rip a split down the entire length of the muffler.
Oh well. It was running.
Other than a fuel pump, that old Galaxie needed nothing. For a while, it was driven much more than the ’63, with this being the only old car both my mother and sister drove at some point. That Galaxie was a joy to drive. While the 292 was no powerhouse, it had a surprising amount of low-end torque.
The red Galaxie stuck around until March 1998, being driven little to none after about 1992. Knowing the car was not benefitting from sitting around, I placed an ad online so it could find a new home. After a few weeks, a gentleman called about the ’62 but really sought a ’63. I told him luck was on his side, as I had one of each. We agreed to meet at my parent’s place (I was four hours away in Jefferson City, Missouri, by this time) and he could pick whichever one he wanted.
When he got there, he chose the ’62 Galaxie. It was a more base model car, working better with his plans.
My father got out his old Ford tractor and we loaded the red Galaxie onto the trailer hooked to the buyer’s Chevrolet Suburban. The buyer then went back to his home in Hayfield, Minnesota.
About six weeks later, he sent me a short note with some pictures, this being one of them. The Galaxie had received an engine transplant upgrading to, if I remember correctly, a 429 V8. As can be seen, it had been painted black and white, with stickers on the door saying “Mayberry Sheriff”.
While this fate may not be everyone’s thing, to me it said the car was going to be used. That was the hope all along. Something tells me it is still around somewhere.
(Note: The Brighter Day aired on CBS from January 4, 1954, until September 28, 1962.)
I have always been curious about your 62. That was a fascinating car for a bunch of reasons. To start, I did not learn until a few years ago that there was no genuine strippo base level big Ford in 1962 – apparently they thought that the Fairlane would fill that lane. This one had a lot of trim on it, and was a set of whitewalls and wheelcovers away from looking to most people like a normal Galaxie 500.
Second, I have always been fascinated by people who will buy a strippo car but will pick one out in bright, vivid red. That was just like the strippo 74 Charger I spent some time around. On yours, that poor Rangoon Red finish looks a little challenged. For me there are few things worse than an old red car with paint that oxidizes like almost nothing else.
Finally, that interior looked gorgeous – at least for what it was. I wonder how hard it might have been to retrofit an OD to this one? Probably the biggest thing would have been swapping out the diff ratio for the lower-numbered version used in the OD cars. Anyway, at $500 in the late 80s that seems to me a screaming deal. I wish a certain early 60s red Ford I bought around that time had been anywhere near that nice in condition.
I wonder how hard it might have been to retrofit an OD to this one?
I’ll tell you, since that’s what I did with my ’66 F100 back in 1993. The O/D only came with the B/W transmission, so you have to swap out the whole unit. And because of the O/D on the back of the transmission, it’s longer, necessitating cutting, welding and balancing the driveshaft.
Probably the biggest thing would have been swapping out the diff ratio for the lower-numbered version used in the OD cars.
The difference between the standard axle ratio (3.56) and the O/D (3.89) was pretty modest. I doubt anyone would really notice the difference.
The red on that car was indeed challenging. I waxed it several times, and it always looked great afterwards. But about fifteen minutes later it started to revert back to how it had been.
There was one place where the paint was even more challenged. Below the trim on the left rear door and fender the paint was pitted. Not sure how that happened and the only cure is seen in the next to last picture.
Other than the mild tear in the middle of the front seat the interior truly was immaculate. It even had full width floor mats up front – red, of course.
Love that bodystyle of big Fords. Great story and pics.
I like the red, you have a thing for large red Fords. Perhaps you are the Fire Chief, that’s the vocation you keep mum on. 🙂 Interesting how it “switched” vocations there but as you mentioned it very possibly lives on today, certainly more likely than otherwise, and with more pampering.
Jim, I’ll let you in on the secret about vocation…I do playground duty for adults. It’s always entertaining and mentally stimulating.
Red Fords…yes, I must have a thing for them. I keep doing a build-your-own on Ford’s website and it’s always red. All the other colors don’t excite me.
I’ve been able to determine the next lives of some of my vehicles and have included it when applicable.
Another Ford four door sedan becomes a Mayberry-mobile. I’d love to know just how many of these tributes were built. It must have been a significant number.
And it must have made the survival rate of Ford four doors of that era vastly higher than comparable brands.
Do you remember if that three speed had a syncro first gear? The new Ford “toploader” 3 speed with syncro first gear went into production during the ’62 MY year.
It did not have synchros in first gear. I remember grinding it a time or two.
Looking at the date code (I had all information from the data plate stashed away), this was #3670 down the line at the Dallas plant, built September 15, 1961. It would be interesting to know when the transition to the toploader was made, although I can’t help but think the implementation date likely varied by plant.
I spaced that; it was actually 1964.
I always thought the exposed, non-enclosed two piece steering column and gear shift control gave the fairly attractive dash a cheap, unfinished look.It was much nicer on the 63`s when Ford enclosed both of them.
I love this car, I had a 1962 Ranch Wagon with the 292 V8 and two speed slush box, it was very basic but also comfy, dead nuts reliable and so quiet inside .
I could see myself driving around in that red ’62 Ford sedan, and that would be cool. But I’d feel like kind of a dork piloting that Mayberry-mobile!
Our local sheriff has a ’63 Chevy police car, and that’s OK because an actual sheriff is driving it. However, it’s easy to see that it’s a conversion because an Impala would never be built as a police car (It would be a Biscayne).
At local car shows, it seems that a car is never good enough just being what it is. It has to be modified, hot-rodded, customized, or over-restored. There are few CC-type cars. Do you like a car because of what it IS, or what you can make it into?
OTOH, I was at an event where there was a ’69 Dodge Charger “General Lee” look-alike, along with a “Roscoe-mobile” made from a ’70s Dodge sedan. People got to sit behind the wheel and take pictures, girls dressed up like Daisy Duke, and it was a lot of fun! Would these cars have as much appeal if restored exactly to original?
From a nowaday`s profile , the 1962 Ford Fairlane looks so bland and annonymous.
Just seems a poor Falcon with a bigger trunk
As I recall, about 8-9 brown grocery bags (full) could sit side by side on the back seat.
If I ever see a Mayberry tribute car with that red interior, I’ll assume it’s yours.
That interior is pretty dramatic, and I wonder if it cast a spell over your dad at the auction. When I started reading this, I’d assumed that the car would languish and not get much use at all, so I’m glad to read that you’d actually driven it a bit.
I like the vintage late-’90s for-sale pictures too… and not a bad return on your investment there – doubling your money in ten years.
In my experience, the exposed shift rod and linkage like the ’62 was far “tighter” than any of the concentric shift columns from any of the vehicles of that era, including Fords. This became progressively more true as the vehicles aged. The exposed shift rod from several other manufacturers was not as crisp an arrangement, and early 50’s Chevys were noteworthy in this regard. Fords pre-’63 column shift mechanism was reminiscent of the good European column shifts of the same era.
An excellent written COAL, your writing style is always engaging. I remember being so fascinated when you introduced the techniques Missouri was testing for Interstate snow and ice removal. Made a dry topic, very interesting. I’ve noticed and stated a couple times at CC, the most commented on stories seem to always reflect the popularity (and reader experiences) of the topic car. If many people relate firsthand to, and have stories to share regarding said car, the comment count is high. Even if it’s just a simple pic. Love reading about early 60s cars, especially domestics, but I have very limited firsthand experiences with them. But learning new info, is a huge appeal of this site. Your writing really elevated a car without a background for me! Thank you.
Here’s another car I almost bought…it was kind of a champagne/green color four-door ’62 Galaxie. It was 2000/’01 and I was looking for a daily driver in a way that only a stupid young guy would do (it would be rusted into the ground within two years). I believe it was a 352 car, but the seller was asking $3500 and I remember noticing something in the front end that was worn out (upper control arm bushings, I believe). I thought the price was too high for what I was looking at, which was just as well, considering how I would have used the car.
Anyway, the 292 makes yours more interesting, in my opinion. I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked the sound of a Y-Block idling (it seems that their firing order is diffferent from the other Ford V8s of that time period).