Curbside Classic: 1963 Ford Galaxie Sedan – No 500, This…

5-15-2014 020 (800x533)

(first posted 6/5/2014)    Ford Galaxie. The name just rolls off the tongue, and is right up there with “Mustang” and “Thunderbird” in the best Ford model names of all time. Introduced in 1959 as the top-of-the-line Ford, it lasted all the way to 1974, though it was overshadowed by the LTD in its later years. Why Ford doesn’t utilize the name today is beyond me, but say “Ford Galaxie” and I am instantly transported to the classy sedans and coupes of the ’60s. Like this one.

1963 Ford Galaxie-05

1963 was a big year for Ford. The old 292 Y-block that had originated in ’54 was finally retired, replaced with leaner, meaner small-block 260 and 289 V8s. The full-sized Ford was treated to a handsome facelift, and the mid-year Sports Hardtop was the flashiest big Ford you could get.

1963 Ford Brochure-14-15

While the show-stopping Mustang was still a year away, there was still much to enjoy in FoMoCo showrooms, including the lovely Thunderbird, dressy Galaxie 500s, and pretty little Falcon Futuras, among others.

1963 Ford-a10

And while the compacts and midsizers were gaining traction (and that would increase exponentially), the full-size Ford was Dearborn’s bread-and-butter. A full lineup of two- and four-door sedans, two- and four-door hardtops, convertibles and six- and nine-passenger station wagons were available, with a long, long list of optional extras to make your Ford as dressy or as basic as you wanted.

5-15-2014 005 (800x474)

Today’s CC is the mid-line model, and added a chrome side molding and twin fender-top ornaments over the base-level 300 trim, along with a much less taxicab-like interior. I believe that hubcaps were standard, and the full wheel covers and whitewall tires seen here were optional.

5-15-2014 006 (800x546)

A Galaxie Six four-door ran you $2507, or $2616 with the base V8. The standard V8 was the 260 CID unit with 164 hp @ 4400 rpm and a Holley two-barrel. A 2 BBL, 195 hp 289 was the next step up, and beyond that were the big blocks,  with a 427 sitting at the top of the heap. Galaxies were only available in a two-door or four-door sedan, and a total of 82,419 Galaxie sedans were made that year. That included both Six and V8 models, as the figures were not broken down by engine type.

5-15-2014 007 (800x533)

A grand total of 112,754 Galaxies were made, which doesn’t sound bad at all until you see that the fancier Galaxie 500 sold 440,526 units. Of course, the G500 included a two-door hardtop, fastback two-door hardtop, four-door hardtop and convertible, but it is still rather clear than most folks wanted the nicer interior and added trim of the 500 model.

5-15-2014 008 (800x533)

Even the top-of-the-line Galaxie 500XL sold within almost 20K units of the plain ol’ Galaxie, with 94,730 hardtop coupes, hardtop sedans and convertibles coming off the line. But the early ’60s were a prosperous time, and it seemed most people wanted all the gadgets, gizmos and extra chrome trim they could get! All 1963 big Fords sat upon a 119″ wheelbase and had a 209″ overall length. Standard tires were 7.50×14 bias plies except for station wagons, which received 8.00x14s.

5-15-2014 009 (800x533)

And yes folks, this CC was for sale. Nice ’60s four-door sedans are so underrated. Everyone wants a GTO, Mustang or GTX with a big honkin’ four-barrel V8. And don’t get me wrong, I like those cars too. But they are a bit dear for most folks these days, and I am of the opinion that a nice Galaxie like this can be just as fun to play with and take to cruises in the summertime.

5-15-2014 010 (800x563)

Before writing this car up I shared pictures of it with our resident 1963 Ford expert, Jason Shafer. I was of the opinion that $6500 was a little high for a non-500 four-door sedan. But thanks to Jason, I discovered that these plain Galaxies are a fair bit rarer than the more upmarket Galaxie 500, and given the car’s excellent original condition, the price is actually not bad.

5-15-2014 011 (800x493)

Out back, Galaxies had simplified trim, consisting of a smaller garnish panel with horizontal lines in lieu of the 500’s more elaborate version with “checkerboard” trim. Galaxies also lost the 500’s “gunsight” overlay on the rocket-ship taillights.

5-15-2014 012 (800x495)

From the side, a simple mid-body side molding was utilized, and there were no rear-fender “gills” as seen on the 500. But even with the simple trim, a Galaxie such as this equipped with whitewalls and full wheel covers was still a handsome car. A good design will still look attractive even in the lower trim levels, and this car proves it.

1963 Ford-a11

In 1962, for one year only, the cheapest full-size Ford you could get was–a Galaxie. The Custom was discontinued, and all ’62 Fords were Galaxies, with the Galaxie 500 the mid-range model and buckets-and-console 500XL the top of the range.

1963 Ford Brochure-16

However, it was short lived, and a Ford “300” appeared for 1963 to brighten the day for cheapskates everywhere. It was a one-year wonder, and instead of “Galaxie” script on the front fender, it said simply “Ford” to let everyone know what a tightwad you were! It appeared to have been a late addition to the 1963 lineup, however, as it was not shown in the full-line brochure.

5-15-2014 015 (800x571)

So, with the 1963 Galaxie newly upgraded to middle-range status, the interior and trim was nicer, with two-toning and chrome trim on both the door panels and dash. An automatic was still optional, though, but this one does indeed sport the column-shifted Ford-O-Matic.

5-15-2014 016 (800x594)

Out back, there was plenty of stretch-out room, and plenty of glass area too. You see, back then, automakers actually built cars you could see out of, rather than today’s cars with little storm-the-castle loopholes and A-pillars bigger than your head.

5-15-2014 014 (800x533)

This was a nice car in its day, perhaps the 1960s equivalent to a Camry LE: nothing super fancy or flashy, but quiet, comfortable and competent. Perfect for Dad to drive to the office in, while leaving the Chevrolet Brookwood or Ford Country Sedan at home for Mom.

5-15-2014 013 (800x533)

Even on a mid-trim model, this car had a lot of cool details, such as the tri-tone emblem on the wheel covers and those cool front fender ornaments. They are like tasteful jewelry; they enhance the looks while not overpowering the whole design.

5-15-2014 017 (800x519)

I happened across this car just a few weeks ago. It was in very good condition and very complete. It also appeared to be very well cared for, as the paint appeared to be original, and all the chrome and polished stainless trim was extremely nice. Not a perfect car, but one that clearly had been loved by however many owners it has had over the past fifty-one years. I hope whoever purchases this car respects its originality.

5-15-2014 018 (800x474)

The light yellow paint, full wheel covers and whitewall tires all appealed to me very much and quietly whispered early 1960s prosperity and good times. I missed the ’60s by about 10 years but cars like this–and reruns of The Andy Griffith Show!–give me a strong impression of what once was.

5-15-2014 019 (800x533)