My 1963 Ford Galaxie, Part 3: A Year In The Life


Over the last several years, I have developed Jason’s Theorem of Automobiles.  My theorem states all cars are built to mimic a thirty-five year old human.  At 35, one is mature, everything works, nothing sags, and most are free of squeaks, creaks, and rattles.

When one has a car that is nearly fifty-two years old, it is comparable to an 87 year old.  A few leaks and ailments are to be expected.  You can stave them off, but it’s only a matter of time until something emerges elsewhere.

Galaxie in 1987-1

Summer 1987


In the fourteen months since having revived my 1963 Galaxie, it has gone a long way to transition my theorem into something demonstrable.

When the last article about the old Galaxie appeared on October 15, 2013, it was sprinkled with happiness about it again being roadworthy.  Yes, we schedule our articles here in advance as on that very day the Galaxie was about to visit the repair shop with what turned out to be a faulty accelerator pump and a few other maladies that promoted severe backfiring through the carburetor.  In other words, it was dead in the water.

galaxie on trailer

Yes, I actually use my crew cab pickup.

I should quit swearing; I swore I would never put this car on a trailer again.

The Galaxie was fixed and ready to go shortly before winter arrived.  To its credit, the Galaxie sat through a very long and cold winter unscathed.  Upon the weather hitting 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it was time to awaken her from her slumber.


On the second twist of the key she sprang to life as if having been ran the previous day.

Driving on old car is only part of the joy of ownership.  The conversations and situations your car will prompt complete the experience.  Two examples stand out.

When spring finally hit, I took the Galaxie to the Ford dealer for an oil change.  Upon arriving I courteously informed the manager the car is equipped with a three-on-the-tree.  She suddenly had a deer in the headlights look  and three other people emerged from the office.  It seems a three-speed was some sort of mythological creature to them, a wild polka-dot unicorn they all wanted to see.  One of them believed his uncle may have once had a pickup with one, so apparently my Galaxie is one of a small herd of unicorns.  What a relief.


This place has a very strict, no exemptions ever under any circumstance policy that does not allow customers to drive their cars into the service bays.  A few minutes later, as I was easing the Galaxie into the service bay and onto the ramp, I heard someone exclaim “That is one big old bitch!”  How quaint.

The technician servicing the car quickly became perplexed.  He was scouring the interior for the hood release.  After letting him sweat for a few moments, I told him to lift the emblem in the center of the grille.  He was very appreciative.

Several of the technicians started guessing which was older and heavier – the Galaxie or the mothers of their co-workers.


Later, sometime in July, I stopped to get fuel.  As I got out, a lady sitting in an Explorer next to me smiled and asked if the Galaxie was a 1963 model.  Upon my confirmation, she smiled and said, “My daddy had a ’63 Galaxie.  We drove it all over Europe.”

It seems her father was in the military and was stationed in Turkey.  How their Galaxie got to Turkey she did not remember, but upon his being reassigned to Spain they drove their Galaxie to their new home.  Somewhere in Spain, as they were away from the car, somebody painted “Yankee Go Home” all down one side.  Upon seeing it, her father shrugged and said that was his intention.  After his discharge, their Galaxie was sent back to the United States and he drove it, with its unwanted adornment, until around 1990 when it succumbed to an electrical fire.


This first year was nicely bookended with annoying problems in both Octobers.  In October of this year, two days after arriving back from the CC Meetup in Auburn, I fired up the Galaxie for my drive to work.  As I backed out and stopped to close the door, my right foot went the floor.

Thinking of the encouragement about installing a dual circuit master cylinder in Part 2 of this trilogy, I decided I would indeed install one if the problem was anywhere near there.


Well, the problem was in the rear.  Giving the brake system the complete once over, and bolstering my daughters knowledge on how to bleed brakes, the leak was around the distribution block on the rear axle.  It was allowing fluid to dribble on the axle side and arc out on the rear of the axle housing.  Squatting down to look at it, I had the unsettling realization I had cleaned the distribution block near the front axle, but had not touched this one when I rebuilt the braking system.  Soaking this block in parts cleaner for a week and remounting it seems (and I emphasize the word seems) to have remedied the leak.

Another head-scratcher was in May or June.

Jeff City via Google Maps

Jefferson City has deceptive topography.  If one were to drive through on US 50, 54, or 63, it would seem the town consists of some combination of flat ground with gently rolling hills.  In actuality, there are some annoyingly steep hills one must navigate when traversing on city streets.  One Saturday morning, I was pulling a rather long hill of about 7% to 8 % grade in second overdrive.  My foot was on the floor and it would not downshift into second direct as it should have.  Around this same time it was becoming rather hard to start.

After pestering inquiring with aaron65 about fuel experiences in his old cars, I probed the Galaxie a bit further.  Pouring a little fuel into the carburetor allowed the old girl to start as quickly as a new fuel-injected engine, thus the problem was receiving fuel.  Swapping out the fuel pump restored proper downshifting when in overdrive and starting the engine when cold became much easier.


There are still many things from which the old Galaxie would benefit.  This emblem broke during the last washing.  The teeth on the distributor are slightly worn, not allowing precise engine timing.  The interior is still brittle, torn, and stained.  It still needs the chrome strip on the left front door re-installed.  The hood is from a ’64 Galaxie and it doesn’t like to close without provocation.  I haven’t even put the wheel covers back on it from the brake issue.  Weekend projects, all.


Frontal decoration courtesy of a wood post.

In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck described the Jobe Family Truckster as being capable of going to hell and back on its belly.  It had lived a hard life, a term that could accurately describe my old Galaxie.  Having seen family duty, brief police service, neglect, long-term storage, lack of maintenance, and an ultimate resurrection, this Galaxie has experienced a multitude in her 76,000 miles.  I just hope the frequency of events dwindles.

This three-part saga has chronicled a very ordinary 1963 Ford Galaxie from dormancy to vibrancy.  Perhaps not so ordinary; I’ve only seen one other ’63 Galaxie with a three-speed and no others with overdrive.  At any rate, I’m correlating this series to the number of gears with which Ford granted this Galaxie.  If Ford figured three was adequate, I will follow suit.  The adventures will undoubtedly continue, but the herculean steps to get there are now over.  While an early winter precluded more adventures for 2014, the arrival of spring will certainly contain fodder for new adventures.  I’m optimistic spring will arrive early in 2015.


Related reading:

Part 1

Part 2

Curbside Classic:  1963 Ford Galaxie Sedan