Thursday, December 25, 2014

Car collector corner: 1963 Ford Galaxie 427 Lightweight

At a public car gathering, two early model vehicles sit on display on a grass surface. Vehicle in foreground, a Chevolet Corvette, and vehicle in back, a Ford Galaxy 500 with hood up and engine revealed.
At a public car gathering, two early model vehicles sit on display on a grass surface. Vehicle in foreground, a Chevolet Corvette, and vehicle in back, a Ford Galaxy 500 with hood up and engine revealed. iStock

Q: Hello Greg and I want you to know I get awful upset hearing about how great the '63 Chevy was. I think the '63 Ford was the better looking car and is much rarer on the classic car market.

What's your opinion of the 1963 Ford Galaxie? Also, can you give some info on the special lightweight 427 Galaxie that Ford released as a 1963 1/2 model? I know they didn't make many at all. Bill H, New Hampshire.

A: Bill, without taking sides in a Ford versus Chevy discussion, the 1963 Fords were very good looking cars. Additionally, it was in 1963 that you could finally buy a 427 dual quad Galaxie "R Code" that put out 425 horses and ran very well at the drag strip. A single 4-barrel 427 developed 405 horses.

On the NASCAR ovals, Ford won the 1963 NASCAR manufacturer championship with 427 Galaxies, racing with one four barrel as per rules. The most famous 1963 Ford NASCAR entries came from the Wood Brothers and Holman-Moody, with drivers like Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts and Tiny Lund winning some big races for them.

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  • As for the lightweight Galaxie, I had the pleasure of seeing them race many times in person and they were very special indeed. As for being rare, consider the fact that Ford built 5,000 Galaxies that came with the 427 engine, but only 212 were lightweights that were built especially for drag racers.

    Built on the Galaxie fastback model, the lightweight came with a 427 "NASCAR style" high performance engine but with two four barrel carbs instead of one. The transmission was a Borg Warner T-10 four speed and the front end featured fiberglass body panels instead of aluminum, which was the choice of Chevy in its similar Z-11 drag racing inspired 1963 Impala. However, Ford did use aluminum for the bumpers while the interiors were pretty much void of any comforts or conveniences. Ford even used cardboard for the sun visors and door armrests were not available.

    In addition to using fiberglass for the front end, Ford also utilized fiberglass for the trunk, too, making the '63 1/2 lightweight Galaxie very competitive on the strip. The lightweights came with a nodular iron nine-inch rear end case and a gear ratio of your choice. If you did not select a ratio when ordering, it came with a 4.11 gear set.

    Recent Mecum Auction prices are over $100,000 easy, and experts expect prices to go to higher in the future...if you can find one.

    AP