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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Galaxie 500: 1964

Galaxie 500: 1964

June 23, 1964. "Ford showroom in Wheaton, Maryland." 35mm negative by Warren K. Leffler for U.S. News & World Report. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Hill & Sanders

It's the showroom of Hill & Sanders Ford 11250 Veirs Mill Rd, Wheaton, MD

My Galaxie 500 Today

I have owned this 1966 Galaxie 500 since September 1997. It just celebrated its 50th birthday in May, which makes it as old now as the Model T touring car in the background of the showroom. My car is unrestored and perfectly driveable, and was purchased from the original owner. Galaxie 500s that survive today are but a mere number of the thousands that were produced.

Just like my father's car.

Flashback to my post over 4 years ago with my late father's '64 Galaxie 500XL you can see here.

Kraft paper on the windows

Though ours was a GM family, after they stopped making DeSotos, I was fascinated by the Ford Mustang. I remember our school bus driving by the Ford dealer in Houma, Louisiana, and seeing the windows covered in Kraft paper. Mysterious and tantalizing! A few of us rode our bikes there one Saturday to see whether we could sneak a better look, but were given the bum's rush.

My friends and I--all of whom were too young to drive--would bring our Motor Trend and Car and Driver magazines to school and discuss all the new cars that were coming out. I thought the Camaro was the most elegant design around but the Olds Toronado was, to me, the most beautiful American car ever.

I was so upset when, in spite of my pleading, my mom bought a new '67 Riviera GS.

Galaxie fastback roof

It was actually introduced mid-year 1963. tomincantonga is correct in that it was for aerodynamics and racing. These Galaxies were called 1963½ models and it was the first half-year model introduction ever.

Also, that stripped Custom 1964 would have been a 427, as that engine replaced the 406 partway through the 1963 model year to take advantage of NHRA and NASCAR maximum engine size of 7 liters. It was rated at 425 HP with two four-barrel Holley carbs. No doubt, this was a conservative rating.

My first "decent" car after getting married was a 1964 Galaxie hardtop coupe. It had the little 289 V8 engine. With a little tinkering I found that I could get around 19 mpg on the road by advancing the ignition timing and using premium gas. With the timing set for regular gas the mileage (and power) would drop to about 17 mpg.

So much room under the hood

You could sleep one adult and two children!

Easy breezy

Back when you could work on your own car without a need for an engineering, and computer specialist degrees!

Cushy comfort

I always thought the old large sized bias-ply tires looked sharp.

The 390 and the 406 engines

could never keep up with the 409 Chevrolet power plant. Running the single 4 barrel carb the 409 was a beast.

Not so fast...

Regarding VictrolaJazz’s comments regarding the degree of improvement in cars from 1920-1964 vs 1964-2016, I respectfully beg to differ. Straight line 0-60 time is only a tiny part of the whole picture. More important things like reliability, durability, drivability, functionality, and especially safety of cars didn’t improve as much from 1920 to 1964 as they have from 1964 to 2016.

Got my license the day they started makin' Mustangs!

I cruised the local Ford dealer regularly as my license was burning a hole in my pocket. Newly minted, it was my key to freedom. I remember seeing the first Mustang, $2368 base price, FOB Dearborn. Shipping to Indianapolis was $53. There was also an original Cobra, I think with a 289, fenced off from lookie-loos, with the oddball rear facing shift lever. A drag-race version of the Ford Custom 2-door, with heater, radio and rear-seat delete options, in whitest-of-white made an appearance also. It had a 4-on-the-floor and a 406 under the hood, and black sidewall tires. Carpet? Ha, rubber floor mats did the job just fine. Compared alongside the 4-door hardtop next to it, a Galaxie 500 with front bucket seats and a floor-mounted Cruise-O-Matic shift lever, it was a stripped wasteland.

The new 'feature' of the 64 full-size models was the dual-action lower A-arm front suspension, which allowed the wheel to 'kick back' when it encountered a pothole. Most were replaced when tire wear became a factor.

When winning NASCAR races became problematic with the T-Bird style chopped roofline, a fastback model was rushed into production.

The Tin Lizzie in the background

was at that time about the same age as the cars in the showroom are today, but look at how much progress had been made in that same number of years. By contrast, the '64s could still look at home on any street and compete in virtually any contest with a modern car in creature comforts and performance if it had the optional 406! There were no flies on the 390 either.

Never a 64 and thats not the "half" of it!

The Mustangs went on sale in April of 64 but were always classified as 65 models. Over the years the early 65's have picked up the 64 and a half designation but they were always 65's to be accurate.

Fords Galore

I’m not a “car guy” at all, and even I can spot a few interesting items here! At least two Mustangs lurk in the background, as the salesman wears a blazer emblazoned with the Mustang logo (first year they were offered, right?). There’s also a Thunderbird back there, and then outside, or in whatever the next space beyond the showroom glass is, there’s a Christopher Helin-era car getting some attention.

Later in 64

The salesman is wearing a Mustang emblem on his jacket so the picture is after April 64 I would guess.

Ah, the Galaxie

My first car was my Grandpa's '67 Galaxie 500, with a 390 engine in it, affectionately called "The Slimemobile".

Fun to drive, for a boat.

I used to like to Armorall the back seat, take my friends for a non-seatbelted ride, and take the corners hard.

Good times.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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