Text by J. Mikelonis. Photographs courtesy of the owner.

Craig LaBue of DuBois Pennsylvania is a 42 year old print business owner and avid hobbyist. Craig is unique since he shows little bias when it comes to automotive manufacturer's. He has built numerous musclecars including Camaros, Mustangs, Firebirds, GTO's, and Chevelles. However, his latest project caught our eye when he passed on musclecars, pony cars, and intermediates in order to customize a full size 1962 Ford Galaxie 500XL. Among the numerous customizations he perfomed on this project, a 501 cubic-inch stroker motor was installed. The Galaxie 500XL is now dubbed "501XL" to reflect the radical appearance and stroked 460.

The Galaxie shown here is similar to the one Craig LaBue bought to build his 501XL.
Like most of us, Craig is always on the watch for older cars. One day on a delivery run Craig noticed the full size burgundy 1962 Galaxie 500 XL. He was not immediately impressed with the car but kept an eye on it over the next few weeks and slowly it grew on him. The car was in solid condition but very worn with cracked glass, faded paint, and torn interior. Considering the condition, the asking price was a bit steep at $4500. With some research Craig found that the car was not a low production model. He made contact with the owner and after 2 months of contemplation the owner made and offer Craig could not refuse. He bought the car for $2500.

Building the 501XL
With sixteen project cars under his belt, Craig decided to tackle this one the right way. He built an addition to his office building to accomodate the project. He put in a Back Yard Buddy Lift, bought a MIG welder, a plasma cutter, and a barrel bead blaster. Now he had all the tools required to do a car correctly. Most of Craig's inspiration came from the attention to detail and uncluttered buildups showcased in street rodder magazines. Additionally, after many years of experience he learned that space and tools can assist you in reaching your project goals. Some of the more involved work performed over the past six years on Craig's Galaxie is listed in the table below.

Project Quick List
Chassis Stripped with steel shot or sand blasted
Lowering Front coils cut 1", rear leafs flipped and 2" lowering blocks installed
Brakes Crites front discs
Transmission Built C6 with TCI internals, 10" 3000 stall, B&M Ratchet Shifter
Rear End Ford 9" with limited slip, 3.70:1
Motor 460 based 501 Stroker
Bodywork Stripped to bare metal, shaved and smoothed
Paint Martin Senour Base Color Mauve. Betacolor Clear from Italy
Interior Ford Probe front seats. Custom leather & vinyl.
Wheels Centerline Billet Sabre Wheels, 15x8 rears, 14x7 fronts
Tires BF Goodrich Radial TA 275/60/15 rears, 205/70/14 fronts

Sometimes the most creative and respectable modifications made to a project car are not always easy to recognize, especially if you are not familiar with the stock appearance of a specific make. The"Trick" list below highlights the discrete customizations Craig made to his original 62 Galaxie.

Project "Trick" List
Doors Auto Loc remote door solenoids
Bumpers Crites fiberglass
Wipers Zoops billet
Mirrors Billet Specialties oval side view
Starter Hitachi mini
Wiring Painless 18 circuit harness
Battery Reactor Gel Cell mini battery
Pulleys March Billet multi-rib belt pulley system

Complete and Ready for Showing
Nothing is more satisfying than showing your car after many years of hard work. In this case the 501XL took Craig LaBue six years to complete. Here is testimonial from Craig covering his experiences showing his car at various car shows during the summer 2003 season -

"On July 3rd 2003 I put down my wrench and stared at my beautiful car, complete enough for the Independence Day Festival Car Show in Brockway. I enjoyed a day of compliments, smiles, and pictures. I won the modified class and made the front page of our local paper. Though it was a small local show, I was very pleased with the response the 501XL received. A few weeks later I went a local cruise that had a Good Guys Giveaway Car. People were blown away by the Galaxie and many claimed my car was more impressive than the Giveaway car. It got me thinking about hitting a big show to see how the 501XL would do.

I went to the Car Craft Magazine Show at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading on July 23rd and 24th. I've been going to these big national shows since I was a teenager as a spectator only. What was different this time was that I had a car to display. It has always been my dream to have a car at this level to show and be a part of the action. I sat for 2 hours in a line of traffic to get in without any overheating problems. I idled at 900 rpm with temp never getting over 180 degrees. The car only had 300 miles on it since the rebuild. So, to say the least I was very happy with the mechanical performance of the car. But how would it fare against Pro Built cars costing 3 to 4 times my home built baby was the question.

Well, to make a long story short, I was awarded a Top Ten Award on Sunday. I received Overall Runner Up for Interior, Stewart Warner Award for a complete compliment of gauges and even got some air time with ESPN2. The coolest thing was, before the presentation of the awards, the MC called car numbers for the owners to fire them up and bring them into a circle amongst their peers and onlookers of 500 people of so. I think about a dozen cars were selected to represent the field. That day these cars were considered to be the best cars on display. As my car's number was called, I had to double check to see if I was hearing correctly. I looked at my #76 tag and was overwhelmed. We all got in, fired our cars up and slowly made our way to the circle while everyone there admired our cars.

I was sitting there actually a bit choked up to be honest. It was then that all the hard work and friendships formed through our car hobby became apparent. This car and I have come a long way from 6 years ago when a beat up old full size Ford sitting behind a small town garage and I first met. - Craig LaBue "

In This Article:
A profile of a customized 1962 Ford Galaxie 500XL built and owned by Craig LaBue of DuBois, PA.

Original seats were replaced with Ford Probe buckets. Custom leather and vinyl interior stitched by Chris Trout of Sabula, PA

Stock bumpers were replaced with Crites fiberglass.

Craig kept some of the original moldings to preserve the stylish period design elements

On the other hand, these current aftermarket side view mirrors by Billet Specialties serve the 1962 body lines well.

A 501 460-based stroker motor with Holley dominator powers the Galaxie. Hence the project name "501 XL" rather than the original 500 XL.
Motor Profile
Block 460
Displacement 501 Stroker
Heads Ford Motorsport Aluminum Cobra Jet
Compression 10.3:1
Cam Crane Hydraulic, .590 lift with 290 duration intake, .614 lift with 300 duration exhaust
Intake Edelbrock Victor single plane
Carburetor Holley Dominator 1050

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