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.
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.
The Galaxie shown here is
similar to the one Craig LaBue bought to build his
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.
||Stripped with steel
shot or sand blasted
coils cut 1", rear leafs flipped and 2"
lowering blocks installed
C6 with TCI internals, 10" 3000 stall, B&M
9" with limited slip, 3.70:1
based 501 Stroker
to bare metal, shaved and smoothed
||Martin Senour Base
Color Mauve. Betacolor Clear from Italy
|| Ford Probe front
seats. Custom leather & vinyl.
Sabre Wheels, 15x8 rears, 14x7 fronts
||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
||Auto Loc remote door
Specialties oval side view
18 circuit harness
Gel Cell mini battery
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 "