It warms the cockles of my heart whenever I hear stories of classic cars kept as heirlooms; driven and maintained until the day a loving father hands a car off to his deserving child. Since both share the machine and, as is often the case, devote themselves to maintaining it, the two are bonded by an experience that few inanimate objects can offer.
In this case, the current owner’s father bought this eye-catching Ford Galaxie new in 1966 and drove it extensively. When the clock ticked past 100,000 miles, it was time for his son to write a new new chapter.
The son wanted the machine to look like he’d stepped in a time machine and plucked the car out of a scene from five decades ago. There aren’t many of these cars around — the 7-Litre Registry claims that there are 466 1966 hardtops known to exist today — all the more reason to ensure this beauty remains in strong running condition. Since the Galaxie isn’t a car that’s as well-established, as, say, a Camaro, “tremendous fabrication is necessary,” according to Kevin Oeste, owner of V8 Speed & Resto Shop, who performed the lion’s share of the restoration on this aging Galaxie.
Their first order of business was topping the frame had with epoxy primer, and then coating it all with Axalta Imron industrial satin black paint. This offers a factory-style sheen, but with the added corrosion protection of a base layer of epoxy. Once the epoxy cured, they coated the entire chassis with 3M Body Defender.
It was intended to be quiet and quick; fast but not conspicuous. With the frame removed, they took the opportunity to rebuild refresh the motor, but also to extract a few more ponies. With 345 HP and 463 lb. ft. of torque from the factory, there’d be more than enough power — but why not take the opportunity to squeeze a little more out of the mill?
First, they sent the crank out to be machined down .001-inch, but when the crank slipped in the fixture and was damaged beyond repair, they had to search for a new slew of parts. In went a new crank, new gaskets, and a new bearing set. Additionally, they installed a Demon carburetor and an Edelbrock water pump before bolting a Magnaflow exhaust to help the 428 make its presence known. They then covered the block and heads were prepped and painted with Eastwood ceramic engine paint for a tasteful, understated engine bay.
With the powertrain sorted out, V8 Speed & Resto turned its attention to the exterior. Though the car looked sound on the outside, plenty of midwestern miles meant major rust. Most of the quarter panels were corroded, and as there are few reproduction panels of this type on the market, they had to get creative. After securing some repair sections for the two-piece panel, they worked their magic — though getting the sections to seem seamless was no mean feat.
In total, the repair sections, both stamped differently from the other, only comprised about forty percent of the entire quarter panels, and grinding the sections to look near factory was a challenge. Once the bodywork was complete,V8 Speed & Resto re-tubbed the rear as the tubs were corroded as well. After the crew patched the panels, they had to prepare the body fastidiously before any bronze paint could be laid down.
I needed exactly the same pressure throughout, otherwise certain sections of the car would appear shinier than others. — Jeff Whitlich, V8 Speed & Resto
V8 Speed & Resto’s painter, Jeff Whitlich, now had the project and its future in his hands. Therefore, when painting the car with the metallic bronze, he had to tread lightly.
“I needed exactly the same pressure throughout, otherwise certain sections of the car would appear shinier than others,” he said. “It took a whole lot of concentration.”
In total, the bodywork and painting took a scarcely believable two months. However, considering how the owner wanted the Galaxie to look like a photograph from 1966, they were wise to take their time.
Inside, they refinished some of the interior bits with the same satin finish Emberglo paint and introduced some new upholstery for some simple style points. They treated the original door panels and dyed the carpets to bring back a little of the original color, and so the cabin felt warm and comfortable, and, most importantly, served as a glimpse into the past.
For footwear, they sandblasted, epoxied, and and sprayed gloss black paint over the original 15×5.5-inch Kelsey Hayes wheels. Then, they polished the original 7-Litre hubcaps, repainted the center medallions, and threw on a set of whitewalls for some era-correct spiffiness. These rollers don’t quite fill the fender wells, but they do provide an athletic stance without looking too racy.
While this is certainly a nice car — one of the prettier restoration jobs we’ve seen in some time — it was meant to be driven and enjoyed. No pristine garage queen, this Galaxie is regularly hits the streets and drives quite nicely with the narrow tires and comfortable suspension. However, due to those overhangs and general girth, it requires a little care when negotiating tight spots, but the Galaxie does command respect wherever it goes.
“Cars slightly off the mark, like this Galaxie, are very restorable, but they take more resources and time than a mainstay car like a Camaro,”Kevin Oeste noted. However, if you’re going for an understated sense of style and individuality, there’s no other way.
“Since this Galaxie was a family heirloom, it was worth every dime,” Kevin said affectionately.