Restoring the Dockery Ford Galaxie with Auto Metal Direct

A little over a year ago, a car that many believed to be lost forever resurfaced. The car in question is a 1963 Ford Galaxie lightweight and it is definitely one rare old Ford. To many, it was known as the “Dockery Ford Galaxie” as it was campaigned in the ‘60s by Morristown, New Jersey’s Dockery Ford dealership. The “Albino,” as it was nicknamed, was raced by Bob and Barbara Martin for a couple of years before it went on its way to become a street car before vanishing.

The car sat hidden for decades before my father, Scott Davies, and his best friend, Ed Shanley, got a hot tip that led them to the Galaxie, hidden under piles of boxes in someone’s home garage in New Jersey. I was lucky enough to be along for the ride when they rescued the old girl. You can read more about the car’s history and the rescue here.

The Galaxie on the day it was found with Davies (left) and Shanley.

Now, following the rescue, it’s time for the restoration to continue. We reached out to our friends at Auto Metal Direct to see if they could help us out with a major issue facing our new project car: its trunk. This restoration project is not meant to be a frame-off, rotisserie restoration of any kind. Instead, the pair has decided to restore it to as-raced condition while allowing it to bear the scars and stories of its life. This won’t be a perfect Galaxie, but rather an homage to the life the car has lived and its time on the drag strip. In fact, it will return to the drag strip once it’s in running condition.

New Sheet Metal

But back to AMD — we chatted with Michael Gray and he let us know that AMD’s Galaxie product list is pretty extensive and growing all the time. He got us all squared away with the parts needed for our Galaxie, which included the OE-style Trunk Floor with braces (PN: 800-8963), and the left and right-hand Trunk Floor Extensions (PN: 840-8963-L, 840-8963-R). The floor extensions are built to fill the gap between the edge of the trunk floor and the bottom of the quarter panel.

The AMD parts arrived at Davies' home before being loaded into his first generation Ford Lightning for transport to the body shop.

The Trunk Floor is designed to fit 1961-1963 Galaxies as well as Mercury Montereys in all models except station wagon and sedan delivery, while the floor extensions fit just 1963 Galaxies (wagons not included). AMD says that each of these parts is made on the company’s exclusive new tools, with each floor stamped from high-quality OE 19-gauge steel. The designs feature the correct shape, size, bends, holes, and ribs, with the trunk floor braces and rear cross brace pre-welded onto the trunk floor. Each part is EDP coated to protect against rust and corrosion. The floor weighs about 57 pounds and retails for $399.99, while the extensions weigh about 5 pounds each and retail for $179.99 each.

The Installation

We enlisted the help of The Body Works restoration shop in Midland Park, New Jersey, where owner Sam Eletto made super quick work of the repair. The Body Works deals with all kinds of rare, historic, and classic cars (and had several other projects in the shop being fitted with AMD products), so we trusted the beloved Galaxie was in good hands.

At some point in its life, a previous owner had installed a donor trunk, most likely because of rot. It did, afterall, sit outside in the elements for a whole decade, and the fiberglass decklid didn’t seal correctly to the trunk gutter. Therefore, water pooled in the trunk floor, giving it reason to rust away. The donor trunk floor came from another white Galaxie, but was installed very crudely. It was cut out completely to make room for the new AMD part.

Left to right, top to bottom: The access hole was cut before the rest of the trunk could be removed from the inside. The gas tank filler was cut to fit the new trunk floor, the lip was cleaned so it could be welded, and the wheelhouses were trimmed. All factory pinch welds were removed, as were the sides.

When the Galaxie was dropped off for her facelift, Davies and Shanley had already removed all of the body bolts, and the body was ready to be lifted off the frame. As you can see, Eletto started by cutting an access hole in the trunk floor so that he could work from the inside. Once he was able to easily access every corner of the trunk, he went in and removed everything that needed to be cut out to make room for the new trunk, shaving down the lip on the gas tank filler neck and cleaning it so that it could be cleanly welded. The wheelhouses were also trimmed, and were found to be in great shape. All of the factory pinch welds were removed, as were the sides of the trunk. The edge of the interior floor was cleaned as well, in preparation to be welded to the new trunk floor.

The seam where the new trunk floor will meet the interior floor of the car is cleaned and prepared for welding. The trunk was completely removed, as was the tow board at the very back of the trunk.

The remainder of the “original” floor was removed completely, as was the tow board at the very back of the trunk. The only piece remaining in the rear was the taillight panel. After the gas filler was cleaned up, the tail panel was removed on both the passenger and driver side.

The tail panel was removed and the body was lifted off the frame and jacked up about 8-10 inches to allow the new trunk to slide into place without removing or replacing the quarter panels. A lift was used and rollers were placed under the tires so it could be moved as needed during the installation. In the far right picture, you see a can of Weld Through primer, used to protect the bare metal.

At this point, the body was lifted up off the frame using the shop’s two-post lift. As you can see in the pictures, the body was lifted about 8-10 inches off the frame to give the team plenty of room to slide the new trunk floor into place.

The floor sat in the shop behind the Galaxie before being slid into place and spot welded.

As we said in the beginning of this story, the intention of restoring this Galaxie is to retain as much of the original sheet metal as humanly possible. Normally to complete this installation, the quarter panels would be removed. AMD offers replacement quarter panels, and if we had been planning on swapping those panels out, now would be a great time to do so, but we had different intentions. The original quarter panels were in pretty great shape, save for a little rot on the very bottom.

The process of welding the trunk floor into place included measuring, adjusting, spot welding, and finally, permanently welding. Top right, you can see the spot welds where the trunk floor meets the tail board of the car. Bottom left shows the spot welds to the wheelhouse, as well as the factory bracing which is included with the trunk floor. “It has everything it’s supposed to have," said Davies of the kit, "It really does.” The bottom right photo shows where the new floor meets the interior floor. Screws were temporarily used like a clamp for alignment purposes before being replaced by spot welds.

Since we weren’t removing the quarter panels, Eletto originally thought he might need to cut the floor in half to make it fit, but he found a way around that! The floor was slid in between the frame and the body, and fit like a glove.

Right, you can see the aforementioned holes (previously filled with screws) being welded. Left, the trunk installed with seam sealer applied.

Once the floor was in place, it was double checked before welding it permanently into the Galaxie. Once the floor was completely welded in, Eletto made quick work of the quarter panel repair and trunk floor extensions. This part was pretty simple. A MIG welder was used to weld each side to the floor of the trunk in the factory location. They hang straight down, and the quarter panel hooks to them to close up the trunk.

Right to left: Eletto marked where he needed to cut the quarter panel to remove the existing rot. The quarter panels were patched, and the trunk extension panels installed.

As you can see in the pictures, Eletto cut the rot off of the quarter panels and made replacement panels, welding them into place before attaching the trunk extensions. He used several clamps to get the pieces as square as possible before welding all around to seal and prevent future rot.

The car was finally ready to be lowered back onto its frame. The final product was complete!

With this part complete, the body was ready to be dropped back onto the frame. With the Galaxie back in one piece, Davies and Shanley returned to bring the car back to their “headquarters” to continue on with the restoration. It’ll soon go into the paint booth for a fresh coat of Corinthian White, during which the inside of the trunk will also be sealed and painted. We look forward to seeing progress in returning the storied Ford to its former glory!

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About the author

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff got her start in automotive media while attending Rutgers. She worked for Roush Performance for a while, before eventually landing here at Power Automedia. Her Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox-body drag car is her prized possession.
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