Ford Galaxie 500 XL Convertible

For 1963, Ford saw no reason to radically change a good thing, and the 1963 model was essentially unchanged save for some freshening and added trim; windshields were reshaped and a four-door hardtop 500/XL was added. A lower, fastback roofline was added mid-year to improve looks and make the big cars more competitive on the NASCAR tracks with the added downforce. This 1963½ model, the industry's first official "½ year" model, was called the "Sports Roof" or "Fastback" (it shared this feature with the in 1963½ Falcon). Galaxie buyers showed their preference as the new SportsRoof models handily outsold the "boxtop" square-roof models. The SportsRoof was available in both Galaxie 500, and Galaxie 500/XL trim. As to be expected, sister Mercury also received the SportsRoof in Monterey, Montclair, and Park Lane models. A base-model Galaxie was offered for 1963 only, badged as the Ford 300. The "Swing-away" steering wheel became optional.

Midway through the 1963 model year, Ford replaced the outdated 292 Y-Block v8 with the new small block 260 and 289 V8s that would later become the optional V8s in The Fairlane, Falcon Sprint, and Mustang. Ford continued to offer the FE series 352, and 3 versions of the 390 V8 (Regular, High performance, and Police). Five different transmissions were offered in 1963. A 3-speed manual column shift was standard on all models except the 406 V8, which required the heavier duty Borg-Warner 4-speed manual. A three speed manual with overdrive was optional, but rarely ordered. The two speed Ford-O-Matic was common with the 6 cylinder and small block V-8s, while the majority of big blocks (352 and 390) were ordered with the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. The availability of several different rear end ratios, along with 5 transmissions, and 8 different engines, led to a huge number of different driveline combinations for 1963. The most produced combination for the Galaxie and Galaxie 500 was the 352 V8, with Cruise-O-Matic, and the highway friendly 3.0 rear end ratio.

For the performance oriented things were a little different. Partway through this year and in limited quantities there became available Ford's new racing "secret weapon", the 427, replacing the 406. It was intended to meet NHRA and NASCAR 7-liter maximum engine size rules. This engine was rated at a conservative 425 hp (317 kW) with 2 x 4 barrel Holley carburetors and a solid lifter camshaft. Ford also made available aluminum cylinder heads as a dealer option. The 1963½ was still overweight, however. To be competitive in drag racing Ford produced 212 (around 170 from Ford Norfolk, about 20 from Ford Los Angeles) lightweight versions of the "R" code 427, in the Galaxie 500 Sport Special Tudor Fastback. Available only in Corinthian White with red vinyl interior, and with a list price of about US$4,200 (when a base Ford 300 went for US$2,324, and XL Fastback was US$3,268), these cars came stock with Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed, 4.11:1 rear axle, heavy-duty suspension and brakes, and were fitted with a fiberglass hood (a flat piece at first, late in '63 the popular blister hood also used on the Thunderbolt), trunk, front fenders, and fender aprons, as well as aluminum bumpers and mounting brackets, transmission cases, and bellhousing. Hood springs, heater, trunk lining and mat, spare wheel and tire (and mounting bracket), trunk lid torsion bar, jack, lug wrench, one horn (of the stock two), armrests, rear ashtrays, courtesy lights, and dome light were removed to reduce weight. The first 20 cars had functional fiberglass doors, which shaved 25 lb (11 kg); these were deleted because of Ford's concern for safety if used on the highway.[citation needed] The cars had all sound deadening removed, lightweight seats and floormats, and no options. Contrary to myth, they were not factory equipped with cold-air induction, as the Thunderbolt would be. In addition, they were built on the 45 lb (20 kg)-lighter Ford 300 chassis, originally intended for a smaller-displacement V8. In all, the 427s were 375 lb (170 kg) lighter than before (425 lb (193 kg) with the fiberglass doors).

The first two lightweight Galaxies, using 289 cu in (5 l) bodies, were assembled at Wayne, Michigan, late in January 1963, to be tested at the 1963 Winternats. They were delivered to Tasca Ford (East Providence, Rhode Island) and Bob Ford (Dearborn, Michigan). Bill Lawton's Tasca Galaxie turned the best performance, with a 12.50 pass at 116.60 mph (187.65 km/h). It was not enough against the 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z-11s in Limited Production/Stock, however. Three more were assembled from parts and tested at Ford's Experimental Car Garage in Dearborn. One of the next two, the last Winternationals test cars, was prepared by Bill Stroppe in Long Beach, California, for Les Ritchey; it was featured in the July 1963 issue of Hot Rod. For all their efforts, Ford discovered the Galaxies were still too heavy, and the project was abandoned. Some of these cars competed in England, Australia and South Africa after being modified by Holman and Moody who fitted them with disc brakes and other circuit racing components. Jack Sears won the British Touring Championship in 1963 and the racing Galaxies were also driven by Sir Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and other notable drivers of the period. The heavy Galaxies suffered from persistent brake failure that led to a number of crashes, and in late 1963 started using the 12-inch disc brakes from the Ford GT40 program. By this time the Lotus Cortinas were being developed and the big Galaxie became uncompetitive. Some of these race cars survive in England and in Australia where they compete in Historic Touring Car racing. A new 260 cu in (4.3 l) V8, derived from the 1962 Fairlane engine, replaced the Y-block 292 cu in (4.8 l) as the entry level V8. Later in the year, the 260 was replaced with an enlarged version displacing 289 cubic inches.

Source: Wikipedia, 2012

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