Friendship lives in spirit: Ford Galaxie 500

Farm Forum

Back in 1968 Don Stanton, general manager of Orange Motors in Albany, N.Y., took as a trade-in a clean 1963.5 Ford Galaxie 500 XL that had been driven only 12,000 miles. He quickly snatched up the low-mileage Ford for himself and gave it to his 16-year-old daughter. She expressed her gratitude by saying, “I really wanted a Mustang.”

The daughter got her Mustang and the 1963.5 Galaxie 500 XL slantback was sold to a good friend of Stanton. The two began talking about an adventure of driving the Ford cross country to California.

“We packed a two-man pup tent, two coolers, two suitcases and a Coleman stove in the big trunk and headed west out on N.Y. Route 20 in early August, 1969,” Stanton recalls.

The 17-foot, 6-inch-long Ford, riding on an 119-inch wheelbase, provided a comfortable ride, though not an economical one. The 289-cubic-inch V-8 drank from the 20-gallon gasoline tank at the rate of 12 miles per gallon.

The “slant back” roofline was introduced mid-year to help Ford win on the NASCAR racetracks. This particular Ford, however, had beneath the engine hood a modest 260-cubic-inch V-8 that delivered only 164 horsepower.

The handsome Galaxie 500 is equipped with power steering and power brakes, along with a floor mounted Cruise-O-Matic transmission. From the front to the rear the gears on the console between the front bucket seats are: Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive 2, Drive 1, Low.

With the exception of the white headliner, the interior is all-black. Relatively new from Ford in 1963 were the red and white lights in the lower parts of both doors to alert oncoming traffic, as well as illuminate where the passenger was about to step.

Seated behind the three-spoke deep dish steering wheel-adorned with a chrome horn ring covering about two-thirds of the steering wheel-the speedometer registering speeds of up to 120 mph is clearly visible.

When new the 1963.5 slantback Ford had a base price of $2,674 and weighed 3,772 pounds. The car was popular with 134,370 customers.

The aforementioned two young men successfully completed the round trip across the U.S. continent. After returning home the owner babied the Galaxie and kept it under cover. In 1994, a restoration effort was started but sadly the owner died in 1995. That’s when his brother took control and had the Ford totally restored in his brother’s memory in 2006.

In the summer of 2011, Stanton happened to drive by and saw the old Galaxie 500 and learned it was about to be sold. That is when Stanton became the new owner. After all, it was loaded with precious memories from the last half century that can never be duplicated.

“There’s a spirit in this car,” Stanton says. “I’m keeping the spirit of this car alive in honor of my friend.”

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