Monday, February 29, 2016

Looking Back - '64 Galaxie

Cars are cool.  I think we can all agree on that, but the fun thing about cars and car culture is that there are so many different ways cars can be cool.  There's a lot of different schools of thought on cool cars and cool builds.  From import tuners to American muscle, road racing to drag racing, and concourse restorations to rat rods, everybody has their tastes, preferences, and ideas on what to build and how to build it.  No two builders have exactly the same style, and likewise, every car has a little different flavor because of it.

Different Car Cultures - Love them all
I trace my automotive roots squarely back to my ride to preschool.  My mom may have dropped me off in her '87 Taurus wagon, but dad would pick me up in his '64 Galaxie 500 sedan.  This thing was by all means a Charlie Car.  It was handed down by a great uncle or something like that to my dad, and I bet he paid next to nothing for it.  It was a beautiful two-tone of rust and metallic brown.  The exhaust must've been an option back then because there wasn't hardly even traces that it had been there.  From the stories I heard, I think it had the 2-speed Ford-O-Matic trans, so it was likely temperamental and got horrible mileage.  But in my 4-year old mind, this old family sedan was the coolest thing I'd ever seen...  I suppose it probably was at that point!  It was huge and awesome, and it looked cool, and it was fun to ride in, and it had "power," and the 289 sounded awesome, and... I think you get the idea.  Preschool me was all about that Galaxie.  I absolutely loved going out to meet my dad and his awesome ride after school each day!  I even remember when he replaced the rear leaves with some custom ones that he asked for a little extra arch to jack up the back.  After a few years he got a deal on a '67, and it took me a solid decade plus to appreciate the look of that one.  I blame that Galaxie for a few things, but most notably, my obsession with full-size Fords.  (The wagons got tacked on somewhere else in history.)  I liked that car so much, I was mad at my dad for years when he junked it when we moved out of state.  I also bought my '64 Fairlane wagon mostly because it reminded me of that car.

If you can picture this without the flames, the spot light, the spare tire, the vinyl roof, the lake pipes, the rims, and the fender skirts, that's what my dad's looked like.  Just a plain old '64 sedan in metallic brown with body matched steel wheels, rust quarters, and no exhaust.  Perfection.
 On a similar note, I really enjoy looking old pictures of '60s and '70s drag racing.  It really makes me wonder what it must've been like back in the day.  Those old gassers and funny cars and pro-stock dragsters just look so cool and muscular.  I'd love to have a car built to be a replica and do nostalgia drag racing.  Who am I kidding?  I just want to go watch nostalgia drag racing!  One of these summers, I'm going to find a race to go watch; just you wait.

These Duster's are always cool.
It's really neat to learn from the past when you are growing up and trying to move yourself toward the future.  I've adopted a motto to help remind myself of that; "as long as I learned something, it wasn't a waste."  Whether it's photography, working on cars, or even relationships, as long as you take something away that sticks with you and makes you better, stronger, or more ready to adapt to the next challenges, it isn't the worst thing you could've done.  Granted, it would've been better to not need the lesson, and it would be even better to not repeat the same lesson fifteen times, but we all start somewhere.  Learning from the past and our predecessors is the smartest way - to learn from other people's experience.  But sometimes we want to have that firsthand experience too.

Can you smell the rubber in the air?
Putting that all together (and you thought I was just rambling this whole time!  See?  I do have a plan hidden in here!), I would love to someday own the experience of old school hot rodding by rebuilding a '63-'66 Galaxie 2-door hardtop.  I would even build it to be old school.  Stock suspension, as stock of brakes as deemed reasonable and prudent, top-loader 4-speed, and a stock rebuilt 390 V8 with a 4 barrel carb.  I'd love to have dual quads, a high-rise intake, a lumpy cam, or to magically find a 427, but I think a rebuilt, stock 390 would be the most accurate portrayal of the big, full-bodied beasts roaming the streets back in the '60s and also a cooler, hotter version of my dad's car from back in the early '90s.  All I really want to do is bang through the gears, smoke the tires, and glide down the highway thinking about what it must've been like driving one of those everyday... and how much my dad would also have loved to have a 2-door with a big block!  I hope, when I die, I get to pull my supercharged, 6-speed Crown Vic into the the parking lot of the pearly gates next to him and his Galaxie.  Long live the the full-size!

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