The Ford Galaxie was one of the flagship Ford models, manufactured between 1959 and 1974 and designed to give the hugely popular Chevrolet Impala a run for its money in the United States. It was produced in Australia between 1965 and 1969, assembled at Ford’s Homebush plant in New South Wales. Around 5000 models were produced in Australia during the Galaxie’s prime, but there are many original US and Canadian imports also available on the used car market.
Most imports date from between 1969, when Australian production ceased, and 1973, before the locally developed Ford LTD officially replaced the Galaxie brand. Full left-to-right-hand conversion was undertaken by Ford in Victoria. There are still some imports left on the market that date from before Australian production, when small numbers of imports were sourced by a few specialist dealers.
The Galaxie lent its name to the later Ford Galaxy car/minivan, which was available to the European market, but the two vehicles could not be more different from each other. Interestingly the Galaxie competes with these and 4x4s on size, its huge dimensions masked by the comparatively low roof height.
The Australian Galaxie was available as a four-door sedan with a choice of 4.7-litre or 6.4-litre V8 engine. The original 1965 Australian-built model was known as the Galaxie GE, although the GE designation was dropped for later models, which were known simply as the Galaxie. To find out whether a model was imported or assembled here on the ground, check the VIN for the “K” designation, which was carried by all original Australian models.
The Galaxie is a good, solid period car that feels as good behind the wheel as it does to appreciate its aesthetic good looks and charm. It handles the road well at any speed, riding smoothly over bumps and uneven surfaces and cornering better than a car of this size and age has any right to, although this quality isn’t quite matched by the performance of the brakes.
The Galaxie marked the heyday of Ford’s large car construction. It was a vehicle that was built to last, as indeed many have. That said, until they rose again in popularity, many Galaxies were left neglected and succumbed to bodywork corrosion. This is nothing that a little TLC cannot overcome, but if you are looking to purchase a Galaxie that has already been worked on, do check for the quality of bodywork repairs as well as under the bonnet.
Unsurprisingly given its age and power, the Galaxie is thirsty when it comes to fuel.
Early imports came in a variety of models, including RHD wagons, convertibles and fastbacks, two-door and four-door hardtops, XLs, and LTDs featuring a range of interior styling. The Galaxies are characterised by their smart dashboards and instruments, with several different options available on the import models, including the Edsel Corsair-based dash and the Edsel Ranger option. Most Australian models feature the RHD based on the Lincoln Continental or the Torino cluster.
The Australian-produced models dating between 1965 and 1968 to 1969 carried a number of features and accessories as standard, such as power steering, power brakes, radio with 390 engine, automatic gearbox, single-speed intermittent wipers (1965 to 1967) or two-speed intermittent wipers (1967 onwards), and three-speed heater and defroster.
Some of the higher spec Galaxies include the 1967 7-litre model, which was essentially a US-manufactured XL with luxury trim to the horn ring and alternative dash styling plus some modifications outside such as a curve to the centre of the grille to reduce its squared-off look.
Other 1967 enhancements to all Galaxie models included a padded hub to the centre of the steering wheel, padded interior surfaces, redesigned instrument panel with recessed controls, and front seatbelt shoulder anchors. The year 1968 saw more developments still, with the arrival of courtesy lights, a cigarette lighter, suspended accelerator pedal, and padded backs to the front seats. These models also have greater safety features – a real consideration for buyers who will be doing more than the occasional trip in their prized Galaxie.
The Galaxie’s original raison d’être was to go up against the Chevrolet Impala in the US and the two remain major competitors amongst classic used cars. Other popular models from the same era include the Chevrolet Camaro, the Pontiac Firebird, and the Buick Riviera coupe.