Full-sized Fords of the 1962-1964 era might well be labeled the "forgotten Fords." The Ford from this period that the public remembers is the Mustang. Even the designers of the early Sixties Fords have forgotten a lot of the details, although the 1962-1964 Ford engines were powerful for their time. Only very recently have these cars emerged as collectibles, especially the Galaxie 500/XL models.
The 1962 Ford Victoria and other models were known for big
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Fords of the period had their origins in the 118-inch-wheelbase 1957 Fairlane. While body styling changed dramatically from year to year, inner body panels and floor pans changed very little. The wheelbase was increased a mere inch in 1960, and remained at 119 inches through 1968. However, 1965 and later models have a dramatically different "perimeter" frame.
The key to the era's big Fords was engines. The mighty 390 Thunderbird Special was introduced in 1961 and remained the basis of all big-block Ford performance engines for years to come. Essentially, Ford engineers bored and stroked the 352. While horsepower remained at 300, as on 1960's top street engine, the 390's torque was increased to 427 pound-feet at the same 2,800 rpm. For law-enforcement agencies and enthusiasts, Ford offered a 330-horsepower mill that reached its peak at 5,000 rpm. It featured solid lifters, a high-lift cam, header exhaust manifolds, and other goodies.
Next up was a 375-horsepower (at 6,000 rpm) variant. Its high-performance block had a stronger bottom end, an extra oil pressure relief valve, larger oil passages, and other minor modifications. Heads were the same as on the standard version. Available in all models except wagons, it was strictly a racing engine. Later in the year this engine became available in triple two-barrel carb form, generating 401 horsepower.
Ford raced into 1962 with essentially the 1961 lineup of engines: A 223-cubic-inch six, 292 V-8, 352 V-8, 300- and 330-horsepower 390s, and, at the beginning of the year, beefed-up 390s producing 375 or 401 horses. The 352 and 390s (save for the 401-horsepower plant) utilized single four-barrel carburetors.
Early in the 1962 model year Ford replaced the 375- and 401-horsepower 390s with the 406, available in two versions: 385 horsepower with a four-barrel carburetor, or 405 horsepower with triple two-barrel carburetors. Both peaked at 5,800 rpm. This engine was brought out to compete with Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Dodge engines that now were all over 400 cubic inches. The 406 enjoyed a thicker-walled block than the heavy-duty 390, the compression ratio was up to 11.4:1, pistons and rods were tougher, and exhaust valves were bigger.
Transmission options were as varied as The Music Man's wardrobe. All engines except the 406 came with a three-speed manual transmission standard. Overdrive was optional. The six, the 292 V-8, and the 352 V-8 offered an optional Fordomatic two-speed that had been around with some improvements since 1951. Three-speed Cruise-O-Matic was available with the 292, 352, and 390. Late in the 1961 model year a Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission was added for the 352 and 390; this was the only transmission available for the high-performance 406s.
The 1962 was among the last Fords styled under the direction of George Walker. At the end of 1961 he had a falling out with Henry Ford II because he recommended his "favorite son," Elwood Engel, for the position of chief stylist at Chrysler. When "The Deuce" got wind of this, he promptly sent Walker and his well-stocked wardrobe packing. Walker retired to become the mayor of Delray Beach, Florida. But before he did, he approved the styling of the 1962 and possibly the 1963 models.
Bodies for 1962 were very similar to those of 1961, with enough trim and body panel changes to make buyers think otherwise. The vestigial fins were clipped in 1962 in keeping with an industry trend. In an effort to make the round tail-lights look new, they were dropped down into a sculpted rear bumper. While retaining the overall dimensions from 1961, there was a new roof panel and roof rails, new upper back panel, rear quarter panels, deck lid, lower back panel, rear floor area, and rear crossmember. A flatter grille replaced the concave style of 1961.
There also was some model reshuffling. With the Fairlane and Fairlane 500 names consigned to the new-for-1962 intermediate line, full-sized Fords resided in the Galaxie 100 and Galaxie 500 series. The Galaxie 100 was available only as two- and four-door sedans. The Galaxie 500 came in these body styles plus two-and four-door Victoria hardtops, and a Sunliner convertible. The station wagon line consisted of a six-passenger Ranch Wagon, six- and nine-passenger Country Sedans, and six- and nine-passenger Country Squires. All wagons were four-doors. Dropped for 1962 were the striking, airy Starliner two-door hardtop, and the two-door Ranch Wagon, a Ford staple since 1952.
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