1962-1964 Ford


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.

Ford Image Gallery

1962 Ford Victoria
The 1962 Ford Victoria and other models were known for big
engines. See more pictures of Fords.

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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1962 Ford Galaxie 500/XL

Ninteen sixty-two was the year of "The Lively Ones from Ford." Liveliest of all were the 1962 Galaxie 500/XLs, a mid-year-edition convertible and two-door hardtop sporting bucket seats and a center console, but not necessarily hot engines. (Standard motivation came from the 138-horsepower six.)

1962 Ford Galaxie 500/XL
Mylar trim accented the 1962 Ford Galaxie 500/XL.

For several years Ford had resisted putting buckets and a console in its top-line Galaxies, hoping to keep the Thunderbird distinctive. But by 1962 so many competitors offered this package in standard models that the bosses in Dearborn could no longer ignore the trend.

Standard 500/XL equipment included special wheel covers and exterior identification, chrome-trimmed console with fancy shifter, and deluxe front bucket and rear semi-bucket seats. Door and side trim panels were accented with chrome-like Mylar.

There were seven solid interior colors, and nearly all of Ford's exterior colors were eventally made available. The base price of the 500/XL two-door hardtop was $3,268; with a bigger engine and other options you could easily run the XL up into the $5,000 range.

Some new options for the 1962 Galaxies were two-speed electric windshield wipers, power windows with a safety lock, load-leveling shock absorbers, a remote-control trunk lid release, and seat belt anchors (though seat belts were still optional). Transistorized ignition was introduced in March.

Ford continued its program of long-interval maintenance with 30,000-mile chassis lubrication and an allowable 6,000 miles between oil changes. Radiator coolant was advertised as being good for two years. All single mufflers were fortified with aluminizing, and dual mufflers were fabricated from aluminized steel.

Special attention was given to body areas prone to rust. Nylon bushings were employed to reduce lubrication and wear, and many more parts were plated to stave off corrosion. The 12,000-mile or one-year warranty program entered its second year.

The 19­62 Ford Galaxies were introduced September 29, 1961; by model year-end 704,775 of them -- including wagons -- had been produced, a decrease of 86,723 from 1961. (However, total Ford production was up by more than 220,000 units.)

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1962 Ford Racing

By 1962 Ford's quality control program, begun in 1959 and helped by the 1962 Ford racing program, was showing results. Since 1946 Ford had its good and not so good years. Some years bodies were improved, some years engines were better, some years had better interiors, better chrome plating, or better paint.

1962 Ford
1962 Ford models continued the company's upward
climb in quality, thanks in part to its racing program.

But no Ford was as good in as many respects as the 1961. The 1962 models had even better overall quality control, and the 1963 and 1964 Fords were better still. During these years Ford was learning a lot from the missile industry to drive bugs out of its products and make its cars reliable in every aspect.

A second facet of Ford's quality control program was its racing research. Contrary to popular belief, Ford did not race in these years simply to sell cars. During the early Sixties, Ford was seriously committed to pushing its cars around the tracks until the wheels literally fell off. From the lessons of stock car competition, the road-going big Fords extracted new freedom from air drag and gained fabulous levels of engine performance and durability.

Ford and Pontiac slugged it out on the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) superspeedway circuit in 1962, with Ford gaining a slight edge in the eight major races at the Daytona, Darlington, Charlotte, and Atlanta speedways (four wins to three for Pontiac, and one for Chevrolet).

But that wasn't the whole picture. Pontiac dominated the NASCAR Grand National season with 22 victories; Ford took only six wins out of 52 races entered, its worst year in NASCAR since 1955. Ford's major problems were nonaerodynamic Galaxie roofline styling and cracks in early 406 blocks. (Redesigned blocks brought out later in the racing season proved much worthier.)

Certainly the drivers were not to blame. Ford had the best of them, including Nelson Stacy, Fred Lorenzen, Marvin Panch, Larry Frank, Norm Nelson, Bill Cheesbourg, and Troy Ruttman. The real bottom line was that the 1962 Ford Galaxie with the 406 was simply no match for the Pontiac 421. In an attempt to even the score a bit, Ford came up with a bolt-on "Starlift" fastback roof for convertibles that bore some resemblance to the slipperier Starliner hardtop roof of 1960-1961.

For reasons so complex it would take another article to explain them, NASCAR disallowed the Starlifts after they were used in one race. These roofs are now a rare item, and any 1962 convertible so equipped is a real find. (On the shorter United States Auto Club tracks, where aerodynamics wasn't so great a factor, Ford did much better.)

Similarly, in the drags, Pontiacs and Chevrolets cleaned Ford clocks. For Ford fans, 1962 was a racing season best forgotten. But help was on the way on all fronts.

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1963 Ford

The 1963 Fords arrived with the 406-cubic-inch engine still available at 385 or 405 horsepower. But after the first of the year, it was replaced by the new 427. It was not a completely new engine, but a 406 bored out by one-tenth of an inch. (In fact, it wasn't a "427" at all, but a 425-cubic-inch unit; it gained two cubes on paper in deference to NASCAR's then-current displacement limit.) But it did have cross-bolted main bearing caps, a new side gallery oiling system, a forged steel crank, wedge-shaped combustion chambers, big valves, and solid lifters. The compression ratio stood at 11.5:1.

1963 Ford Galaxie slantback
The "slantback" was a new body style
for the 1963 Ford Galaxie line.

This engine was rated at 410 horsepower with a four-barrel carburetor or 425 with two Holley four-barrels atop its aluminum manifold. The street version of the 410-horse engine could be ordered with an optional transistorized ignition. Like the 406 before it, the 427 was available only with a four-speed manual transmission.

The powerful and durable 427 hit the tracks in tandem with another new item -- a sloping "slantback" hardtop roof design that reduced the drag from the more formal Thunderbird-inspired style. It's long been contended that this semi-fastback design was created primarily for racing purposes. "Not so," says Joe Oros, who was Ford Division Chief Stylist during this period.

Regardless of the motivations behind its design and engineering efforts. Ford had its most illustrious NASCAR season to date in 1963. Dan Gurney won the inaugural event in January the Riverside 500. From there, Fords captured every race of 500 miles or more: the Daytona 500, with Tiny Lund at the wheel; the Atlanta 500 and the Charlotte World 600, with Fred Lorenzen aboard; and the Southern 500, with new Ford convert Fireball Roberts in the chair. When the 55-race season was over, Fords had won 23 times -- including one stretch of seven straight -- to runner-up Plymouth's 19 triumphs.

"Total Performance," Ford's advertising claim for 1963, was a bit harder to find at the nation's dragstrips. A special dual-quad 427 with a wilder cam and 12.0:1 compression ratio was hatched, as was a fleet of 50 lightweight Galaxie slantbacks pared down to 3,425 pounds.

Although capable of ETs in the low 12-second range, the Fords still were heavier and slower than their rivals, and were shut out of the National Hot Rod Association championship picture. Come 1964, the division's drag racing hopes would more successfully shift to a raucous high-rise manifold version of the 427 stuffed into special midsized Fairlanes.

Ford's more typical customers found plenty new in 1963, as well. Galaxie outer skins were thoroughly restyled with some side sculpturing, highlighted by a prominent car-length beltline crease, replacing the slab-sided look of 1962. A concave grille returned, but now it bore a floating Ford crest that doubled as the hood release latch.

The signature taillights moved up above the bumpers and lent their roundness to the top of the rear quarter panels. Galaxie 500s and XLs featured a bold bi-level side chrome treatment, seven hash marks on each rear fender, and a rear panel that reprised the front grille design. The instrument panel was completely redesigned for the first time since 1960.

1963 Ford Galaxie
Taillights were moved up above the bumpers
as part of styling tweaks for the 1963 Galaxie.

There was a big shakeup in the model lines. A new stripped-down 300 series added two- and four-door sedans for under $2,400. Meanwhile, the low-end Ranch Wagon disappeared. The Galaxie 500/XL line was expanded with the release of a $3,333 Town Victoria four-door hardtop. Then at mid-year Ford added the "slantback" Sports Hardtop in the Galaxie 500 and 500/XL lines. Despite its late arrival, 134,370 copies of the "1963 1/2 Sports Hardtop were produced (including 100,500 as Galaxie 500s) to 79,446 of the formal hardtops.

While the 223-cubic-inch six remained the standard engine for all but XLs, there were eleven V-8s offered, just not all at the same time. At the opposite end of the spectrum from the two 427s was a 260-cubic-inch replacement for the 292. In the spring a 289 supplanted the 260. These two were the standard XL engines. The 352 was still available, as was the 390, rated at 300 or 330 horsepower, each with a four-barrel carburetor.

Fordomatic was offered only with the six and small V-8s. The 352 and 390s could be had with Cruise-O-Matic, the four-speed Borg-Warner gearbox, or a new three-speed manual transmission with full synchronization that made low a performance gear.

New to the option list was the Swing-Away steering wheel. Major lubrication intervals were upped to 36,000 miles from 30,000 miles.

In the April 1963 issue of Motor Trend, Jim Wright clocked an XL convertible with a 300-horsepower 390 and Cruise-O-Matic at 9.8 seconds to 60 mph with a top speed of 107. He was especially impressed with Ford's improved, firmer suspension.

A rising tide of Ford sales shored up production of full-sized cars, of which 845,292 units were made, up 140,517 from 1962.

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1964 Ford

The 1964 Fords played to great critical and popular acclaim. The entire 1964 line was named Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" for "the concept of Total Performance based on high performance testing in open competition." The full-sized cars received another reskinning and enough refinements to make them arguably the finest Fords of the Sixties.

1964 Ford Galaxie
A more aerodynamic Ford Galaxie came
out of the model shuffle for 1964.

Exteriors were inspired by a number of aerodynamically styled show cars of the period, particularly the Torino, which became a model in its own right in 1968. Joe Oros, Ford's chief stylist in this era, recalls that one year Ford and Mercury "changed hats"; that is, the design slated to become the Ford was made the Mercury and the planned Mercury became a Ford. Oros is not certain of the year, but 1964 is the likeliest possibility.

Taillights remained round, but were sunk into a sharply edged rear cove. Oros and stylist John Foster have pointed out how difficult it was to retain the round taillights, yet make them look different every year. In 1965 Ford gave up, going to rectangular taillights for their full-sized cars (save for the low-priced Customs, which sported a round lens in a rectangular bezel). Thus a major Ford styling theme dating back to 1952 finally was retired.

The low-rent 300 of 1963 became the Custom series for 1964, with the base Galaxie of recent years rechristened the Custom 500. Galaxie 500 and XL notch-back two-door hardtops were stricken from the catalog, and four-door hardtops adopted the look of the successful Sports Hardtop roofline. Even the back windows on sedans -- such as the two-door Galaxie 500, which made its final appearance in the line -- took on a racier rake.

Engines remained unchanged except for the 352, which picked up a four-barrel carb and an additional 30 horsepower. Cruise-O-Matic was now the standard transmission on the XLs, and Fordomatic was no longer available on any full-sized Ford.

Motor Trend tested two models, a Galaxie 500/XL four-door hardtop with a 390, and a two-door hardtop with a 427. The four-door stormed over tight, twisting mountain roads at high speed, and never once did the four-barrel carburetor cough or flood, even during maximum-effort cornering.

Acceleration was strong all the way up to a top speed of 108 mph, with no flat spots along the way. The 0-60 time was a respectable 9.3 seconds. Economy was nothing to call your mother about, averaging 11.4 mpg on premium fuel over 1,500 miles of varied-condition driving. MT's 427-powered two-door, unencumbered by power options, raced to 60 in a brisk 7.4 seconds.

On the tracks, the year started out like 1963, with Gurney repeating as Riverside 500 champion and Fords placing second, third, and fifth. But the top-five sweep in the 1963 Daytona 500 was reversed in 1964 by plain bad luck and the controversial arrival of the 426-cubic-inch Hemi in Chrysler products.

Plymouths took the first three slots. Ford's racing honchos balked and asked to be allowed to run an experimental overhead-camshaft engine. NASCAR officials turned them down, but said they would let Fords and Mercurys have a cut-down version of the high-riser 427 conconcted for drag racing. (The intake manifold on that engine was so tall that lightweight Galaxies and Fairlane Thunderbolts for the strip required a teardrop-shaped hood bubble to clear the air cleaner.)

1964 Ford Galaxie
The 1964 Ford Galaxie would be the last of a breed.

Ford bounced back at the Atlanta 500, with Fred Lorenzen taking the checkered flag. He won the Rebel 300 at Darlington and a total of eight races that year, but not the World 600 at Charlotte, a scene of disaster for Ford.

Early in the race, Galaxie pilots Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett tangled and spun on the backstretch. Fireball Roberts lost control trying to avoid them, and struck the wall, his lavender No. 22 Ford flipping over in flames. Jarrett clambered from his own burning car and helped his rival struggle free of the inferno, but the critically burned Roberts -- one of NASCAR's greats -- died six weeks later.

Still, when the final count was in. Ford had won 30 Grand Nationals, more than twice as many as second place Dodge, and more than Ford had ever won before. Jarrett alone visited the winner's circle 15 times, mostly on short tracks.

Total Galaxie and Custom production for 1964 was 923,232, up sharply over 1963. The most popular Ford of any kind that year was the Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop, with 206,998 units produced.

It seemed Ford had saved the best for last in the generation of cars that debuted in 1960. The 1965-1966 Fords were faster cars on the tracks, but not better cars all around. Other than engines, 1965 Fords were about as much like the 1964 models as an Alfred Hitchcock thriller was like a James Bond fantasy. Times change, tastes change, and in the mid-Sixties, things were changing fast.

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1962-1964 Ford Models, Prices, Production

The full-sized 1962-1964 Ford models were overshadowed in their own time by the popular Mustang. In recent years, however, these "forgotten" Fords have become collectors' items. Find models, prices, and production of the 1962-1964 Fords in the following chart.

1962 Ford Models, Prices, and Production:

Galaxie 100
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,554
$2,453
54,930
4d sedan
3,636
2,507
115,594
Total Galaxie 100


170,524
Galaxie 500
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,568
2,613
27,824
4d sedan
3,650
2,667
174,195
Victoria hardtop coupe
3,568
2,674
87,562
Victoria hardtop sedan
3,640
2,739
30,778
Sunliner convertible coupe
3,730
2,924
42,646
XL Victoria hardtop coupe
3,672
3,268
28,412
XL Sunliner convertible coupe
3,831
3,518
13,183
Total Galaxie 500


404,600
Station Wagon
Weight
Price
Production
Ranch wagon 4d, 6P
3,968
2,733
33,674
Country Sedan 4d, 6P
3,992
2,829
47,635
Country Sedan 4d, 9P
4,010
2,933
16,562
Country Squire 4d, 6P
4,006
3,018
16,114
Country Squire 4d, 9P
4,022
3,088
15,666
Total Station Wagon


129,651
Total 1962 Ford


704,775

1963 Ford Models, Prices, and Production:

300
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,547
$2,324
26,010
4d sedan
3,627
2,378
44,142
Total 300


70,152
Galaxie
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,567
2,453
30,335
4d sedan
3,647
2,507
82,419
Total Galaxie


112,754
Galaxie 500
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,587
2,613
21,137
4d sedan
3,667
2,667
205,722
hardtop coupe
3,599
2,674
49,733
hardtop coupe, fastback
3,772
2,674
100,500
hardtop sedan
3,679
2,739
26,558
Sunliner convertible coupe
3,757
2,924
36,876
XL hardtop coupe
3,670
3,268
29,713
XL hardtop coupe, fastback
3,670
3,268
33,870
XL hardtop sedan
3,750
3,333
12,596
XL convertible coupe
3,820
3,518
18,551
Total Galaxie 500


535,256
Station Wagon
Weight
Price
Production
Country Sedan 4d, 6P
3,977
2,829
64,954
Country Sedan 4d, 9P
3,989
2,933
22,250
Country Squire 4d, 6P
3,991
3,018
20,359
Country Squire 4d, 9P
4,003
3,088
19,567
Total Station Wagon


127,130
Total 1963 Ford


845,292

1964 Ford Models, Prices, and Production:

Custom
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,529
$2,361
41,359
4d sedan
3,619
2,415
57,964
500 2d sedan
3,559
2,464
20,619
500 4d sedan
3,659
2,518
68,828
Total Custom


188,770
Galaxie 500
Weight
Price
Production
2d sedan
3,574
2,624
13,041
4d sedan
3,674
2,678
198,805
hardtop coupe
3,584
2,685
206,998
hardtop sedan
3,689
2,750
49,242
Sunliner convertible coupe
3,759
2,947
37,311
XL hardtop coupe
3,622
3,233
58,306
XL hardtop sedan
3,722
3,298
14,661
XL convertible coupe
3,687
3,495
15,169
Total Galaxie 500


593,533
Station Wagon
Weight
Price
Production
Country Sedan 4d, 6P
3,973
2,840
68,578
Country Sedan 4d, 9P
3,983
2,944
25,661
Country Squire 4d, 6P
3,988
3,029
23,570
Country Squire 4d, 9P
3,998
3,099
23,120
Total Station Wagon


140,929
Total 1964 Ford


923,232

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