The full-size Fords mostly marked time for 1966, with a mild face-lift bringing some exterior tinware shuffling and a slightly concave rear window for hardtop coupes.
Cutting further into potential XL sales was a new bucket-seat convertible and hardtop coupe, the Galaxie 500 7-Litre, named for its standard 428-cid V-8. This new powerplant was basically a longer-stroke 427 (which didn't quite measure that) tuned more for low-rpm torque than high-end power. Even so, its rated 345 horsepower was more than ample.
The 1967 hardtop was now a semi-fastback.
Special badges, side striping, styled steel wheels, fake walnut steering wheel, front disc brakes, and Cruise-O-Matic were 7-Litre standards. The 427 and four-speed were optional.
The XL paled by comparison with its standard 200-horsepower 289 V-8, but it cost less because of its less luxurious equipment, and you could get it with any V-8 you wanted, including the two big-blocks.
But the real action was down in the intermediate ranks, where a handsome, all-new Fairlane offered enough underhood room for Ford's biggest engines, plus a bucket-seat 500XL hardtop and convertible, the latter body style new to the mid-size line.
Volume for the big XL sagged again, to 32,075 units for the model year. However, that was triple the 7-Litre's 11,073 units, which underscored the continued weakening in demand for big performance models.
Ford XL sales continued to slip for 1967 with only 23,335 being called for, a mere 2.7 percent of big-Ford shipments. Both would prove to be low-water marks for the series.
In retrospect, it should have done
better. A heavy outer sheetmetal graft for all big Fords brought
curvier contours of the sort GM had been popularizing. Unfortunately,
it also brought three needless inches in overall length, as Ford now
joined the trend to ever larger big cars.
Two-door hardtops wore a pronounced fastback roofline, with very wide C-pillars and correspondingly smaller rear side windows on the LTD version in keeping its more formal air. The 7-Litre was demoted to an option package for what was now simply called XL, newly divorced from the Galaxie 500 series.
Inside was a nicely restyled, trimmed-down console and flat, uninspired bucket seats. Power-teams returned as before except for the 352 V-8, which was honorably retired.
The XL and all big Fords picked up curvier, GM-like contours in a heavy outer skin redo for 1967.
Cruise-O-Matic, still standard, was updated with “SelectShift,” Ford lingo for a selector quadrant arranged to permit manual hold or selection of first and second gears for engine braking or zippier acceleration.
A number of changes were made to the XL in 1968. Learn how they helped increase interest in the car on the next page.
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