Galactic Discovery – Drop-Top Fun in a 1965 Ford Galaxie
Owning a post-1940 classic Ford was never a plan for loyal Bow-tie fan Rod Pearce. Pearce’s first car when he was 16 was a ’57 Chevy hardtop and that love for Tri-fives has stuck with him some 50-plus years later with a ’55 and a trio of ’57s currently sitting in his garage and another ’57 on the way. But while window shopping a local consignment shop, Rod couldn’t help but pull the trigger on this made-for-California 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible.
As a classic car enthusiast who enjoys the drive, this Galaxie was right up Rod’s alley. The car was originally built by Mike Gray of Advanced Restorations for another Sacramento-area customer who spared no expense in his quest for a clean drop-top Blue-oval cruiser.
The plan from the beginning was a Ford in a Ford, so a 351 Windsor small block was bored .040-over and built by Motor Machine, where it was fitted with FAST Fuel Injection, Ford Racing aluminum cylinder heads, and MSD ignition. The package produces a cool cruising 425hp and is backed with a Ford AOD transmission for good freeway manners. A Tanks, Inc. fuel tank and pump delivers the fuel while a March Performance serpentine system keeps all the accessories working in unison.
The stock chassis was equipped with Hotchkis tubular A-arms and RideTech Shockwaves up front with a Unisteer power rack-and-pinion steering setup. Out back rides a Hotchkis four-bar suspension using a Ford 9-inch rearend which is stuffed with Strange axles and a 3.70:1-geared Strange third member. RideTech shocks and air bags were also used for the rear suspension. When the chassis fab work was finished it was stripped apart, smoothed out, and treated to a gray powder coat finish. American Racing Shelby 18-inch wheels are fitted on each corner with Wilwood disc brakes peeking through the spokes.
After sitting in a field for nearly 30 years, the Galaxie’s original sheet metal was in need of some serious work. Advanced Restorations did just what their name implies and went to work making new patch panels and fixing what could be saved. In doing so, they filled the gas door and shaved most exterior badging before the PPG Super Red paint was applied in-house by Mike Gray.
As a true one-stop-shop, Advanced Restorations also gets credit for the custom interior work. The stock dash was modified and fitted with gauges from Stewart Warner and an IDIDIT tilt steering column. A custom center console was also crafted and holds an Alpine touch screen audio system featuring Apple Car Play, Vintage Air A/C controls, power window controls, a Lokar shifter, and the air suspension controls, making everything conveniently within an arm’s reach. Tan naugahyde materials cover the dash, custom seats, center console, and side panels.
As a self-described “Chevy guy,” Rod thoroughly enjoys this 1965 Ford Galaxie and gets out and cruises it as often as he can, even if that does mean leaving one of his many Tri-Fives behind. That’s the appeal of buying a completed car from a consignment shop – you get all the cruising and show ’n shine fun and don’t have to deal with any of the headache or frustration of going through the build process. Here’s to many miles ahead of top-down fun in the California sun!
Photos by Steven Bunker