Once again I attended the Holliston Massachusetts Historical Society’s annual car show. This car show is easy to attend because it is close to me, starts on a Sunday morning at 8:30 and ends at 10:30AM. It is always filled to capacity with interesting cars. One of the cars that caught my attention this year was a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 Fastback Hardtop with the optional 406 cubic inch V8 engine. This car is shown below.
1963 Ford Galaxie 500 With The 406 V8 Engine
The 406 cubic inch V8 engine is not commonly seen in these cars, as most people who were looking for more performance over the base 352 cubic inch V8 chose the powerful 390 cubic inch engine. Far fewer buyers optioned up further to the 406 cubic inch engine. Also an automatic transmission was not available with the 406 V8, therefore if you wanted an automatic transmission with a big V8 engine, then you selected the 390 V8.
This Car Stood Out With Its Robin’s Egg Blue Color
Full size cars like this Ford Galaxie 500 with big engines were in the vanguard of the “muscle car” era. At this time, the North American manufacturers were just beginning to stuff big V8 engines into smaller cars. This Galaxie 500 with the 406 engine would have been among the fastest North American cars in 1963.
The Fastback Hardtop Was Designed With NASCAR Racing in Mind
The full size Ford line up started the 1963 model year with only a square-shaped hardtop. The Fastback hardtop shown in this post is sometimes referred to as a 1963 1/2 model as it was introduced mid-way through the 1963 model year. Besides having a different shaped roof line, the Fastback hardtop sat 1- 1/2 inches lower than the more formal square top. This lower profile and smoother shape helped Ford cars win 23 NASCAR races in 1963, including every 500 mile race on the big tracks.
1963 Ford Square Top
The Fastback hardtop shape was much more popular than the square top shape. Ford sold about 29,700 of the formal square shape hardtops, but about 134,800 of the Fastback hardtops.
The Rear “Grille” Is Similar To The Front Grille
In 1962, Ford introduced its 406-cubic-inch V-8 as a racing homologation special. The 406 cubic inch V8 engine was a 390 cubic inch motor bored out by 0.08 inches, but used the same piston stroke. Two versions of the 406 V8 were available – the four-barrel version offering 385 horsepower, and the three-two-barrel carburetor version that was rated at 405 horsepower. Both versions of the 406 featured 11.4:1 compression, cast headers, and a low-restriction dual exhaust.
This Is The Three Two-Barrel Version Of The 406 Cubic Inch Engine
Mid-way through 1963 Ford introduced the 427 V8 engine to replace the 406 cubic inch engine. The 427 engine was a further boring out of the 390 big block to 4.23 inches, while the stroke remained at 3.78 inches. Just for a little trivia, if you do the math with the 427 bore and stroke, then you get an actual engine capacity of 425 cubic inches. Few people other than me would actually do the math to calculate the engine size, so I guess that Ford simply called the engine a “427” so that numerically they would not be behind the Chrysler 426 hemi or the Chevrolet 427 V8 engine. The 406 cubic inch engine, as installed in this car, was dropped by Ford during the 1963 model year as the 427 became available.
The Front Side “406” Emblem Tells The Story
In 1963 Ford had a large variety of high performance V8 engines. Most of these engines were available in the full size Galaxie range. A listing of these Ford V8 engines is shown below.
1963 Ford High Performance Engines
|Cubic Inches||Horsepower||Fuel System||Availability|
|260||260||1 x 4 barrel||Cobra|
|289||271||1 x 4 barrel||Full Size, Cobra|
|390||330||1 x 4 barrel||Full size|
|390||340||3 x 2 barrel||Full Size|
|406||385||1 x 4 barrel||Full Size|
|406||405||3 x 2 barrel||Full Size|
|427||425||2 x 4 barrel||Full Size|
This Car Had The Floor Shift Four-Speed Manual Tranmission
Any 406-powered Galaxie required a Borg-Warner T10 four-speed transmission, 15-inch wheels, heavy-duty suspension, four-wheel drum brakes, and a high-capacity radiator. A 406 with the three two-barrel option would power the Ford Galaxie to 60 MPH in 7.1 seconds with quarter-mile times in the mid-to-low 15 second range.
The Galaxie 500 Models Came With Bench Seats
A 1963 Ford Galaxie helped Jack Sears win the 1963 British Saloon Car Championship. Other Ford Galaxie drivers who raced in a British Saloon Car Chamopionship event that year included Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, and Graham Hill.
In 1963 A Ford Galaxie 500 Won the British Touring Car Championship
These big powerful cars are often overlooked these days, as the emphasis is on the muscle cars or the pony cars of the era, but these were and are impressive cars.
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