1963 Ford Galaxie 500 With The 406 Engine

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (4)

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (12)

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (8)

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.

Ford 1963 Square Top

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (7)

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (2)

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (1)

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


Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (9)

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.

Ford Galaxie 406 1963 (5)

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.

Ford Galaxie Racing In England

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.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, then leave a comment below or send me a private email at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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10 Responses to 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 With The 406 Engine

  1. fiascorally says:

    Steve, my dad had a 62 406/405hp with a 3 speed and overdrive…he’ll like seeing this 63.

  2. Greg g says:

    Single fellow down the street had one in black with red interior. He ran it regularly at the local drag strip. Ran A Stock if I remember correctly. Usually ran mid to high 14’s with speeds in the 99 to 103 range. I worked at the local Sunoco station and he would always come in Saturday morning and get a half tank of Blue Sunoco 260 so he could do his Sunday racing.

  3. brian stutz says:

    i just picked up a 64 galaxie with a 406 and 3×2,3 on column w/ overdrive obviosly non # matching but a clean fun car.

  4. Dominic says:

    Hello my name is Dominic I’m 30 years old my father is 72 and we have been looking for a 406 for his
    Gagalxie that has been sitting in the garage since before I was born it’s orginally a 406 it was his very first car please feel free to contact me if you happen to ever come across one it’s like a needle in hay stack at this point for me I would love to supersede him and get his car back to the glory days thank you it’s black with red inside 4speed

    • Hi Dominic,
      If you are looking for an new engine for the car then you have already made the decision that matching the original engine number is not important to you. I see that the 406 used the same engine block as the 390. The cylinder bore was increased to 4.13 inches. This is the same bore as used in the later 428 cubic inch engine which also shared the same engine block as the 390. I am not an engine builder, but perhaps an option for you is to get a 390 engine block, bore the block to a 4.13 cylinder diameter, and then use some 428 parts to make a 406 cubic inch engine. While it would be a bitsa 406, it could be easier (quicker) to obtain and by default, using this approach, it would have had a complete rebuild as compared to a 406 that you would purchase as a running engine in an unknown condition.
      Steve McKelvie

  5. Lars Bergström says:

    Were also Galaxie 1963 convertibles available with the 406 with 3×2 barrel carbs ?
    There is a black conv with black interior and stickshifter for sale with this Equipment not so far from where I live. How many conv. with this Equipment were produces?
    Thanks in advance
    Lars Bergström

  6. Rick ciotti says:

    I have an original 406 3×2 engine (complete) that I may consider selling, but it wouldn’t be cheap, so only really interested should reply. It’s 1963, and I can tell you this…IT IS NOT THE SAME BLOCK AS A 390!!!!!! Rick

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