Jim Smart
September 1, 2002

I've known John Smith a long time. We met when I joined Mustang & Fords nearly 10 years ago. John promptly got me acquainted with '66-’67 7-Litre Galaxies. He gave me a renewed appreciation for these fullsize Fords, showing me the finer points and introducing me to a wealth of friends who share his passion. We've all been friends ever since. When John is flattering me, he affectionately calls me "Flangehead."

John fancies himself a "jerk of all trades" (your words, Johnny, not mine). But if you're fortunate enough to know John, you understand "jerk" is anything but true. John is an extraordinary person, and I'll tell you why. For one thing, he maintains a great sense of humor despite a lot of challenges that would have brought others to their knees. That's a lesson for most of us. For another, John has spent his lifetime genuinely serving others. Serving others just comes naturally for John.

A long time ago, John married his grade-school sweetheart, Sandy, who he's known since the fifth grade. They began their relationship as great pals, like Forrest and Jenny, never losing sight of the importance of their relationship. When they were old enough, they married and have been inseparable ever since. Many years ago, Sandy developed muscular dystrophy (MD). It has been a devastating illness for each of them. Through the years, he has remained at her side, offering her love and support, always putting her first. One time, John told me, "When I tied the knot, I didn't tie a slipknot…" I believe him.

Because John understands honor, duty, and commitment, you can imagine the attention he has given his greatest passion-cars. He's been into cars for the better part of a lifetime. Club affiliations include the Ford Galaxie Club of America and the Akron Chargers. With a heated passion for cars, you can well imagine the kind of 7-Litre Galaxie John would build. Fact is, he built this car in our magazine 10 years ago in a series called "The Seven-Litre Lectures." He showed us how it's done--and did it. Check it out.

John found this '66 7-Litre Galaxie in a field in Oklahoma back in 1985, and snapped it up for a cool $150. Call it grand larceny. This was a well-appointed Vintage Burgundy bruiser-cruiser hardtop with the original 428ci FE-series big-block, Top Loader four-speed, and all the trimmings. Everything was there. Upon getting the car home, John restored it to factory-original condition with the help of a lot of special friends: Dale Barnard, Dave Richards, Roger Dukeman, and Dino Mitchell, just to name a few.

The chassis was completely disassembled. Everything was media-blasted, primed and painted, with new bushings and hard parts. John upgraded the braking system with '79 T-bird single-piston front discs rebuilt by Genuine Classic Brakes. The Eastwood Company provided all of the correct chassis finishes.

1966 was the first year for the 428ci FE-series big-block. Ford achieved 428 ci with a 4.13-inch bore and a super-lengthy 3.98-inch stroke. It is stroke that gives the 428 mind-bending torque. The 428 was born of a need for low-end torque in a luxury-car engine. Ford's race-proven 427 didn't do that very well in a big Galaxie luxury car because it was a high-rpm engine. A smaller bore and a longer stroke did the trick for big Galaxies.

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John's 428 was rebuilt with a .030-inch overbore, TRW forged pistons, Clevite bearings, Fel-Pro gaskets, a Sig Erson hydraulic camshaft with Crane HD lifters, hardened exhaust valve seats, a three-angle valve job, a Melling high-volume oil pump, and a Ford Motorsport windage tray. John unearthed an FE tri-power setup, which gives the 428 a lot of power, but gives John a lot of grief when three Holley 350-cfm two-barrel carbs start leaking. Performance Distributors in Memphis provided the DUI distributor, which eliminates the external ignition coil and provides a hot spark.

Underneath, John opted for a 2¼-inch dual exhaust system installed by Cut-Rate Muffler. Because John's 428 makes boatloads of torque, he looked to Centerforce's dual-friction clutch to responsibly channel the twist to a big-shaft Top Loader and 3.50:1 Equa-Lok 9-inch gears and 31-spline axles.

That's Sapphire Blue BASF Diamont 88 basecoat/clearcoat professionally applied with the correct pinstriping by Denny Michael of DennyDidIt in Akron.

Max's Auto Trim and Upholstery installed the authentic black vinyl upholstery from Auto Krafters in Broadway, Virginia. Painless wiring replaces the original factory wiring harness. A 540-watt Pioneer sound system installed by Horizon Audio adds to the driving pleasure.

Each and every June, John, Sandy, and his buddies saddle up and head for Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the All-Ford Nationals. The rumbling group of 7-Litre Galaxies arrives with enough power to light a small city. But the light doesn't come from brute 7-Litre power. It comes from an extraordinary gentleman we'll always affectionately associate with the word flangehead.