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Jack Hazelgren's 1963 Galaxie Lightweight
Jack Hazelgren's '63 Galaxie Lightweight Offers Unexpected Pleasure
When we saw this Wimbledon White '63 Galaxie at a Utah car show four years ago, it got our attention. It was a striking, slippery, stylish fastback massaged to perfection in Ford's design studios five decades ago. The '631/2 Galaxie fastback symbolized a new mindset at Ford that spring. The Galaxie's fastback roofline was the brainchild of Ford Division General Manager Lee Iacocca, who wanted more sportiness in all Ford car lines. The Falcon also got a fastback roofline and a sporty name--Sprint}. Iacocca infused a totally new image into the Ford Division lineup called Total Performance. Showroom floors quaked; so did the racing world.
Closer inspection of this slippery Galaxie revealed the legendary crossed checkered flags and a portension of things to come--SOHC. This was a 427 Galaxie fastback born of Ford's new, aggressive attitude and the Total Performance era. When Jack hopped in the car and spun its FE big-block, it had a decidedly different sound beneath the teardrop hood. There was the whiz of timing chains and the chatter of 16 rocker arms. Jack goosed the throttle, and we felt a rush of adrenaline. We had discovered not only a lightweight Galaxie, but also one fitted with a N.O.S. 427 SOHC big-block screamer that had just roared up from the '60s.
Jack is passionate about old Ford factory drag racers, but that's getting ahead of ourselves. Jack's love of vintage Fords dates back to when these cars were new, and it has never faded. A friend of his purchased a '63 Galaxie XL convertible in 1986, and Jack fell in love with '63 Fords all over again. He just had to have one. Today, he has five of them--all in various forms with 390s and 427s. Jack found this '63 lightweight in Hemming's Motor News in August 1999. He traded a '97 Camaro SS LT4, plus some cash, to get his hands on this Galaxie lightweight. Jack's find wasn't your typical glass Galaxie. It was fitted with the rare 427 SOHC hemi-head big-block designed and built for NASCAR competition in the mid-'60s.
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When NASCAR told Ford it could not compete with an overhead cam engine, Ford wound up with dozens of 427-inch cammers on its hands. Many of them wound up in drag racers. Others were installed in boats. Still others were installed in street drivers. This is one of the crate engines that went undiscovered for many years. When it was discovered, it was knocked down and thoroughly inspected before assembly and fire-up. Jack tells us he removed the original sodium-filled valves and opted for Manley stopcocks instead. When he spun the cammer on the dyno, it made 675 hp at 7,500 rpm. It's a scream still heard high in the stratosphere over Utah.
You couldn't imagine anything less than an adequate drivetrain behind a 700-horse FE big-block. Ford's Top Loader four-speed channels the ponies into a "N" case 9-inch Detroit Locker, sporting 4.11:1 gears for good measure. Jack built his cammer glasser much as you might have expected in the '60s: factory drum brakes at all four corners, American Torq-Thrust D wheels, Mickey Thompson tires, N.O.S. factory Autolite shock absorbers, a 17-inch steering wheel, lightweight bucket seats, and only the necessary instrumentation. The sun tach takes us on a time trip back to the smell of burning rubber and Sunoco 260.