Jim Smart
February 7, 2006
Photos By: E. John Thawley, III

You've got to see and hear this '641/2 Galaxie 500 fastback firsthand to fully appreciate the effort that went into its current incarnation. Evan and Scott Campbell--father and son--own a towing business in the Phoenix, Arizona area. More than a decade ago, they were called to an apartment complex to haul off an old Galaxie that had been abandoned for quite some time. At first glance, it was just a dusty, old Ford that had seen better days. It was neglected but quite sound. They towed it to their yard in suburban Phoenix where it sat for months.

Eventually the Campbells began to wonder why they hadn't heard from the car's owner--who surfaced much later when the car was completed. With Arizona's motor vehicle laws on their side and more than an adequate amount of time, they applied for a lien title and took possession of the forgotten Galaxie hardtop. On first inspection of the warranty plate, they learned it was a 390 High-Performance Galaxie 500 fastback with a four-speed and a nine-inch: a perfect platform for the kind of supercar they envisioned.

Because Evan had a background and a passion for drag racing, they decided to build a retro street Super Stock drag racer using all the goodies he fondly remembered from the '60s. The car would be a smorgasbord of drag-race and circle-track parts that would make it a terrific cruiser as well as a Saturday night rocket ship.

The Campbells went for broke and began their Ford project in earnest with a complete restoration. They worked the body and painted the car '89 Nissan White, which is more a striking refrigerator white than Ford's brown-tone Wimbledon White. The Campbells saw abundant potential in their classic, freshly-painted, steel-body Ford. With its Crites Restoration Products fiberglass teardrop hood and white finish, it had "Ford lightweight Super Stocker" written all over it.

With that vision, Scott and Evan went to work planning and executing the rest of the project. They used rich black vinyl, brushed aluminum, and stainless inside, just like Ford did four decades ago. We like the massive center console Ford equipped these cars with in 1964. The finned die-cast resembles Cal-Custom accessories of the era. The Ford brake, clutch, and gas pedals became an oft-imitated aftermarket accessory many people installed in their hot rods.

In '63-'64, Ford graced the Galaxie's interior with a broad-sweeping persona that was inviting. The twin-pod instrumentation with a horizontal-sweep speedometer made the Galaxie's dashboard distinctive with dozens of square inches of brushed, stamped aluminum from door to door. Hop in and you'll notice roominess unseen in even the largest sport utilities and pickup trucks today. Detroit, eat your heart out.

Where this ride really shines isn't in its appearance or the rich, spacious, sporty interior. It's under the hood, where Ford's legendary performance image was born 40 years ago in places like Sebring and LeMans. At first glance, this might look like a 390, 406, or perhaps even a big-bore 427. But, if you had been around when Evan and Scott were building this engine, you would have seen a 1UA 3.98-inch stroke crankshaft laying on the workbench for the 427's 4.23-inch bores, bringing the displacement to a whopping 440 ci. What this means for the 427 block is heaping, helping handfuls of displacement made industrial strength with the stroke of a 428 Cobra Jet.

The Campbells hit pay dirt when looking for a 427 block. Most folks are fortunate if they find any kind of 427 block that can be machined and reused again. The Campbells found a Wood Brothers 427 from the golden age of NASCAR. It was machined to accept a needle-bearing camshaft, a power-wielding, friction-reducing idea that was tried long ago. This meant a lot of research and specialized machine work for the Campbells. They contacted Crower and were able to repair the needle-bearing, flat-tappet, mechanical camshaft. Their engine builder, Chris Buganski, dynamic-balanced the 1UA crank, LeMans rods, .030-inch oversized TRW-forged pistons, and Speed-Pro ductile iron rings. He worked the compression height and chamber sizing to achieve 11.0:1 compression. Call it a formula for FE perfection.

The aggressive mechanical camshaft was good for .525-inch lift and 290 degrees of duration via the old-fashioned method of mechanical flat tappets and adjustable roller rocker arms. Chris ported the 406 heads and fitted them with 2.100-inch intake and 1.800-inch exhaust valves for exceptional flow. The raw combination of hotter vintage camming and liberal cylinder-head logic not only makes power, it produces an adrenaline-inducing sound.