Few things in life do it for the spirit like a Rangoon Red '63 1/2 Galaxie fastback. We'll admit that we watch old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show just to get a look at one of these puppies in black and white. And we'll darned near wreck our own Ford just to get a closer look at one of them in traffic on a busy freeway.
That's just the charisma and draw of an early '60s Galaxie fastback. We like the NASCAR-inspired roofline, actually inspired by Ford Division Manager Lee Iacocca's raw determination to sell cars and climb the corporate ladder at Ford Motor Company via the express elevator. He did it with the Total Performance campaign that made Ford a household name in homes all across the land.
So what is it that makes us want to be closer to a sleek and slippery full-sized Ford fastback? Much of it is that age-old passion for good-looking automobiles. Forty years later, nothing has changed. We're still passionate for exciting, hot-looking rides from Detroit.
But the '63 1/2 Galaxie fastback is more than just good looks. It's the sound of a dated Autolite starter, a throaty roar, and the soft clatter of mechanical lifters from the 427ci FE big-block underhood. Raise the hood and it's certainly a 427-and more. On top is a dual-quad induction system sporting a pair of Holley atomizers. Immediately in front of the Holleys is an Autolite dual-point ignition system. Flanking the cast-iron heads are two wads of bananas that look like iron and perform like headers. Behind the 427 is a T10 cast-iron four-speed splined into a 9-inch chunk with 3.50:1 gears.
Atlanta's Keith Mills wasn't even born when this Galaxie fastback rolled off Ford's Wayne, Michigan, assembly line. Yet, at age 36, he clearly understands winning style and performance in a full-sized Ford ride. It's easy to believe Keith found this car in a barn, buried in dust and rust, then restored it to factory original condition. But nothing could be further from the truth. This isn't a restoration at all. It's a 10,766-original-mile Galaxie fastback with a deep, rich enamel finish applied 40 years ago.
Because time and limited operation take their toll, Keith had to freshen up the 427, which suffered with bad valve seals. He knocked it down and brought it back up with new rings, bearings, and seals. It was both a labor of love and familiar territory as he has owned many vintage Fords since the age of 13. Most of them have been Mustangs, including a '73 T5 convertible, a couple Cobra Jet Mach 1s, and a '70 Boss 302. Keith is an enthusiast who knows and lives Fords.
When we asked about his life with a big Rangoon Red Galaxie fastback, Keith said he virtually never trailers the car. He drives it. OK, to help keep the mileage conservative, he rarely drives it. His treks are designed to keep the engine in good health and he enjoys the car for what it has always been-an exciting ride ordered and built for racing, but lost in a time warp that began some four decades ago.
Keith keeps the Galaxie in his five-car basement garage. When it's time for service, he has a three-bay garage with a lift, just for kicks. When we asked Keith if he'd ever be interested in selling the Galaxie, he said, "I get really attached to (my cars)-but I guess everything has a price tag." Now if only we could remember where we left the checkbook.