Each American automaker has a proud history. Chevrolet blazed a trail with its hot 409 Impalas. Chrysler's 413s and 426s brought home the bacon in NASCAR and NHRA competition. Even American Motors' 390s and 401s established a reputation as tough competitors. But none of these engines ever won Le Mans.
Ford's slogan from the '80s-"Have You Driven a Ford Lately?"-could have easily been applied to the early '60s when it came out of nowhere with a lineup of powerful V-8 engines. Ford is the only U.S. automaker ever to have an overall win at Le Mans-and it happened three times. What's more, Ford did it not with some exotic double overhead cam Indy-style screamer, but with the 427 FE.
The 427 just makes us want to be near it with those pent-roof valve covers, banana-style cast-iron headers, 16 shaft-mounted rocker arms, and that seven-grand scream that gets us going. The 427 served many roles in its day at Ford. It roared around those superspeedways of NASCAR four decades ago. Ford and Dearborn Steel Tubing stuffed it into Thunderbolt Fairlanes in 1964, which turned these modified 289 high-performance sedans into rabid dogs in NHRA competition. And yes, Ford fitted this legendary engine to the GT40 chassis and roared its way to the world's winner's circle at Le Mans three times, spanking Ferrari in the process.
Pete Lawrence and Mike Ezzi had the 427's eight-barrel legacy squarely in mind when they discovered this tired, old '64 Galaxie in a classified ad at the Carlisle All-Ford Nationals back in the '90s. It took a while before they could do it, but eventually, Mike and Pete went to check out this car to see if it was worth a roll of the dice. A fact-checking mission revealed this was indeed a real R-code Galaxie hardtop, something to be treasured, restored, and enjoyed. They purchased the car as a partnership between trusted friends.
You don't just slap a coat of paint on a car like this. You do a body-off restoration and knock everything down to the bone. "You don't see many 427 R-code fastbacks out there, do you?" Pete asked us. "If you're going to restore a car, you might as well restore a fast one." Pete says the car turns heads wherever it goes, especially among the Ford faithful. It took a long time to restore the Galaxie, especially working on it one night a week in Mike's garage. It made its debut in 2005, just in time for the Hot Rod Power Tour to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and on to Englishtown Raceway Park in New Jersey.
Building a car like this involves a lot of talent. Pete and Mike did most of it, but as they worked on the body, others, including Simonek Automotive, tore down the 427 and did a ground-up engine blueprint to enable this Galaxie to perform as well as it looked. There's nothing bipolar about this engine. It has a radical idle, accelerating smartly to six grand with an attitude. At high rpm, you wonder how the Comp Cams/Manley valvetrain keeps up-but it does.
Aside from the BFGoodrich radial tires and a dual braking system with front discs for safety, Mike and Pete did their best to keep this Galaxie as factory as possible, though they wrapped the cast-iron headers to keep down the underhood heat. Inside, the duo added a period Sun Super Tach and Stewart-Warner instruments to keep them advised on engine vitals. Otherwise, Pete and Mike remained true and faithful to Ford's mid-'60s demeanor.
Mustang & Fords photographer Bill Erdman went after this car for its size, beauty, sound, and attitude. For one thing, no one builds automobiles this large and stylish anymore-not even in America. The world recognizes the United States for its uniquely American attitude, which is why we export restored cars by the dozens every year-people love American cars of the '60s for their size, beauty, sound, and attitude. Ford's striking '63-'64 Galaxies are known for a magic that hasn't been duplicated since. That slippery NASCAR-inspired fastback roofline was a midyear twist of imagination in 1963, carried over to 1964 with a more sculptured look and a wider stance. This makes the '63-'64 Galaxies extraordinary Ford rides you can't help but admire-and want badly.
'64 Ford Galaxie Two-Door Hardtop
Owners: Pete Lawrence and Mike Ezzi, Boonton, NJ
427ci FE Series big-block V-8
Built by Simonek Automotive, Paterson, New Jersey
C4AE forged-steel crankshaft
C3AE 6.488-inch connecting rods
JE forged flat-top pistons
Dynamic balanced for smoothness
C4AE Low Riser head castings
Larger 2.19-inch/1.73-inch Manley stainless valves
Bronze guides and Toke seals
Comp Cams mechanical flat-tappet camshaft, 0.570/0.570 lift, 236 degrees duration1.76:1 Ford rocker arms
Holley 9510 BJ and BK 652-cfm carburetors
Autolite Dual-Point with transistorized ignition
Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed
Equa-Lok differential 28-spline axles
Cast-iron manifolds 2 1/2-inch dual pipes
Front: Stock coil spring
Rear: Stock leaf spring
Front: Aftermarket disc
Rear: Stock drum
Dual braking system for safety
Front: Painted 15x5 1/2-inch steel wheels, Ford corporate dog-dish caps
Rear: Painted 15x5 1/2-inch steel wheels, Ford corporate dog-dish caps
Front: BFGoodrich Lifesaver A/W radials, P225/70R15
Rear: BFGoodrich Lifesaver A/W radials, P225/70R15
Factory interior restored by Chet's Auto Top of Montville, New Jersey; Sun Super Tach; Stewart Warner gauges; Hurst shifter
Raven Black DuPont basecoat/clearcoat by Pete Lawrence