In 1962, America was on the opening edge of what became the super car era. Chevrolet had its fine 409, Max Wedge Mopars were on street and 'strip venues, Pontiac's Super Duty program was growing, and Ford pushed its new tri-power 406-cubic-inch engine. The cars' styling would not evolve into the raw powerful lines until later in the decade, resulting in a unique blend of conservative styling cues and big displacements.
For Ford owners not opting for payments on the Thunderbird but wanting something bigger than the just-released unibody Fairlane, the George Walker--styled Galaxie 500 was a great choice as a highway driver. Indeed, Ford was promoting this body design on both circle tracks and dragstrips that year. Not as recognizable as the fastback designs that showed up in the middle of 1963, the 1962 version is a scarce model now, almost 50 years gone. Like most of its competitors, it was also a full-frame design with a fairly hefty curb weight.
This example was born the same year as its owners, Craig and Rachel Pool of Marion, Pennsylvania, and came from the originating dealer with the standard FE 352ci V-8 and automatic transmission. By the time the Pools decided it should come to their home, the shooting star was disassembled and in need of rebuilding; during the last three years, the transformation has been completed, with an emphasis on real-world driving and reliability. "I built it as a way to stay connected with my two sons, Josh and Levi," says Craig. He adds with a laugh, "I build furniture, kitchens, and perform other custom woodworking full time. This was done as a side project, working on nights and weekends to spend time with my sons and create lasting memories. I didn't have previous experience and had no idea what I was getting into."
The first part of the change was a more up-to-date engine and driveline combo. Craig selected a durable 460ci block as a starting point and turned it over to Phil Benedict of Quincy, Pennsylvania, who carefully built it up into a big-inch bruiser. A Scat stroker long-arm, ARP pins, and Eagle rods and pistons pushed engine displacement up to a healthy 521 inches. A main cap girdle and a custom 7-quart oil pan were added for increased insurance. The assembly was balanced, and a solid roller from Comp Cams with 1.73 ratio rockers made sure that big engine was really breathing, actuating valves in a set of Edelbrock Performer RPM heads. A Blue Thunder intake bridges that, with a Quick Fuel Technologies 950-cfm carb to fuel the iron lung. Taking a page from the old days, a custom airbox lets cold air come in from the behind the grille through twin pipes. MSD and Autolite spark it, with a set of hand-built headers pumping out the exhaust and a custom-built cooling system from Bill Kydd of Canadian Performance Warehouse. It was good for 530 ponies.
"I chose the 521 motor because I wanted as much horsepower that I could get with out losing driveability," says Craig. "I didn't want a race car; just a car that was equally at home taking my family on a drive or an occasional race." The original Cruise-O-Matic was chucked; in its place went a Keisler Engineering PerfectFit kit with a Tremec TKO-600 five speed. This upgrade allowed Craig to create a combination that can cruise at low rpm on the interstate thanks to a 0.64 overdrive; coupled with a 3.50 rear ring in the 9-inch housing out back, the final gear ratio is a gas station passing 2.89 and 1,800 rpm at 70 mph. Keisler also provided the peripherals and the shifter for this swap.
Cruising is more than power though, and just as much attention was paid to the suspension. Keith Long of Maugansville, Maryland, started out with components from Art Morrison, including independent front suspension and a triangulated four-bar design at the rear. Aldan adjustable coilover shocks are on all four corners, and stopping is aided by a quadrant of Wilwood disc brakes. In keeping with the modern theme, Craig chose modern wheels and tires as well; 17x9 with P245/45R17 and 18x10 with NT 555 P305/40R18 drag radials out back. Turning to the interior, the old seats were recovered with a tweed/vinyl combination created by Helman's Upholstery. The column shift, of course, disappeared behind a Grant wheel with the short-throw Keisler mechanism topped by a TKO handle and black ball. The final touch was Auto Meter gauges that were carefully worked into the OEM dash layout in a way that belies Craig's statement that he didn't know what he was doing.
Brightwork and trim were retrofitted as needed, and the crowning touch on the modern project was by Mike Kline, who applied a wonderful layer of chestnut and white Sikkens paint to complete it. The car turns heads wherever it goes; it was at Spring Carlisle on display on the Manufacturers Midway, with a never-ending stream of interested onlookers. "Thanks to advice and help from Booze Brothers Performance and my cousins, Jeff and Rodney Weller, I was able to complete this project," says Craig about the car. "I am pleased with the car's performance, driveability and handling, but perhaps what I enjoy the most is the interest it generates when I drive it." While many fans would like to have some high-profile collector type restoration, the Pool family's Galaxie is something you don't see everyday, yet gives everybody pause when it arrives.