Tribute to ’60s Ford drag racers an instant hit
CELEBRATING its 60th anniversary in 1963, Ford was thoroughly entrenched in a “Total Performance” campaign to promote its products to become a dominant force in all forms of motorsports.
Whether it was chasing Ferrari at LeMans, roaring down the high-banked ovals of NASCAR, or competing at the many NHRA dragstripsacross North America, Ford was there.
While the 406 and 427-cubicinch V8s led the pack on performance, the 390 V8 was readily available as a capable performer that could also double as daily transportation. Ford had been filling the Galaxie engine compartment with the 300-horsepower Thunderbird Special 390 V8 since 1961, and it was the engine of choice for buyers wanting good performance without the constant tuning and thirst for fuel associated with the bigger engines.
Winnipeg’s Dave Denby’s hobby of collecting and rebuilding Fords from the ’50s and ’60s has been a lifelong endeavor. While he’s owned many over the years, it was a suggestion by friend Dennis Nuytten that stirred his interest in doing a 1963 Galaxie as a tribute to the early ’60s lightweight Ford drag racers.
“We call Dennis Mr. Galaxie because he’s built so many of them over the years, so I thought I’d look for one to build for myself,” says Denby.
A brief search led him to Nelson, B.C., where he found a very nice 1963 Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop. A rust-free original car with just over 60,000 miles on the odometer and equipped with the rebuilt 300-horsepower, 390-cubic-inch V8 and three-speed manual transmission, it was the perfect car for his project.
Back in Winnipeg, Denby stripped the body to get it ready for paint and then turned it over to Gerry Sawatsky at Snag’s Auto Body, who finished the Galaxie in Raven Black with a Cortez Silver roof. In keeping with the ’60s drag-racing theme, Denby added a period-correct full fiberglass hood with 4-inch teardrop bubble and reassembled the car.
For the interior, Mitch at A&M Glass stitched up matching black and silver vinyl interior upholstery. The Galaxie retains the factory bench seat Deluxe AM push-button radio and tinted windshield.
The 390 V8 engine got a full detailing, including chrome valve covers, fan shroud and air cleaner. The air cleaner draws fresh air from in front of the radiator through flexible tubes for a full ram-air effect. For more of a performance-car feel, the three-speed manual transmission was replaced with a rebuilt Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual with floor shift and backed by a 9-inch Ford rear axle fitted with a3.56:1 gear ratio. It all exhales through a set of custom dual exhausts with low-restriction mufflers.
Completing the look and tying the full-size Galaxie to the road are a set of 15-inch diameter Torque Thrust aluminum wheels from Vintage wheel wrapped with 225 X 75 blackwall radial tires.
The Galaxie was finished this spring and made its debut at last month’s Manitoba Street Rod Association’s Rondex Rodarama at the East End Arena, where it was an instant hit.
This Saturday it’s the 12th Annual Kildonan-East Collegiate Show and Shine being held at the 845 Concordia Ave. school. The entry fee is $10 per vehicle, and there’s even a free pancake breakfast for drivers of registered vehicles.
The show runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free admission for spectators, food and refreshments on site and several class awards for vehicles, including best student vehicle and the Grant Smart “Wild Thing” award for most outrageous vehicle at the show.
Come out and learn about programs that Kildonan-East Collegiate has to offer and support youth in the car hobby. For further information, check out the school’s website at www.kec.retsd. mb.ca.
Dave Denby’s hobby of collecting and rebuilding Fords from the ’50s and ’60s has
been a lifelong endeavor.
The Galaxie was finished this spring and made its debut at last month’s Manitoba Street Rod Association’s Rondex Rodarama at the East End Arena, where
it was an instant hit.