OUT OF THE PAST 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 once more running strong
In 1969 Ford was building very large, very powerful cars. Fastback styling was becoming quite popular and, as a consequence, 63,921 Galaxie 500 Sport Roof Coupes found buyers.
One of those Fords, a jade-green model, left the factory equipped with a 429-cubic-inch ‘Thunder Jet’ V-8 engine pumping out 360 horsepower under the hood. When new, the muscular Ford had a base price of $2,930. Eventually, Dr. Howard Hayes became the second owner when he purchased the car for use as a tow vehicle.
Scott Saylor remembers seeing the car in the Oakton neighborhood. ‘He lived two houses down from my mother,’ Mr. Saylor recalls.
Mr. Saylor spent a lot of time during his teenage years at his neighbor’s garage before he went off to college.
When he came back home, he went to visit Dr. Hayes and his Ford. He found that it has been parked since Oct. 13,1994, and it appeared to be in sad condition. The driver’s door was dented where it had been hit by a deer and algae were growing on the engine
hood. ‘Mice and crickets had taken up residence under the hood,’ Mr. Saylor says.
Dr. Hayes knew how much his young neighbor had once cared for the car so he offered to sell it to him. He must have been looking for a good home for his car because when asked the price, he replied, ‘a hundred dollars.’
Mr. Saylor hurried off to find a trailer and $100 and with a friend returned to get the Ford. ‘When we got done loading the car on the trailer,’ Mr. Saylor says, ‘He stuffed $40 in my shirt pocket and said, ‘You boys better get something to eat.’’
Mr. Saylor towed the car eight miles to his Chantilly home on Oct. 13, 2003, nine years to the day after the car last had been moved. Then the fun began. ‘There was a lake in the trunk,’ Mr. Saylor says, ‘and it had Fred Flintstone brakes.’ Amazingly, after the trunk was dried out, there was no rust evident. The lack of brakes was remedied with the installation of a new brake system.
The original grille survives but while Mr. Saylor located and sent for new headlight bezels in South Dakota and new door panels in New Jersey, he shipped both chrome bumpers off to be replated.
‘I have a lot of friends to thank who helped me,’ Mr. Saylor says. Most of the restoration work was completed in his garage at home. ‘It’s been a joy to work on,’ he says.
Virtually everything needed attention including the water pump, fuel pump, alternator and even the timing chain cover and the valve cover gaskets. The original Ford Motorcraft carburetor was set aside on the ‘save for later’ shelf in favor of a four-barrel Edelbrock carburetor that Mr. Saylor finds more to his liking. Gasoline from a 24-gallon tank feeds the big V-8. ‘The engine likes every bit of the 24 gallons,’ Mr. Saylor says.
Features on the car include a remote-control left-side mirror and a stationary right-side mirror. Power assist helps steer the car on its 121-inch wheelbase and the power brakes have 13-inch drums at each wheel.
A rectangular backup light is located in the center of each of the rectangular taillight lenses.
Mr. Saylor, a teacher of photography and fine arts at South County Secondary School, installed a new exhaust system so that there is a 2.5-inch exhaust pipe from the engine on back. All the power from the mighty engine is transferred to the pavement via a three-speed automatic transmission.
The all-black interior is mostly original although Mr. Saylor had a new black carpet installed. The black wraparound dashboard was designed with the driver, and driver only, in mind. All the controls and instruments are positioned directly in front of the driver. Even the AM/FM radio is included, to be operated by the driver’s left hand.
Right around Labor Day this year the restoration of the big Galaxie 500 was virtually completed as Mr. Saylor reinstalled both replated bumpers.
The odometer has yet to reach the 82,500-mile mark but after the rebuild Mr. Saylor says it is ready to go that far again - and more. ‘It’s a very solid car,’ he says with authority.
A decal on the massive air cleaner proudly proclaims that the engine beneath it is a 429-cubic-inch Thunder Jet V-8 .