Classic cars, by their very nature, have lived a long and busy life. That’s why the art of restoration is as popular now as it has ever been. Old cars collect miles and years, and with both, they collect dents, dings, corrosion, mechanical issues and more. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s par for the course. Classic cars should be used, and in doing so, things are going to need attention from time to time.
However, despite the above, there are cars that manage to dance the tango with time and come out unscathed. Just last year, we had a look at a fascinating collection of British Leyland cars, all of which were genuine survivor cars. Not one of them had seen the hot end of a welder, no panels had been replaced, no paint had been re-applied. It was, and still is, an outstanding collection of vehicles. Especially when you factor in the propensity of said vehicles to dissolve at the first hint of moisture.
All classic cars are great, but there is something about a survivor that is somewhat more captivating. How did it survive? How has it managed to live out its years without rusting away or being damaged? It’s utterly engrossing. Take a car like this ‘67 Ford Galaxie XL and the fascination for survivor cars goes through the roof. A car that was never available on UK soil, yet here it sits, with just 58,000 miles on the clock. It’s had a bit of work, yes, but nothing you’d call a full-on restoration. As such, this hulking, handsome machine is a 2020 representation of what it would be like to be car shopping in the States in the late ‘60s.
The car you’re looking at here is a ‘67 Ford Galaxie XL. The Galaxie came into existence in the late ‘50s, and was named in such a way as to cash in on the nationwide excitement for the space race. The Galaxie went through a number of changes, including a complete redesign in ‘65, resulting in the car we have here. It was a more angular, stocky and taller design than previous models. It was meaner, it had more presence and more muscle. Especially when painted in black, even more so if the Galaxie in question was a two-door.
It’s also the final era of the Galaxie during which it was still a looker – the ‘70s were not kind to it, with it growing into a bulbous, lazy, old thing. Think of your typical ‘70s American car and you’re there. The ‘65 third-generation model still had a degree of delicacy to it, it looked nimble and agile despite being a big machine.
The Galaxie was Ford’s premier offering in the ‘60s, and this is where you might expect us to tell you that the car pictured here is the fabled 500 model, however, it isn’t. There is more to the Ford Galaxie than the 500, as this XL goes to show. Backing a 390 cubic inch Ford FE V8, it’s no slouch. The engine, which is 6.4 litres in real money, is only 600cc smaller than the engine in 500. And when you’re talking about a car as big as Huddersfield, does 600cc matter? Exactly.
The car is owned by Phil Otley, who you may remember from the Scimitar feature. Yes, it’s clear to see that Phil has frankly exquisite taste in cars, though he did explain to us that the Galaxie wasn’t a planned purchase. It was in fact spotted collecting dust in a friend’s workshop. Knowing all too well what it was, Phil had to have a prod and a poke. What he found was a rock solid, if somewhat dusty and dirty ‘67 Galaxie XL 390. A deal was done and the car was shipped back to Phil’s workshop.
And here’s where the car earns its ‘survivor’ status. And remember, this car has been around for 53 years, it’s travelled thousands of miles, it’s called a new continent home, and yet the car you’re looking at here is largely original. That off-white interior? That’s how it came up after a lot of cleaning. The white dash, door cards and bucket seats aren’t worn or split, they were literally just dirty. Phil has, admittedly, replaced the headlining. But consider that a reward for the rest of the interior being so mint.
The chrome is all original, as is the paint. It suffers light crazing and cracking in places, but it’s well within the realms of patina than anything else. It reminds you that this car has lived, it has been used. The imperfect paint makes the car, ironically, perfect in our eyes. The glass, too, is all original. This is a 58,000 mile car, and it’s clear that every one of those miles has been covered with a caring driver behind the wheel. This car has been loved, not abused.
As you’d expect, it’s mechanically spot on. Phil has done some service work to the engine, and some maintenance such as changing hoses, fitting Pertronix ignition and the whole thing breathes through stainless pipes, but that’s it – other than a lick of paint. The transmission has been refreshed, too, but more for peace of mind than because of mechanical malady.
The Galaxie starts on the button, barking into life with a pleasing urgency followed by that deep, lazy V8 burble. As Phil shuffles it about to satisfy the wants of our lens, the sound of the engine is enough to send a joyful shiver down your spine. This is the noise, the V8 burble, the one from films and TV, the one that made you love American cars in the first place. And despite its size, it moves around with poise and ease, it’s not a hard car to drive. Instead, it’s an ‘arm out’ car to drive. Get the windows down, enjoy the breeze as it floods in through the pillarless body. There is a radio nestled in that padded dash (a new feature for ‘67) but you won’t use it. The engine’s song will be enough.
Any survivor car is exciting, but to have an American example here on our soggy shores is something else. Cars like this simply don’t happen, what with the (admittedly wonderful) love for customisation and hot rodding that goes hand in hand with American iron. But here we are, this Galaxie is very much here, and it’s every bit the car it was when it rolled off the line in ‘67. Okay, it’s got a few wrinkles, its headlining isn’t factory and the tyres are new, but that’s about it. It’s pure Americana. And let’s face it, it fulfills the American car checklist. Black? Check. Two-door? Check. Thumping V8? Check.
Fancy a slice of American pie? Well, if you’ve got £18,500 you can buy the 1967 Ford Galaxie featured here, and having seen and heard it in the metal, we can promise you it’s worth every penny.