By John Gunnell
photos by Jerry Heasley
With “performance” as their by word in 1964, the ’64 Fords had a ready-to-go-fast look. A restyled body with a strong, lavish use of sculptured sheet metal from stem to stern helped the gorgeous Galaxie achieve a racy appearance.
A full-width horizontal-bar grille with triple vertical ridges and wide-spaced, side-by-side headlamps gave the Galaxie a “customized” image. The rear deck lid latch panel was deeply scooped to surround Ford’s trademark large, round taillamps. On the plush Galaxie 500/XL it housed a horizontal silver anodized beauty panel. This top-of-the-line model came only in two-door and four-door hardtop and convertible models with standard bucket seats and center console. They were sometimes converted into muscle cars with the optional 427-cid V-8s.
The highly successful 427 was available in three versions, which were reviewed in great detail in the March 1964 issue of Car Life magazine. All three engines were fairly costly. The Q-code 427-cid 425-hp engine cost $461.60, plus $109 for a dual-carb setup. It was the volume-production version of the 427 that most showroom buyers ordered. Ford expected to make 10,000 to 15,000 of these. This 427 “street” engine had a 10.7:1 compression ratio and used premium gas, although super-premium was recommended. It had cross-bolted mains, a cast crankshaft and slightly looser-than-normal fitting pistons.
Carrying the same advertised horsepower rating as the first engine, the 427-R developed more torque. It carried two four-barrel carburetors on a special intake manifold and had revised-port heads and a cam with slightly more overlap than normal. Although this V-8 could be dealer ordered, it was not a street motor.
Designed for racing, the last 427 was a not-for-public-sale NASCAR version. To meet racing rules it had a single four-barrel carb. The block was custom milled and fitted with special cylinder heads, a high-rise intake, a NASCAR camshaft, special high-strength-alloy bearing caps and other unique features. Stronger push rods, a special air intake chamber and a baffled, high-capacity oil pan were used. Car Life estimated output at 520 hp at 6500 rpm.
A four-speed manual transmission was standard in Fords with a 427. A special heavy-duty automatic transmission was developed as an option for use with high-output 427 such as the R-code version. It actually consisted of a Lincoln gearbox behind a Ford Cruise-O-Matic torque converter with a special aluminum housing. A small number of special parts were added to the transmission to help handle the extra torque. Actual in-the-car performance for this tranny was about equal to that of a good four-speed manual gearbox, but more consistent.
The 427-powered full-sized Fords were the hot ticket for stock car racing and to get them sanctioned for NASCAR, Ford kept making big muscle cars. A high-rise manifold and “high-rev” package were certified as production options and were also legal for racing. A Galaxie A/Stock dragster package was offered for two-door 427-powered models, as was a B/Stock Dragster package (which added a low-riser manifold). These cars came in white with red interiors. Body sealer, sound deadening insulation and heaters were deleted. Added were lightweight seats and a fiberglass “power bubble” hood. The grilles were modified with fiberglass air induction vents. These packages didn’t make sense for heavier convertibles.
Motor Trend described the ’64 Fords as big, solid cars that do what they’re supposed to and very well indeed. “From the accessory-loaded family sedan to the fierce drag-strip contender, all show the results of Ford’s Total Performance package,” said assistant technical editor Bob McVay. “And on some Fords, the Total is more total than on others.” A 427-powered stock-bodied Ford was basically good for a 0-to-60 time of just over 6 seconds and a quarter-mile time of just under 15 seconds.
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