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'67 Galaxie 500 ragtop is a blast in blue

This unrestored 1967 Galaxie 500 ragtop has been a hit since day one.
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The 1967 Ford Galaxie had a new grille with a “W” shape.
Note the 1967 Illinois antique vanity plate. (John McILwee photo)

1967 was a disappointing year for the Ford Motor Co. Worldwide factory sales of Ford-built cars and trucks declined 20 percent from 1966 due to economic uncertainty in both domestic and foreign markets, and a two-month strike against Ford by the United Auto Workers. Together, these factors resulted in the loss of more than 600,000 cars and trucks from scheduled production. Sales of cars, trucks and tractors totaled 3,588,592 units, down from 4,525,170 in 1966.

The new Ford lines were introduced on Sept. 30, 1966, with 47 models available: Falcon, Fairlane, Ford, Thunderbird and Mustang. The flagship Ford line included 18 restyled models ranging from the economy Custom series through the intermediate trim level Galaxie to the XL, LTD and station wagons. The feature Ford of this column, a Galaxie 500 convertible, is one of 18,859 built with the V-8. There were also 209 assembled with the inline six.

The 76A Galaxie 500 convertible had all the styling refinements, series ornamentation and special features of the Galaxie 500 hardtop models. Special convertible features include a five-ply, one-piece vinyl, rubber and cotton top with long-lasting “heat welded seams.” The top is power-operated and can be raised or lowered easily by a control switch on the instrument panel. The stacked top folds easily into a storage well with a top boot to provide a tailored look when placed over the “stacked top.”

The interior appointments include all-vinyl upholstery as standard with bright-metal side shields standard on the front seat and the back seat. The Galaxie 500 convertible also shares the luxury features of the Galaxie 500 hardtops and sedans, such as color-keyed nylon-rayon carpeting; pleated all-vinyl door panels; paddle-type door handles; glove box and ash tray lights; bright metal side shields on front seat and seat back; instrument cluster directly in front of the driver for easy viewing and accessibility; and wood-grained applique on the instrument panel with the “Galaxie 500” plaque.

The standard Galaxie powerplan was the 150-hp Big Six with Synchro-Smooth manual transmission. Four optional V-8 engines from 200 to 345 hp, and the SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic (automatic and manual combined) transmission, were available. Based on the production data, it’s clear that most buyers opted for a V-8 engine.

The base price of the Galaxie convertible was $3,003.23. Owners opting for the 200-hp V-8 paid an extra $106.72 and an additional $197.89 for the Cruise-O-Matic. A total of 39 items of optional equipment gave the buyer plenty of room to add to the comfort and convenience of his car and, of course, the price. For example, a six-way power seat cost $94.75, a Selectaire Conditioner $356.09, a push-button AM radio $57.51 and power steering an extra $94.95.

Tom McILwee of Itasca, Ill., owns a 1967 Brittany Blue convertible with the 289-cid V-8, Cruise-O-Matic transmission and a recently added dual exhaust system. It includes plenty of bright work, deluxe wheel covers, dual side-view mirrors (driver remote), color-keyed seat belts, power steering, an electric clock and an AM/FM push-button radio. Everything works and the paint, top and interior are all in exceptionally good condition considering the car is 42 years old.

McILwee said he first saw the car about 10 years ago at Roselle Ford (now Friendly Ford) of Roselle, Ill., when it was parked next to the service write-up desk during its annual summer check-up. It was sold new at the dealership on Nov. 7, 1966, and, according to the door tag info, built in Chicago just six days earlier. After seeing the car again over several summers, McILwee passed a note through the dealership to the owner, expressing an interest to be the first in line should they ever decide to sell it. A few years later he received a phone call that the car was for sale. The rest is history.

The original owner was ill when McILwee bought the car in 2001 from the owner’s second wife. She told McILwee that this had been his first wife’s car and that she had fallen in love with it the day she saw it on the showroom floor. Unfortunately, she died unexpectedly in 1969 and her husband could never part with it. He wasn’t a car guy, but was careful about its winter storage or it wouldn’t have survived Chicago in its near-mint condition. McILwee found an oil change sticker indicating that the car had 28,000 miles on it in 1969. When he bought it, the odometer read 31,446 miles. The Ford dealership where he first saw the car serviced it regularly and attested to the original mileage. When it was put away for the winter, its odometer showed 37,730 miles.

The antique Illinois license plate displayed on the blue Galaxie reads “Rapsody’ for George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” (Illinois antique vanity plates only allow seven letters). McILwee was captivated by the exceptional original condition of the car and its very appealing color combination.

“It looked like a vacation,” he says. “The color of the ocean. I found myself spellbound by the dazzling Brittany Blue paint and was swimming in it. The contrasting light-blue crinkle-pattern vinyl interior and the white convertible top (with glass rear window) were the perfect complement.”

McILwee drives the car sparingly. However, last summer, he drove it 550 miles round trip to the Indiana Region Shelby American Club meet at Brown County Park. To his pleasant surprise, the car won the Award of Excellence trophy at the event. He also owns a silver mink 1963 Ford Thunderbird sport roadster — one of only 455 built for ’63. It is a California car with 95,000 original miles and one repaint.

Author’s Note: I am indebted to the following for background information for this column: “Buyer’s Digest of New Car Facts For 1967”; “Ford Motor Company Annual Report for 1967”; “Standard Catalog of Ford,” fourth edition, by John Gunnell; miscellaneous Ford Motor Co. publications; and owner Tom McILwee.

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