By on January 28, 2010

I know some of you are getting tired of hearing about Eugene’s eccentricities. But where else can you order up a genuine Curbside Classic to deliver your pizza? That is, as an alternative to bicycle delivery, which is also on tap (oops, sorry). Well, Dominos does claim to be the Pizza Delivery Experts, and if you call the River Road store and ask for Josh to deliver your Cheesybread and Cinnastix, you’ll have a chance to check out his haulin’ 1971 Galaxie 500. Who knows, for the right price, he might even deliver long distance. Just be generous with your tip, because his beast is lucky to break single digits in the mileage department, the way he drives. Which is undoubtedly a lot gentler than I drove the exact same car when I was his age.

Oh boy, does this car ever wash the memories over me; kinda like having a bucket of cold pig piss tossed in my face. Uh oh; am I revealing my delicate feelings about this lovely Ford too soon? We’ve barely started, and I’m trying so hard to be “fair and balanced” these days. But I speak from a deep-vinyl-immersion experience of these ’71 Fords: I was a car jockey in 1970-1971 (you can read about it here), and I spent my afternoons after high school driving abusing them, and loving/hating every minute of it.  In fact, when I think about these loathsome cars, what always appears in my mind’s tortured eye is a vile bile-green-on-green one, exactly like this one.

It was the color combination of choice that year, and we sold scads of them. Seems like they always went into the hands of a milquetoast middle-aged couple  that drove it to Immaculate Contraception every Sunday. It screams everything I hated about Towson in 1970, so it does my heart good to see one living out its last days like this. It’s a fitting punishment for it to be pounded into the ground by a kid hauling a load of hot buffalo wings.

It’s not like the ones I drove got any better treatment: my spite for them induced perpetual full throttle, full brake pedal, and full steering wheel inputs, all the time; even simultaneously. How else does one learn about the more bizarre aspects of vehicle dynamics and become an accomplished driver? Actually, I was just following Ford’s new car break-in recommendation: “avoid steady state speeds”. I’m on it!

Not that full throttle accomplished all that much anyway, especially in the barely-running state they arrived in. Every new car back then was ferried by yours truly to a special bay where a full-time dedicated mechanic gave it a thorough tune up! Well, minus the new parts, that is. And he made sure there weren’t any obviously loose parts ready to fall off at the first pot hole.

It was the low point in Ford’s assembly quality parabola. What Old Henry started and Alan Mulally is getting back to, Bunkie Knudsen and Henry II dragged into the gutter. I don’t know that I should blame Bunkie personally, but he was there at the time this car was designed. Which also explains the lovely beak on the nose of this car. Knudsen made his career with Pontiac, or vice versa, as the case may be. He ended up at Ford in ’68 when he was passed over for the GM Presidency, and lasted just long enough to graft his version of what was Pontiac’s key to success in the sixties on the front of the ’70 T-Bird and this Ford.

Hank II never took a liking to him, and reportedly sent Ford’s vice president for public relations, Ted Mecke, to Knudsen’s home at night to inform him that he would be fired, telling Knudsen that “Henry sent me here to tell you that tomorrow will be a rough day at work.” It lead to an inversion of Henry I’s favorite expression “History is bunk” to “Bunkie is history”.

Good riddance. Although Ford in the seventies after Knudsen didn’t amount to all too much either. Iaccoca’s legendary innovation in the early sixties turned into legendary imitation, degradation and stasis. Ford kept big cars while GM was frantically downsizing, which lead to a serious flirt with bankruptcy in 1979. Ford’s recent Death Watch wasn’t the first. Nor the second. Will it be the last?

Let’s stop the speculation and get back to hammering throttles. As I was saying, there wasn’t a lot of zip in these “Total Performance” Fords, despite the racing efforts. Theoretically, the plain-Jane Custom model could be had with the 240 six; but I never had the privilege. The Galaxies started with the 351, which most of them sported. But Josh wants to make sure your pizza arrives piping hot, so his green bomb sports a 400, which was rated at 260 (gross, for the last time) hp.

Sufficient torque to pull donuts on the far-distant back lot of Towson Ford, out of ear and eye-shot of the office. And it would barrel down (then uncrowded) York Road out to Timonium or the Beltway fast enough, until it ran out of breath or threatened to become airborne. But the real test was the trip to the body shop, which was not an uncommon stopping point before delivery. In 1971, Quality was Ford Job No. 472947658489.

Towson Ford’s body shop wasn’t anywhere near Towson at all, but way the hell down Falls Road, a windy old trail-turned-road that followed the eponymous river. That’s where my hate for these barges really blossomed. It felt like I was trying to plow furrows into the pavement with the rims through those tight curves; give me a Pinto, please! No question about it; the big Fords were the sloppiest handlers of the Really Big Three. And by far the ugliest, if you hadn’t already picked up on that between the lines. That leaves the question: does the ’71 Ford have any redeeming qualities? No. But if you don’t believe me, call 541-461-9714, and ask for the BigCheesyFord Special, and confirm it for yourself.

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113 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1971 Ford Galaxie 500 Pizza Delivery Car...”


  • avatar
    Adamatari

    Woah, I think you’ve toned down the bile too much. Have you been taking Valium? Where is the hate?

    I kid.

    I think this is probably the most entertainingly vicious thing I’ve read in a long time. I think I understand now why Ford can produce a Mustang for decades but has had to sink seemingly great names like “Galaxie”. Seriously great name to put on a turd, too bad…

    I am also suddenly glad that I’ve never had to drive anything this terrible. I’ve drive cars with less than confidence inspiring brakes (Saturn SL2, Ford Taurus), or cars that were built to a price (Ford Festiva, actually a pretty fun car), but I haven’t driven anything that would invoke such a flaming hatred. I am blissful in my ignorance of how bad a car can be.

  • avatar
    Hoser

    I had a ’76 LTD (400/C6)with the same color roof and the car a little darker than that one as late as 1998 or so. The vacuum headlight doors even still worked. The handling was as bad as you make it out to be, but I still loved it. I remember tuning in Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” on the OEM AM only radio one warm summer day with the window down (A/C never worked when I had it) and arm out the window. It was a great feeling cruising down the road in that car with the radio blaring and the sun shining on me.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    The endless parade of Oregonian shit boxes. Are there any nice cars around you?????????

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      @CyCarConsulting, I guess you missed the 240Z? The Imperial? The Rabbit? That’s just in the last week!?!
      Weather got you down? I’m not offended if you want to skip CC; but get used to it, because this is not Hemmings; these are the cars I find sitting on the street. What’s sitting out in the winter where you live?

  • avatar
    gm0ney

    Your vitriolic rant brings back fond memories the 1986 Olds Delta 88 my dad handed me in 1993 – absolutely the worst car I ever drove.

    Terrible rust, rotten egg exhaust, (oh, the ladies were hot for the rotten-egg-rustmobile, let me tell you), cost thousands to keep on the road for the last 4 years of its life. Random stalling, lousy heat, lame handling, random seatbelt warning sound (slapping the dash would sometimes stop it), annual CV boot and joint replacements. The only thing nice I can say about the car was that stereo was pretty good for its time.

    It was my dad’s last Oldsmobile – he bought three of them beginning in 1972 until GM poisoned the well in 1986. GM has been on my own shitlist ever since. I won’t even rent one.

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    You know, done up in all black, chrome trim removed except for the bumper and roof, and some nice rims, that car could be pretty bitchin.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    As always; great write-up, Paul!
    This makes me think of my uncle, in Seattle’s Scnadinavian enclave of Ballard, who had a 69 or 70 Ford when I visited him in ’74. It was a barge, absolutely, but it had some redeeming features;the seriuosly driver-oriented dash, where it was absolutely impossible to see the speedometer from the shotgun seat. The radio-placement was even “better”, hidden inside the dash to the left(!) of the instruments, no fiddling with the radio by anyone but the driver! Yeah, and the 4-door hardtop was cool when all the windows were laboriously cranked down. Cranked up, the worst storms were shut out, only a mild breeze and lots of noise passed through the not-exactly tight-fitting window seals!

  • avatar
    sightline

    The local Palo Alto pizza place (Patxi’s) used to have a delivery guy that drove a fairly perfect Porsche 356. If you know Palo Alto, this won’t surprise you at all.

    • 0 avatar
      gimmeamanual

      It’s obvious that the perfect car to deliver pizzas in is a VW Bug covered in blinking lightbulbs.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      Actually, the best pizza-delivery vehicle is probably a Smart. High mileage + small size = win, especially from a $$$ standpoint (mileage is the same whether or not you drive a boat or a fuel sipper). Of course, they are too new to be bought cheap enough used to really work yet-something like a Geo Metro or old Honda Civic makes more sense in the real world for the time being.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    My dad had one of these, brown on brown – blahh, as his first car when we came to the USA in 1976. It eventually got passed down to my older sister than me. It got me back and forth to high school for a while until the exhaust pipes disintegrated faster than a speeding Toyota.

    The only thing I can remember about it was the ticket I got for excessive noise, which I didn’t pay since I sold the vehicle, and got my license suspended for that. I kindly explained to the Judge that I no longer had defective equipment once I sold it. As he buried his face in his hands he muttered, “Dismissed, but you have to pay court cost to get your license back”, all the while shaking his head side-to-side. Ahh, to be 17 again….

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Paul, Paul, Paul. OK, I understand your frustration. I have the same visceral reactions to old Chevy vans.

    OK, someone has to show some love to these old LTDs, so I guess it will be me. Agreed, they were the worst handling big car of the era. And agreed, quality was an afterthought. The vinyl on the seats would split after about 3 years, and the dash would develop more cracks than any other I ever saw. And the body structure was a twisty, creaky, loose piece of crap. You fail to mention the rust. Living in the midwest, these developed huge, gaping rust holes by the time they were 4 years old. One of the most rust-prone cars ever built. And there was the transmissions that would jump into reverse by themselves.(This is showing love?)

    But i have to diverge from you on the looks of the car. This was a beautiful car when they came out. I still remember the first one I ever saw. I was about 12. It was an LTD 2 door, and the exact same color combo as the car shown. It looked way more expensive than it was. As a lover of land yachts, I developed a passion for these Fords. There was nobody more let down than me when all of the quality problems came to the surface as these aged. I still think it is a better looking car than the 71 Impala/Caprice (and the 71 Fury wasn’t even in the same ballpark).

    I never owned one of these, as their faults became apparent long before I got my drivers license. But for pure looks, this remains one of my favorite cars of this era. Thanks for showing us this one, because I cannot remember when I saw one last (all those in my area reverted to ore years ago). So Paul, just take some long deep breaths, make a cup of hot chocolate, and you will feel better in an hour or so..

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I’m with you.

      We’re about the same age … at the time, my uncle worked for Ford as a mid-level HR manager (eventually retiring as VP HR FMCC), so it seemed each time he visited, he had a different car … one summer evening, he showed up in a version of this, 4DR, LTD Brougham medallion on the C-pillar (which I misread as “Bro-gen-ham” to the amusement of all around), dark green, black top, white walls (each tire being identical in size and form, something Paul’s discovery can not claim) plush interior with all the gadgets, and the best part was the three-segment tail lamp in the bumper (the Galaxie had that plastic panel where the LTD’s middle light segment was)…

      At the same time, my dad bought a new (boring brown) ’72 Chevy Kingswood wagon to replace the beautiful (cream yellow) ’69 Ford Country Squire wagon my mom drove (worst powertrain in the world … mom became very adept at following the Ford dealer’s instructions to open the hood, remove the aircleaner, insert a screw-driver into the carb choke-plate and crank until a big flame erupted out of the carb and the engine started (this was very exciting, like having your own dragon-entertainment device under the hood every time you left home, but sadly did not last long because mom grew tired of the floor-show…)

      Paul, are you really sure Bunkie can be blamed for the beak? I see the design as evoloution of the pointed and compact center grille theme that pervaded Ford and Mercury products from the late-60’s on (just like the power-dome theme on the hoods… besides, I thought Bunkie was devoting 110% to the Boss Mustang!

      Other observations:
      – the kid is not using his shoulder-strap! I think it was still at this time, up to around 1973 or 74, that the shoulder strap was separate from the lap belt, but by that time had been integrated to detachably snap-into the male plate on the lap belt …
      – front and rear tires are of two different sizes … almost as clownish looking as the cars we saw in the high-school lot, but definitely not as cute as “Oliver” the ’62 Opel from Top Gear’s trek across the african desert.
      – the missing DF door trim allows me to recognize the door release handle as the same as in my ’69 Cougar, one can also see the full-size “guard rail beam” inside the door (these were new anti-intrusion technology around that time;
      – what does Pizza Dude use for a horn? have you no vehicle inspection requirements in OR?
      – the 400M was a pig of an engine;
      – the front grille was, IIRC, the full-size Ford’s first use of a plastic grill assembly (previously they had used die-cast pot metal (Zinc) grille sections;

      Paul, as you drove those Ford on the twisty, undulating, MD backroads, do you have any recollection on how the front clips on these cars wobbled, up and down, side to side, seemingly out of resonance with the hood, so that the gaps seemed to wax and wane? (maybe this only happened as the cars grew older and more “flexible”?)

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      Me too. I always liked the looks of this Galaxie (at least the front end). And I always wondered why they looked like Pontiacs! Thanks Paul for finally explaining that one after all those years…

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Glad to hear your recallections, Robert. About the horrid flex in the structure of these cars, I understood that some of it was on purpose. I recall reading at the time that the engineers thought it wass a good idea to use the front frame to soak up some of the bumps in addition to the suspension. I think that the theory was to dissapate shocks that made it through the suspension, for a much smoother and quieter ride. What a stupid idea – all it did was create a car that shuddered like jello every time you hit a bump.

      I drove one of these when it was about 7 or 8 years old. Positively scary. The windshield had cracked from the constant body flex, the shocks were shot so the thing wallowed unbelievably, and shook (with accompanying squeaks and rattles) over every bump. And the lower doors had gaping holes.

      My funniest memory of these comes from my first sighting of the green LTD. It was parked at a boy scout function. I rode there with a teenage kid who was one of the older scouts. He had an orange 57 Bel Air 2 door sedan, that was a really nice old car. When we saw the new 71 LTD, all he could say was “what I wouldn’t give for one of those.”

      I still maintain that when these were new, this was the first legitimate move upmarket by Ford into middle priced territory. When new, the doors shut with a much nicer sound than the 71 GM big cars. We had neighbors who had a string of Olds 88s, but in 1972, the guy bought a blue LTD Brougham. But by 74, it was traded on another 88. By the 80s, the Crown Victoria (with quality much improved from the 71) started to show up in a lot of garages where Oldsmobiles and Buicks had been before.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I liked the ’69-’70 version much better, especially in looks. At least it was more original in its design. This style looks very contrived.
      Robert and JP; thanks for explaining and confirming why these things felt so bad right off the truck. I was seventeen, and lacking in lots of frame of reference, but I knew these handled much worse than the ’70 Impala I had driven.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The 1953 Studebaker featured a flexible frame that was supposed to soak up the bumps, althought it just made the car rattle more and feel flimsy.

      Both the 1965 Ford AND the 1965 Chevrolet featured frames that were supposed to provide some flex to improve ride. So I don’t think that the Ford had lousy handling solely because of its flexible frame, unless Ford made the frame even MORE flexible than before for 1971.

      I blame very soft springs and shocks. (The flexing body was probably because of cost-cutting mischief. Ford was on a decontenting kick in the early 1970s, as was GM.)

      That was a cheap and easy way to provide the “boulevard ride” that Ford pushed, especially with Lincolns and Mercurys, throughout the 1970s. Ford really pushed a quiet interior and a soft ride in the early 1970s – much more so than either Chevrolet or Plymouth. It was THE main selling point for the big Fords at that time. Just don’t try to go around any corners too fast…

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      Robert.Walter
      Thanks for reminding me of the cold-start entertainment. My mom also was adept at the the screwdriver-in-the-carb technique on her 66 and 69 Country Squires.

      One day I offered to help a friend start his green 71. We didn’t have a screw driver handy, so I just held the choke plate open with my finger. When that dragon roared it moved my hairline back 3 inches!

      FWIW, this technique was often necessary on GMs and Mopars as well.

    • 0 avatar
      zenith

      I’ve owned 4 late ’60s thru late ’70s Fords in my lifetime–a ’69 Custom 500, a ’70 LTD 4-door hardtop, a ’77 LTD coupe and a’78 LTD 4-door “pillared hardtop”. None of those cars seemed to have “jello-like structure” but there was something about the ’71-’72 big Fords that gave me pause. In fact, I rejected a couple of ’72s to “gain just one year” and buy the ’70.

      The ’70 just felt more solid despite its being a true hardtop. Sure looked neat with all the windows down.

      Didn’t like any of the ’73 or ’74 Fords I test drove before deciding on the 7-year leap to the ’77. The interiors on those 2 years were exceptionally cheap looking.

      Suspension on the two older cars was overly soft, but the I found the build sheets for both the ’77 and ’78 and on both the heavy duty springs and heavy duty front and rear sway bar options had been checkmarked. Body lean was greatly diminished and neither car ever came crashing down on its suspension stops like the older 2 did on every spring’s new crop of potholes.

      The ’77 with the 400 engine got the best gas overall mileage of the 4–probably due to its 2.47 rear end. The one with the widest mileage range was the ’78 which got 22 on the highway in summer and 6 in town in zero-degree weather.

      Wouldn’t mind another ’70 4-door hardtop with the ’77’s “economy” axle and heavy-duty suspension.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    The coupe and convertible versions of these were actually pretty good looking to me. I don’t remember which one it was, but Clint Eastwood’s character had a convertible in one of the “Dirty Harry” movies that got some decent screen time. The rest of the movie was filled with plain-jane 4-doors as detective cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Ford had a whole department in Hollywood, who’s only purpose was product placement … Harry drove the cool car, because they were trying to appeal to guys from my dad’s (the Greatest) generation that were a little too old for Mustangs… The department was also successful on TV, consider Charlie’s Angels, etc. (Chrysler had shows like Adam-12, Emergency, etc.). Sometimes, they had trouble getting cars back … I once heard that a car went missing for a whole year until they tracked it down (some actor had been driving it.)

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      Then I guess it’s only appropriate that Clint’s latest movie was “Gran Torino” rather than “Caprice Classic”

    • 0 avatar
      AnthonyG

      Magnum Force – the second Dirty Harry film features a lot of these, the simple Custom 500 4dr sedans .

      Hal Holbrook, playing Harry’s corrupt boss, gets blown up in one at the end of the film.

      These cars also featured in Diamonds are Forever, The Streets of San Francisco, and a Burt Reynolds moonshine running film, White Lightening.

      Ford’s product placement department really earned their pay in the late 1960s/early 1970s!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Btw, As a boy, I always loved Omega Man and the cars in it red ’70 Ford convertable, blue ’70 Mustang convertable, brown ’70 Cougar (in his apartment garage), Army Command Car (I don’t know if Dodge or Ford), the Land Rover (and the funny little Jeep), also the dust covered (brown?) Opel GT in the dealership, and the red ’65 Galaxie Convertable he shoots up near the end.)

      Overall, I loved the ’69 and ’70 Ford because they had those cool hidden headlamps and great grille design, and that power dome hood theme…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    We had a version of this car in our family, though I think it was closer to a 77 or 78. I believe it was called an LTD, for Luxury Trim Design.

    Ours was chocolate brown with similar color velour upholstery, a popular color combo in the 70s. When it wasn’t in the shop, which was most of the time, it was a very comfortable Nimitz class cruiser. An F18-Hornet could be landed on the hood with room to spare!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I never heard any Ford guy refer to Luxury Trim Design … most said simply LTD, and if you asked what it meant, they said “Limited”… are you sure Lux Trim Design isn’t just something somebody made up with the letters? Because if it really was a design package, given the success and endurance of the name, Ford would have plastered LTD on every Ford-branded car made … closest they came was re-naming the Gran Torino the LTD II in 1977, but this was just a way to bridge the gap between overly big fuel-pig Panthers and something a bit (not much) more economical.

    • 0 avatar
      AnthonyG

      LDO (Luxury Decor Option) was a popular option on mid 70s Fords, and after a while it turned into a model ‘grade’ – like ‘LX’ on modern cars.

      So you could buy a Maverick ‘LDO’ straight from the dealer – I think this is where the original poster is coming from.

      The LTD debuted in the mid 1960s, as a reply to the Plymouth Fury ‘VIP’, and the Caprice, which came out around the same time. I think Plymouth was the first in 1965 and the other two came out in 1966. Most Ford guys will say LTD stood for ‘Limited’, although I don’t think it ever officially stood for anything as far as Ford were concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The LTD came about before the Caprice or VIP. Ford debuted the Galaxie LTD for the 1965 model; the Caprice debuted halfway through the 1965 model year. The VIP didn’t appear until the 1966 model year.

    • 0 avatar
      Buckwheat

      My wife’s first car was a ’78 LTD coupe, handed down from her parents when she got her “farm permit” in ’82. Two transmission replacements, and repairs too numerous to list by the time it was traded off with 65K. She is certain that LTD stood for “Limited Time Driving”; I can’t repeat what FORD stands for.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I love the 70-71 Galazies and LTDs. They were pretty quick with the 351s and the bigger engines were even faster. I’d love to find one to restore as a whiskey runner (a-la some old Burt Reynolds movie.)

    I fear that some events in your early life have soured you excessively on these great old pieces of Americana.

    The hard part: Finding one that didn’t rust to pieces within 5 years. At least in the North.

    And the post 71s didn’t hold a candle to the earlier ones. Lower compression, lead-free gas and “vacuum lines out to here” made the 72s and onward really suck. Comparing a bloated 76 to a 71 is comparing apples to oranges.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Re rust … the lower door panels were the worst … on the LTD’s, there was a wide fluted trim panel on the lower part of the door (down to the rocker panel), and after the door rotted out, these pieces gleefully sought detached freedom…

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I think this is a shot from “White Lightning”

    http://www.coolcarsinmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/1971-ford-custom-500-white-lightning.jpg

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “That leaves the question: does the ‘71 Ford have any redeeming qualities? ”

    Yeah, one BIG one, Ford sold hundreds of thousands of them.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    My belief is that it had many. BTW, see the grill on this car for the solution to CC.

  • avatar
    otsegony

    I have to agree with Paul about this era of Ford full-size cars. I drove a 1970 LTD wagon for a florist in High School and College in the late 70s. The car had well over 100k on the clock and it was a miracle to get the car going, get it through my route and get back to the shop without breaking down. It had two major problems that made me fear for my life, it often stalled out when making right hand turns into intersections and the car “crabbed” as it went down the road and would creep to the left, so if you didn’t pay close attention you would drift into oncoming traffic. I once had to take the car into NYC to pick up flowers from the wholesale market at 4am and prayed the entire way in and out that it wouldn’t strand me on the far Westside of Manhattan with the hookers, junkies and hustlers who called the docks home. Aside from that it was a fine car…

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    @Robert.Walker: Paul is correct. The beaked Ford products were a direct result of Knudsen’s influence.This was verified by various issues of Motor Trend of the period. Also mentioned a “crash program” of some sort to get the prow on the Thunderbird for 70 to better compete with the 69 and later Grand Prix, I guess.

    These were quite pronounced. The power bulge hoods on Lincolns and Mercuries can trace their origins to the 65 Continental. The theme is different from the beak, more blunt than pointed. And of course Mercury, being in the “Lincoln Continental Tradition” [for a few years anyway]…. aped the same design cues as it’s upper crust bro.

  • avatar
    NickR

    The 70s…I am a bit younger than the author, so I wasn’t a driver until into the mid 80s. However, I hated the 70s. The fashion looked hideous to me even then, the music was dreadful (for the most part), but the real downer was the cars. Most of them looked like crap, much like this one, and they seemed to have invented a particularly nauseating pallet of colours. This green, an unfortunate shade of brown, and various unappealing shades of yellowish gold.

    The 400M was a pig but mostly because it arrived right when the NA manufacturers were trying to figure out smog controls. An unfettered 400M won the Engine Masters Challenge a year or two ago. So there.

    The only funny memory I have of one of this era LTDs was when a friends older brother had to find a replacement engine and do an engine swap in one weekend. He was trying to see how fast it would go (along the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto no less) and all of a sudden the engine just stopped and, somewhat humourously, one of the idiots light came on. Considering the engine had more or less instantly welded itself into one piece, it seemed funny. Anyway, an engine was found and the swap completed (a 351M I believe) a fact his father discovered some time later when he went to top up the washer fluid. He looked surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Aw, you’re just sweet on the 400M because it was made in Windsor! ;O)

      BTW, yours is one of the best stories I’ve heard in a long time … love the engine swap … (even better than how we would hot-wire my buddy’s dad’s 26′ cabin cruiser (at my instigation and I did the hot-wiring), and take it out on Lake St. Clair, run it nearly out of gas and return it without a refill … his dad thought he had a fuel leak, or someone was siphoning fuel — or how we (again at my instigation, with him as the wheelman, me manipulating the umbrella, would take his dad’s golf umbrellas, put them out the window, drive down the highway and try to hold the umbrella against the A-pillar, windscreen, roof and passenger window, and try to see how fast we could go before the vacuum or airflow fliped the umbrella inside out and trashed it… we had to discontinue this experiment because his dad ran out of umbrellas…)

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I learned to drive on the station wagon version of this. When the first op came to drive without proper supervision a friend and I took it out for a top speed run, I watch the road, he the speedo. Somewhere around 100mph the headliner started to inflate and ballooned all the way down to the seat back. Once we scrubbed off the speed it went right back to normal.
    I will say one thing about the 70’s era Fords growing up and seriously abusing a Galaxie, Maverick and Pinto, they were tough and hard to kill, very sloppy and crude, but tough and reliable.

  • avatar
    plee

    As a manager with Avis Rent a Car during this time, I got to drive home a different car every evening. My commute was 50 minutes each way. We had mostly Plymouth Fury 111’s and Dodge Polara’s as full size cars with quite a few Impala’s and Catalina’s sprinkled in the fleet. The Chrysler products by far had the best handling but the quality control was barely acceptable on most cars back then. Poor paint, misaligned chrome trim, bad window sealing, loose screws were common to all. At least this Ford is still running.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Best line of the day: ‘deep-vinyl-immersion experience.’ I had a ’70 Montego, green on green, this ‘mid-sized’ car weighed only 200lb less than a full sized Chrysler (3900lb). It cornered on its door handles and if the poor little 302 could speak it would have been saying ‘I think I can’t, I think I can’t I think I can’t. I can’t imagine driving one of these Yank tanks with a straight six, acceleration would have been measured on a calendar.

    If there is a redeeming quality is their unwillingess to die, you have to call it that, because reliability is too complimentary. Like one of those Eastern bloc copies of a Fiat 124, this jumble of ill fitting parts, and dead on arrival styling keeps stumbling along.

    Up until this morning I never noticed the similarity between the ’70 tail lights and the ’60. The proboscus front end styling makes one wonder if some Ford bean counter still hadn’t zeroed out the development expenses on the Edsel account.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Ford jumped the shark with its 1971 big cars. The front on that Galaxie wasn’t as as Bunkierageous as the T-Bird’s and the Montego Cyclone’s, but the rest of the car was a real step down from previous iterations. Meanwhile, the new-for-71 Impala adopted a clean, rounded look that made the Galaxie look old, stale and too boxy.

    The back end of the Galaxie was particularly ungainly, with the awkward nip-and-tuck in the trunk lid. The Impala’s rear looked like a veritable Jaguar XKE in comparison.

  • avatar
    skor

    Ah yes, puke green, one in the triumvirate of early seventies car colors — shit brown and piss yellow being the other two.

    BTW Paul, the 240 straight six was not used as a car engine. The 240/300 straight six was a truck engine. The cars used the 144/170/200/250 series straight six engines.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      In all except the big cars. Seriously, the 240 was the base engine in the Custom. The 200/250 went into the small and mid-sized cars. Don’t ask why; maybe plant capacity, or?

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Paul, I checked and you are correct, the 240 I6 went into the big cars, although I’ve never seen a big Ford sedan of this era with an I6 of any type. The 240/300 series I6 differed significantly from the 144/170/200/250 series I6 engines. Most notably, the 240/300 had a detachable intake manifold, the Falcon/Mustang/Maverick I6 had a “log” type intake manifold that was cast integrally with the head. The one piece head used on the smaller cars SEVERELY limited breathing….and power. The 240/300, on the other hand, produced an ass-load of torque, that’s why they were mainly used in trucks/vans. On a side note, the 240/300 I6 engines were one of the finest gasoline work engines ever produced by any manufacturer — extremely reliable, durable, and capable of excellent fuel economy. The 240/300 was used not just in Ford vehicles, but UPS vans and industrial applications such as tractors, generators, wood chippers, ski lifts…you name it. This engine was in production up to 1996, numerous people, myself included, don’t know why Ford killed it off.

      On a side note, I’ve always been a fan of I6 engines because of their smoothness, and ability to produce large amounts of torque at low revs. While Ford treated their North American I6 engines like redheaded step children, the Australians took their Ford I6’s to heart, and developed modern cylinder heads that transformed them from weaklings into world class athletes. I’ve always wanted to put together a Falcon(or Maverick) street rod, but I don’t want to go the tired, been done a million types, small block route. Unfortunately, the daunting prospect of importing an I6 from Oz has always stopped me in my tracks. Well, it’s the free market to the rescue. Classic Inlines is an American company that produces a proper aluminum cylinder head that will bolt on to any American 144/170/200/250 block. Using this head allows one to build up an American Ford I6 with 4 barrel carb or fuel injection (even add super charging if you like). See here: http://www.classicinlines.com/Home.asp If this depression ever ends, and I can get my hands on some spare change, I’ll build an I6 using this head.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      skor, my ’66 F-100 has the 240, so I’m pretty familiar with it. And I’ve spent some time at fordsix.com and know all about the alum head for the small six. Interesting stuff, for inline lovers.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Paul…I guess familiarity bred contempt? Were these really THAT much worse than, say, a Plymouth Fury or Chevrolet Impala/Caprice?

    From what I’ve read, quality control on the Mopars – except for the Valiant/Duster and Dart – was even WORSE than on contemporary Ford products. And reliability was very iffy, too. And I can’t say that the fuselage Mopars were any better looking than this Ford (or Mercury). The 1972-73 Dodge Polara/Monaco is the ugliest full-size car of the 1970s.

    The GM cars looked best, but 1971 redesign of the full-size cars, while very clean, left lots to be desired in the way of structural rigidity. Have to say that my parents’ 1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale was an extremely reliable car, even if it was a dog in the acceleration department with its 350 V-8 and the front clip flapped and flexed like the wings of a 747 when there were bumps in the road.

    No doubt, though, that Ford was off its stride when this beast rolled off the assembly line. Iacocca had succeeded in getting Hernry Ford II to dispatch Bunkie Knudsen, but he didn’t pay much attention to engineering or quality control. Probably because he was too busy trying to save his own skin when he realized that Henry Ford II was tired of HIM, too.

    Ford in the 1970s is a classic case study of what happens when the executive team spends most of its team plotting against each other instead of building the best products possible.

    The scary part is that things would get worse for Ford in the 1970s…much, much worse, culminating in the awful 1980 Thunderbird and Cougar. Although I still have a soft spot for the 1973-79 Lincoln Continental and Mark IV/V.

    Anybody remember those ads from 1977 and 1978, where Ford boasted of its behemoths’ “road hugging weight” in response to GM’s downsized full-size cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Lets just say it was way worse than a ’70 Impala I had some experience with.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      I’ve driven them all, and I’d put the same vintage Fury or Impala above the Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      chrisgreencar

      The looks comments are subjective, and I’ve never driven the full-size Ford of that era, but I have owned (as collector cars) a 1978 Ford Thunderbird along with the similar-sized 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. For handling, turning radius, and general driving feel, the Chevy literally drives circles around the Ford. The Ford excels in quiet and comfort only.

  • avatar
    threeer

    There’s a parking garage somewhere in Paris that has a fair amount of dark green (as close to OD green as possible) paint that scrubbed off my best friend’s parent’s 2-door 500! And I thought my mother’s Montego was big (ok, it was…but at least it was somewhat fashionable with the rounded rear end). Now that I’ve driven many times in Germany, I’m fairly amazed that we ran cars that large over there. We must have scared the beejezuz out of the good folks of the Pfalz with our blue bomb (and my friend in their green aircraft carrier!)…

  • avatar
    h82w8

    Woah that thing’s butt-ugly! Let’s be honest, though. About anything out of Dee-troit in the ’70s just sucked. Bad. Arguing what was better – say, Galaxie vs Impala vs Fury – is like arguing whether a solid turd is better than a…not solid one. I mean, come on…

    My mom drove a ’72 LTD Country Squire wagon, 429 4-barrel, and I learned to drive in that car. Hated its wallowy handling, flat vinyl seats and excess overhangs. Its only redeeming qualities were good low end grunt, and the sound of that 4-barrel Motorcraft carb when the secondaries opened under full throttle, which of course I enhanced (and added 5 hp, dontchaknow!) by flipping the air cleaner lid upside down. It was a reliable car too as I recall, always starting in even the coldest of Nebraska winters.

    But what really made this car suck was that my dad bought an Atlantic blue BMW 530i new in ’75. Although he opted for the automatic tranny, that Beemer was a fucking revelation in handling, bank-vault Teutonic build quality and pure driving bliss. American cars of the same era weren’t even in the same “Galaxie.”

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I don’t know if everything from the 70’s was ugly – up through ’72 the bumpers could still be more of a “styling device” than something to protect the car, ’73 saw the front bumper regulation come into effect and then one year later in ’74 the rear bumpers followed suit – ’73/’74 is when things got REALLY ugly. I still think the 1970/’71 Torino “SportsRoof” is a very attractive car, especially with hidden headlights.

      As the ’70’s drew to a close, some of the manufacturers were getting better at integrating the bumpers into the design of the car – I’m sure I’ll get creamed for this, but I find the late ’70s Dodge Magnum (the last of the B-body platform that underpinned the Roadrunner/Super Bee/Charger/etc) with it’s glass covered headlamps and subtle muscular styling kind of attractive…if nothing else it was a high point amongst other cars from the end of that decade. Paul, any late ’70s Magnums in the can?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      hey hatetowait: re. 429 in the C.S. and a BMW, I expect the C.S. was loaded … so, did your mom’s ’72 country squire have the little flap in the trim capping the top of the 3-way tailgate just below the glass for the optional rear window washer? do you recall if that thing ever really worked?

  • avatar
    John Holt

    Wow, this one brings back the [bad] memories. The first car I remember growing up was my dad’s ’71 Custom (which I think had the theoretical six… a former company lease unit)… yellow with that same awful green interior. Of course that car was long gone before I was old enough to start liking cars. But thanks to Paul’s disdainful prose, I can rest assured I’m not missing anything in the driving experience.

    Seems my pa had a penchant for old crap Fords. A ’76 Granada (find one of those in Eugene please!), ’79 LTD Landau, and an ’88 Taurus L wagon followed. All awful cars that made his first Dodge (’86 Caravan) seem like a trophy.

    • 0 avatar
      donkensler

      I’ll second the request for a ’75-’76 Granada/Monarch. My dad had a ’75 Monarch, and it was so bad he unloaded it onto me after a year to buy a ’76 Dodge Aspen (talk about out of the frying pan…). In retrospect, I should have said no thanks and hung onto my ’66 Impala convertible, even with the 283 and the craptastic Powerglide.

      Acceleration, gas mileage, interior and trunk space, handling, suspension bottoming, that car was a complete package of awful. Had I not gone to work for the Blue Oval in ’78, that would have been the last Ford product I ever owned.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I have!

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Damn!
      I keep mistaking those Granadas for Mercedes!
      ;)

      Which Ford was advertised with the gem-cutter guy in the back seat cutting a diamond (because the ride was sooo smoooth)? “Perfect!” he exclaimed.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      srogers – the car with the diamond cutter in the backseat was a 72 Mercury Marquis.

      donkensler – My dad had a 76 Monarch Ghia. That car’s sole redeeming feature was that it had a 351, and it was FAST (in 1976).

    • 0 avatar
      donkensler

      jp cavanaugh – unfortunately my dad cheaped out and got the 302. That pig was SLOW!!

      srogers – thanks for bringing up that ad campaign.

      I’ll refrain from further comment on the Granada/Monarch until Paul posts some pics. Then I’ll really unload.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      What is it about these cars that evokes memories of the Granada/Monarch(/Versailles)? I admit, that I too had this car cross my mind when I read this article … also crossed my mind when I saw the white Maverick in the other posting (thinking that both Granada and Maverick were similarly extinct. Except for Jurassic Eugene I guess…) BTW, I remember a R/T or C/D, or M/T mag in high school with a pic of Lee Iacocca (in a plaid suit with big sideburns) on the cover with the Granada/Monarch twins with text like … “The Twins with the European Driving Flair”

    • 0 avatar
      John Holt

      @RW – you had to go open up the Maverick!! My first car… a ’77 coupe dubbed the “Polish Mercedes” (a gift *snicker* from my Polish grandfather). 250 straight six, white vinyl top over blue with tan… something… interior. Again, utter crap. Sold it for my first Subaru when it decided not to run when the temp dove below 35 degrees.

  • avatar
    AnthonyG

    Magnum Force – the second Dirty Harry film features a lot of these, several of the plain jane cop ones (Custom 500 4dr sedans)roaring about.

    Hal Holbrook, playing Harry’s corrupt boss, gets blown up in one at the end of the film.

    These cars also featured in Diamonds are Forever, The Streets of San Francisco, and a Burt Reynolds moonshine film, White Lightening.

    Ford’s product placement department really earned their pay in the late 1960s/eray 1970s!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Ah, you just reminded me … Look for the video of the Hal Holbrook character driving his mutilated Ford at the end of the video, just before it blows-up, and you will see the hood shimmy effect (a bit more drastic than in real life) that I refered to in my other post!

  • avatar
    creigs9

    I bought a 1970 Ford Custom in 1986 for 300.00 Dollars. This car was the best used car I ever owned. At the same time I owned a 1976 Fiat X1/9. The Ford drove me from Orange County to Torrance every day for 6 years. I was lucky if the Fiat would run for 3 months period. The Ford had a clean 302 that used no oil, and ran perfectly every day of the year. The exterior and interior were both blue. Every thing worked except the radio, though once and a while it worked as well. One thing great about this car was the amount of space in the passenger seat area. The wrap around dash board was also a nice touch. My Ford custom met a tragic end trying to enter the 405 south at Western Ave. A guy in an Olds Omega made a left through traffic, I never saw him, and I creamed him. Towed the Custom to storage for 6 months. Sold it to a friend of my dad, and he droped the motor and tranny into a 1950’s Mercury. After that I lost touch with with it. I would not be surprised if that powertrain is still working today.

  • avatar
    catbert430

    I was forced to drive the wagon version of this atrocity to deliver newspapers in the 70’s.

    The handling was so scary that I still have recurring nighmares about trying to keep it on the pavement on the curvy mountain roads of Pennsylvania.

    The first time I had to drive it on snow-covered roads was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in a car. I refused to ever drive it again. They replaced it with an Econoline E350 van that actually was a much more stable handing vehicle.

    I drove the competition at the time. My Dad had a 1970 Dodge Polara and Mom had a 69 Pontiac Catalina. I had no problem with either of those cars.

    Was their something drastically wrong with the 71 Country Sedan that my company owned or were they all like that pig?

    I’ll never know for sure but, that thing haunts my dreams as the worst death-trap in history. It put me off Fords for nearly 40 years.

  • avatar

    I for one love the Eugene shtick. That is definitely part of CC’s charm. And here you managed, probably for the first time in history, to get Eugene and Timonium into the same story! Not to mention Towson and Eugene. The only thing that would have been better is if you could have shoehorned Dingburg–that Zippy the Pinhead alter-ego of Baltimore for the uninitiated–into this story. All that, and the history-is-bunk/Bunkie-is-history juxtaposition. I definitely laughed my way through this one. I’d call Josh for a pizza, but I doubt he delivers east of the Cascades, let along the Berkshires.

    • 0 avatar
      BobJava

      Regarding the “Eugene shtick,” I agree. We can read about cars we can never afford, zipping through Italy, in any number of other publications. I don’t see how one can complain about a free publication, written by a pro bono writer.

      On this car, I was born too late to really *cough* appreciate it or much of it’s ilk. Those that were left by the mid-to-late 80s all had the same annoying seat rips and ALL had the same distinctive funk/mold smell, regardless of brand or ownership. It was amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      @BobJava; thanks. BTW, writers at TTAC are all getting paid (modestly) again.

  • avatar

    @srogers:

    The gem cutter did his work in the back seat of a Mercury Grand Marquis.

    Saturday Night Live concurrently ran a parody of the spot, in which a rabbi performed a circumcision under the same, er, circumstances.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    In this entire comment thread there was only one mention of the propensity of automatic-transmission Ford products of this vintage to shift themselves from Park to Reverse. There was quite a bit of commentary about this at the time. I remember seeing a video of a brave bystander jumping into the window of some T-bird or Elite that was circling in reverse in a parking lot, and bringing it to a halt. I remember one particular scenario that usually happened in open country; dude driving home from the tavern and stopping to relieve himself. He leaves it running, puts it in Park, gets out and stands behind the opened door to do his business, car (or pickup) shifts itself into Reverse, knocks down the driver with the door and runs over him with the left front wheel. This was a fairly serious problem, similar in scope to Toyota’s present difficulty, but I don’t remember that Ford did any huge recalls over it. I did drive a couple of different 70’s Ford cars and trucks, and remember that they had a really rubbery-feeling shift linkage on the column-shift automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      A man from my home town was killed by a Ford that backed up on its own, it was a cold day and was left warming up outside of a Hotel, it must have taken off with the high idle cam up because it ran over him before he had a chance to get out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      There was a NHTSA campaign on the self-reversing cars. It covered all big Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars with (I think) the C6 transmission. By the time they came to a settlement, it was maybe 1980 or 81, the problem was fixed, and there were a bazillion cars out on the road. The recall campaign involved a sticker to go on the dash saying basically “this car could jump into reverse, so shut it off”.

      And Paul, bet you never thought that you would get so many clicks and comments out of a 71 Ford!

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      JP, I’m almost never surprised anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      jp, you forgot the most important part of the sticker “Always engage parking brake.” Which nobody outside of San Francisco ever did. As I come to think of it, perhaps many people did … there has to be some explanation for that 10mpg economy characteristic.

      btw, i think Ford used the same stickers, with just different text for the Bronco II … “This cute little suv is tippy, and not like a car, be careful driving on hillsides, and in sharp steering inputs, and for God’s sake, wear your belt, or you’ll find your skull on the pavement!” (or something to that intent and purpose.)

      Oh, and the funny thing, is most people never put the sticker on the dash (in the C4/FMX issue) or on the sunvisor (in the Bronco II issue) it usually, if it made it to the car, it ended-up in the glove-box … of those that were affixed as requested, first summer the sticker shrank leaving a sticky halo around the perimeter, after about two summers, the stickers peeled-up and sought their freedom from the adhesive leaving a gooey mess on the dash…

    • 0 avatar
      zenith

      Never had a problem with Ford transmissions jumping out of PARK. Quite the opposite in cold weather– once took 2 hands to get the ’69 Custom 500 out of PARK on a below-zero morning. Had better luck if I engaged the parking brake before engaging PARK.

      The combination cruise control release/ brakelight switch was crappy. Had to replace on both cars that had cruise.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      @zenith: the cars that you replaced the switch on, were they like T-Birds, or LTD’s with all the lights in the centre? were they towing trailers? in the first case, there was a problem where these circuits had no relay, and the extra current thru the switch to all those lights in the middle melted the switch … towing a trailer w/o the trailer harness would accomplish the same thing…

  • avatar
    NickR

    Did these still come with 3-on-the-tree as an option? God I hated those things. Talking about taking all the joy of shifting manually. No wonder people drifted toward autos.

  • avatar
    FordDude

    Paul…I’m STILL waiting for the Ford Galaxie “7 Litre” special…

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I promise it’s coming. I found an awesome one on the street, almost couldn’t believe it. I have to ration my best ones out a bit, but it won’t be long.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    My best friend’s parents had a ’69 Galaxie 500 sedan, coke bottle green. I’ll leave it to him to describe its unique driving dynamics — I was always just a passenger, even when it became his hand-me-down in high school. What I do remember is that it had a lot more room than my parents’ 1969 Buick LeSabre, especially a trunk large enough for a hitman to store 3 stiffs. The ride was incredibly smooth and quiet, and I remember just about all the cops on TV drove them. It was also pretty reliable for many years, unlike the Buick which broke down all the time.

    In pop culture, the opening credits of “Police Woman” http://crackle.com/c/Police_Woman_minisode/null/2479312#id=2479311&ml=o%3D12%26fpl%3D261763%26fx%3D featured that exact same car, pulling up with tires smoking and the cops busting open the front window with a rifle butt. Also smoking, of course, was Angie Dickinson. Some of you remembered that black ’72 sedan that the Feds gave Burt Reynolds in “White Lightning” with a stick shift, and (probably) a 429. And Wheeljack – that ’72 Galaxie convertible was in “Magnum Force,” where Dirty Harry understood that a man’s got to know his limitations.

    The ’71-’72 doesn’t do it for me, but I do like the looks of the ’73-’74 Custom 500 and Galaxie 500, especially in green. The ’75-’78 models were unspeakably corpulent, kinda like some of the new BMWs.

  • avatar

    Paul,

    I think you gave the wrong phone number. The guy didn’t now what I was talking about. (COuldn’t resist) David

  • avatar
    blowfish

    These earlier Ford & Cryslur both used a higher ratio power steering, unlike GM which has Variable ratio by 71. The GMs steering were much more precise for its time.
    I used to go to a college in Toronto circa 78, there was a dude drove a 71 ish Olds 98 to deliver Pizza too, I can’t see that the car is too frugal on Benzene. I believe they’re 455.

    Back track to 75 I bought a 74 Olds 98 from Montreal, have the car delivered out by these driveaway company, they hire anybody with a license to drive your car. The co. charge u about $100, the guy pays a deposit, when the car arrives they get reimburse of the deposit.
    The poor dude drove the car out by mid May, somehow the heat was not working at all, felt sorry for him. Soon as I open the hood I saw one vacuum tube hanging loose I plugged her back in and the heat was working again.

  • avatar

    Seventies cars were awful. Sixties cars were almost as awful and I won’t even get to fifties cars. But in those days, were were used to awful cars. Everything was almost equally bad, although Fords were at the bottom of the heap. In my opinion, the only decent cars of the 1970s were the “downsized” GM B bodies. Those were a revelation compared to the junk we had foisted upon is before then. Would make a great CC because there are still a lot of them around.

    The Big 3 got away with selling crap because they had no real competition. When that changed, the Big 3 could not change with the times and well, the rest is tax payer funded history.

    We live in a era of very high quality cars. I had a Honda Accord for EIGHTEEN years and never spent a dime on it other than consumables. Since then I have bought two more and most of my family members drive Hondas, with equal success. And what has the Big 3 learned from this? Well, look at the Chevy Cruze for the proof.

  • avatar
    starbird80

    My father’s last car was a ’72 Galaxie. Slightly different rear bumper/taillights, but otherwise very similar to this ’71. Bought it off the lot, brown metallic with yellow tape pinstripes, black vinyl roof, 351. I think it was the only time he bought new without special-ordering. I remember the literature called the body style a “pillared hardtop” rather than a sedan – hardtops being so much more classy, but with some safety concerns for rollovers around that time.

    He traded his pride and joy, a late-60s Mercury, when we moved from Michigan to Kentucky and discovered that we really, really did need air conditioning – the reason he picked one off the lot. He never said anything in front of me (then 10 years old) but he must have been heartbroken. He’d always wanted a Mercury after getting one as a rental on a business trip, and finally got his own just a few years prior to the move.

    I don’t recall any reliability issues, but, again, I was only 10. Also why I’m having difficulty remembering the exact year and model of the Mercury. I do know the preceding car was a ’64 Galaxie.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      the ’72’s had a very tall bumper that IIRC went all the way up to the trunk lid and the lights were entirely contained with in it (rather than being above it as on the ’71).

    • 0 avatar
      starbird80

      You’re right about the rear bumper. The taillights were pretty distinctive, too. LTDs got a red reflector strip across the center section of the bumper as well – an easy tell from a distance.

      A quick Google image search confirms something I wasn’t sure about – the grille was cosmetically different (simpler, and IMO better looking) for ’72 also.

      If I ever get around to making an avatar for this site, I’m thinking the ’72 Galaxie taillight might do nicely, actually.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    kinda like having a bucket of cold pig piss tossed in my face

    Please tell me this is some sort of regional quip. Please.

    I still think it is a better looking car than the 71 Impala/Caprice (and the 71 Fury wasn’t even in the same ballpark).

    I wholeheartedly agree. Not until the ’77 Chevys did the Impala beat Ford in the looks department.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      We were in high school, waiting for the last bell of the day … we were gazing out the window of our English Literature class and watching the Sp-Ed mini-bus leave (they had an earlier end to the day) … there, ahead of the bus, we spied a new ’77 Chevy 4-dr in medium metallic blue … looked very nice … suddenly, the Chevy stopped short and the bus didn’t … waacko … perhaps the first of the new models to be rear-ended in the whole world … the bus backed-up … the Chevy didn’t move forward … the drivers got out and looked at the car … the bell rang … we ran down to see what had happened, because from our perspective (directly from the rear of the car) nothing seemed to be amiss … what we saw from the side was another story … this tender impact from the bus had managed to pivot the whole rear trunk area downward and crush it against the tires and jam the rear doors! Cool! we said to ourselves, we’ve just seen probably the first total of the new models in the whole world!

      After the ’79 Ford launched, my buddy busied himself in American Civics class with looking out the window at the Interstate and keeping a tally of down-sized Chevy’s vs. down-sized Fords …

  • avatar
    majo8

    Here’s one good point, IMO, about these cars — my brother had a 71 2-door with the 429, bucket seats, and the console with the inverted “u” shifter, and it had two ashtrays for the front passengers — one in lower left portion of the dash that canted towards the driver, and one next to the glove box. True luxury…….

    It also stalled when making a right turn from a stop, and got 10 mpg.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Well, I had to register because my family owned the LTD Broughm pillarless hardtop version of this car for 30 years. I was five years old when my dad test-drove various cars in August 1970 (I rode along of course, sans child seat), and I vividly remember when we picked up our ordered car the day after Thanksgiving with my grandfather (who bought it for my dad). It was white with white vinyl top, and a blue fabric interior, which OF COURSE (this being the 70s) my dad immediately ordered the clear bubbly Fingerhut seat covers for (think we went through 2 or 3 sets of those as I grew up).

    It was our only car for eleven years, until we bought a super-crappy ’77 Impala with the soft-cammed 305 and the THM 200 Chevette tranny (tranny lasted until 40K and was rebuilt, cam went at around 100K when a rebuilt THM350 tranny was also installed, whole ‘nuther story there!).

    I was outside in the dark with my dad countless times as I grew up, watching him install the new points, rotor, and condensor which we usually bought in that blister pack for $5-7 at the local Valu-Mart, still remember it took Champion RBL-13Y plugs, Fram CA324 air and PH8A oil filters! And it being a Ford, it didn’t have the little window on the distributor like all GM products so you could adjust the point dwell while the engine was running. Dad (and later I) got really good at popping that distributor cap on and off quickly, thank God it was at the front of the engine!

    I started doing the repair work on the LTD in high school and then took it cross-country to college in 1984. It was the first year for the 400-2V engine, which had a horrible pinging problem due to head chamber design, it only had 9:1 compression for cripe’s sake. In 1986 I transplanted a 429-4V drivetrain in from a ’71 Galaxie station wagon, and then started upgrading from there. My goal was to make it drive and handle like the police versions did, and I accomplished that goal.

    Put a Holley Pro-Jection 2V throttle-body on it, Duraspark II ignition, upgraded springs/shocks all around, and the big gain in handling was from a ’79 T-Bird steering box and front sway bar (was 1 1/8″ diam IIRC instead of the stock 5/8″). Completed the package with some Mopar 15×7 police-car wheels (same bolt pattern, yeah!) and some 225/60R15 Goodyear Eagles. Man was the steering tight after that. The original wheels were only 5.5″ wide and I remember my dad putting JR78-15 tires on them!!!

    In stock form, yes, the handling was scary at anything over 75 mph, I remember going 90 in it as a kid and didn’t want to go any faster. After I was done with it, 120 was steady as a rock and it was still accelerating (didn’t push it much past that, boats aren’t meant to fly and I’ve seen too many hydros blow over!). It had no understeer when I was done, and the throttle-induced oversteer was just plain scary (actually contributed to me clipping the back of a dial-a-ride van, another store there . . .)

    During the 1980s I scoured my favorite junkyards and obtained all of the factory-available options that my dad DIDN’T order: Split bench front seat, limited-slip axle, heated rear window (think this was the first year available which probably explains why my dad didn’t know about it), and the super-cool factory delay wipers (the design that Ford stole from the inventor as outlined in the movie Flash of Genius). All the while muttering to myself “why why WHY Dad didn’t you order these originally?” I bet the limited slip option was all of $17 in 1970!

    Oh, for those of you that have read this far, I know exactly why these cars had a propensity to pop into reverse (our 1969 Ford F150 would do the same thing, for the same reason). It was due to the design of the shifter detents in the pot-metal cast parts in the steering column. The transmission had its own gear detent mechanism in it, but the steering column did as well (to require that the shift lever had to be pulled back towards the driver to go from park into neutral, neutral into reverse, and so on).

    If the shift linkage wasn’t adjusted properly you could end up having a situation where the transmission would be fully in “park” but the column shifter was not quite in the park position–you could force the shift lever over, which resulted in a lot of tension built up in the shifter linkage.

    The only thing holding this tension was a square step detent in the pot-metal shifter collar in the column. If you didn’t religiously pull the shift lever towards the driver fully (and who did, seriously) when you were shifting in and out of park, it wore the square corner off of this step (pot-metal isn’t very durable, dontyaknow), further increading the likelihood that the transmission would “pop” into reverse.

    Another situation which resulted in the same issue as described above (but was not related to shift linkage misadjustment) and was much more likely to happen, occurred when the vehicle was driven up against a parking bumper or curb, and the parking pawl inside the transmission didn’t exactly line up with one of the slots in the rotating assembly–this would keep the shifter from fully going into the ‘park’ position. Again, people would force the shifter, binding up the linkage and putting a lot of stress on that pot-metal shoulder in the column. I remember this happening all the time with our 1969 Ford pickup, and you had to roll the vehicle back from the curb a bit to get the parking pawl to line up and it was fine.

    During one of the visits to the dealer’s service department during the mid-1970s, they did put a warning sticker on the left end of the dash stating not to leave the vehicle unoccupied if it was running under any circumstances.

    As far as reliability goes, I can’t say it was any better or any worse than any other car of the 1970s. We kept the Galaxie wagon with the original drivetrain in it for another ten years after doing the drivetrain swap, and the original 400 engine was still running great with 220K miles on it w/o anything more than a replacement timing chain and normal maintenance. Granted it was getting tired, the trans took a few moments to go into drive when it was cold out.

  • avatar

    My father had a 1970 Fairlane 500 station wagon with a 302 and 3 speed manual transmission that he kept for 11 1/2 years and about 250,000 miles. So my family had good experiences with Fords of that era.

  • avatar
    aamj50

    Here’s a pizza delivery vechile for you:
    http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/ss186/aamj50/pbcrop.jpg

    Won’t hold quite as many pies as the Galaxie but I got 52mpg with it the last two summers.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      In Monacco, just like in Japan, the delivery guys use souped-up mopeds or motorrollers… (nice bike by the way. just make sure that if it comes down to cold pizza or you, that the pizza loses!)

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    This website/blog needs to get back on track.

  • avatar
    Joel

    @Robert.Walter
    Here in Oregon, we actually have very little vehicle inspection laws. We get checked for emissions….and that’s about it. No inspection stickers requiring updating every other year or so. Also, since Paul lives in the land of salt free winters, the variability of cars here is only as large as people can afford to keep POSs like this one still around.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Paul’s article has inspired some really great stories. Is there any way posters can upload pictures of their former rides to accompany the comments?

    I would love to see pictures, if they exist, redmondjp’s LTD Brougham with all the cop parts.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    bomberpete,

    The few pictures I do have don’t really show much. The vehicle looked completely stock, although the 15″ rims with the 60-series tires looked tiny in the wheelwells. I even pounded the stock LTD wheel covers onto the mopar rims. It was a real sleeper.

    Under the hood I had a dual cold-air ram intake setup that I cobbled together from various mid-70s fomoco products. Stock air cleaner housing had two snorkels on it, fed by the flexible rectangular ducting up to the blow-molded plastic air intakes that took air from the far outside edges of the grille behind the headlights. The auxiliary snorkel on the driver’s side had the vacuum door such that it was shut under normal operation, but opened under full-throttle conditions–that way the stock warm-air intake on the right side still functioned during cold weather.

    OK, one “ford vs. chevy” story. One day I left work early for a doctor’s appointment. Was on a 4-lane bypass highway around our small town with several stoplights on it and little traffic in the early afternoon. Saw a late 60s Chevy sedan in the other lane at one light–wait, did that say “427” or “327” on the fender? At the next light, we were side-by-side at the front of the line–damn, that’s a 427 chevy sedan (a sleeper just like mine)! OK, this was it–had to show him what my LTD could do. Light turned green, I pulled ahead of him, he quickly got into the pedal, and I had to limit the throttle on mine because even with the 2.75 gears in back it tended to break traction off the line. Once I was past 20 mph it was all the way to the floor. At this point he was about half a car length ahead of me, but I kept up with him the whole time all the way past 70-80mph and then we had to stop for the next light. I could tell he had his foot deep into it by the amount of carbon blowing out his exhaust, with a big puff of smoke when the turbo 400 shifted into third.

    So I didn’t win outright, but I bet I really surprised him! I had the stock cam in the high-compression 429 which is basically an RV/low-end torque cam, and the 2-barrel fuel injection unit had fantastic low-end response which flattened out at higher speeds. So with a few minor changes (stickier tires, slightly lower gearing, different cam) I probably would have beat him, but I set it up for decent mpgs at highway cruising which it did (could get 18-19 at 60-65mph, mileage dropped off of course with increasing speed).

    But like all good things in life, the time came and went for that car. Had to use premium fuel with lead additive to get the power out of it. Yes, you could retard the ignition timing but then it was no fun to drive, so I kept it cranked up and added the juice every time I filled up. After clipping the dial-a-ride van, LF corner was mashed in (still driveable), and then teen-aged girl rear-ended it while parked in front of my house, totalling her dad’s camry and doing a number on LR corner (used the spare tire jack to push the back of the trunk out so the latch would work again, and took my soldering iron and melted the red plastic pieces of the taillight back together).

    It was hideous looking in the end, with the LF and LR corners mashed in, but while merging onto the freeway it parted traffic like Moses parting the Red Sea! The cops stuck to it like glue however, as I live in a snobby area and any car over ten years old is suspect and gets profiled. Anybody driving a 30-year-old mashed-in LTD is obviously a homeless serial killer child-molesting terrorist, right?! I made darn sure that every single marker bulb was lit and everything was legal on it because of that. But it gets real old getting hassled (tailgated, followed all the way home, and so on) by the cops every time one sees you, especially when you are doing absolutely nothing wrong.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    My dad had a ’68, same pea green color, with a 302, which he said was dog slow.

    My only memory of that car was being rear-ended by a tractor-trailer that lost its brakes; Mom was driving and fortunately, I was in the front seat as a 9-year-old. It knocked us into next week, but our injuries were limited to sprained necks.

    Dad still had the car fixed and traded it 2 years later; I think he became bored with it.

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    Do our current safety regs keep automakers from making such wonderful, sexy grilles like that of the Galaxie/LTD from this year?

  • avatar
    big_gms

    Wow! The only other time I’ve seen automotive hatred like this was reading Car and Driver’s test of a ’68 Opel. Personally, I always thought the big Fords of this era were actually nice looking cars, except for that grille. Not as nice looking as the GM cars of this era, though.

    In 1982 or ’83, my dad bought a 1972 Ford LTD for $25. I don’t recall why it was so cheap; I was only 8 or 9 at the time. I do remember that it was green on green, exactly like this one, and it was actually in decent shape except for the bottoms of the doors just starting to rust out. I only got one ride in that car the day he bought it. Less than 24 hours later, it was totalled. He was completely stopped at an intersection and was rear ended by someone going 25 MPH. Ironically, he was on his way to the DMV to take care of tax, title and registration. After that, it was back to the slowly dying 1970 Buick LeSabre and then to a 1974 Chevy Impala, which rusted out more than any Ford I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar

    I guess this car has one redeeming attribute: you can put it through the slings and arrows of pizza delivery without shedding a tear.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Paul, you think the big fords handled badly? Have you ever driven a 71-76 olds 98 or buick electra?

  • avatar
    ry

    I really liked the styling of the 71/72 Ford. I think those soft suspensions were great. My 84 Lincoln Town Car had an awesome ride, and Ford Motors liked to give customers a nice ride in their big cars.

    My dad had a 70 Ford Custom (not Custom 500) with a 240ci. What a horrible combination. It required premium fuel because it would knock while not delivering any power. Dad placed an extra head gasket into the engine to reduce the compression ratio so he could buy regular gas. Yes the power went from low to nonexistant.

  • avatar
    crayon

    Eugene must be where old POS cars go to die…

    My father had one of these Galaxies. It was a 2-door and painted in a really strange brownish-green color. Almost looked like it was an Army vehicle. It was a company car and had been run into a pole before he got it. The repair work was really bad; the front bumper had been fitted inside the drivers side fender rather than wrapping around.

    One day we were getting on to the highway, I-635 around Dallas. The speed limit then was 70 and the normal cruising speed was about 85. He floored it to get on ahead of a car in the right lane and the “mighty” 351 did it’s best, which wasn’t much.
    Well, he decided that he wasn’t going to make it and lifted off the gas. But the car decided to replicate a future Toyota and kept on accelerating. The gas pedal was stuck.
    He attempted to shift to neutral and ended up shifting to reverse. The stupid car actually shifted into reverse at full throttle and about 60 mph and we created the biggest cloud of tire smoke I have ever seen. He managed to kill the engine and get off the road. My mom and sister were crying. He was just kind of sitting there, and I could only sit there and go “WOW!”.
    After everybody calmed down he started the car, put it in “D” and we went on our way. The car ran perfectly. He had that car for 2 more years and I can’t remember anything ever going wrong with it. It just flat didn’t care what you did, just kept on running.

  • avatar
    Buyford

    I am 53 and decided last Sept that i wanted a convertible, as i have always wanted 1. I either wanted a 65 Ford Galaxie, 71 LTD, or a 68 Mercury. The Mercury was cobbled up and huge, the Galaxie wouldnt start, Took the LTD out for a spin, i couldnt believe how huge it was. It was ok but huge and kinda had a spungy ride to it. It burnt oil(blue smoke) and was strating to rust out with the rockers betwen the door and the rear tires. The guy tried to sell me on it, like he said he had $15000 invested in it but i couldnt see where, so i passed and ended up buying a ’91 White Mustang Convertible 5.0 H.0. mint with no rust and only 70,000 on it(4 hrs from me), i am glad i waited cuz it was a great deal at $6,000 cert, the other 3 wanted $6,000 too. Its funny, when i was growing up with these BIG cars, they didnt seem so big and i loved them and wanted to own 1, now that i am older, how your tasts sometimes change but i still loved them but wouldnt want 1.
    Bill


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