By on August 12, 2010

[Update: My left hemisphere really predominated when I wrote this piece. Please don't get the wrong idea: I was totally thrilled to find this well-kept 7-Litre sitting on the street in a neighborhood (South University) where it's been a family heirloom for decades; possibly forever (according to a relative who came out). It's an awesome representative of a class of car that is hard to find anymore, and my critical comments are designed to help those inexperienced with them to put it into context. The 7-Litre rocks!]

The sixties, that golden decade of American performance cars, had two very distinct eras. The first half was dominated by the full size bombers with their ever-larger big block V8s sporting dual quad or triple deuce carbs. Think Impala 348/409, the wild cross-ram Chrysler 413 and wedge 426, Pontiac’s 421 HO, and Ford’s specialized 406/427, which powered the Blue Oval to enduring glory, even at LeMans.  These over-sized sleds were the terror of the drag strips, NASCAR, and Main Street on Saturday night, duking it out for the glory of their respective makers, with the hope of more sales on Monday morning.

But with the arrival of the mid-size GTO and the compact Mustang in 1964, the full sized performance cars became doomed dinosaurs almost overnight. Yes, the big hairy engines were still available in them (for a price), but why bother when a dirt-cheap 327 Chevy II had a better power-to-weight ratio? So the Big Three tried something else to prop up sales of the profitable mega-sized rods, like this 7 Litre Galaxie. In the case of the Ford at least, the tip-off is the affected spelling of Liter.

The space where Ford’s “427” badges once sat proudly on the front fenders of Galaxies is now blank sheet metal, replaced by the prominent “7 Litre” badges on the grill and the fender spear. That’s because a 428 has taken its place. So what’s a measly cubic inch among friends? (three, strictly speaking, since the 427 actually displaced 425 CI). Whereas the 406 and 427 were specially developed racing motors, with unique blocks, cross-bolted mains, and other forged performance goodies, the new for ’66 428 was just a bored and stroked 390 in mild tune, shared with the T-Bird, and available across the board. It was rated at a modest 345 (gross) hp, compared to the 410 (single quad) and 425 hp (dual quads) that the 427 belted out at much higher revs thanks to a woolly cam, solid lifters and heads that hyperventilated.

Since the NASCAR racers switched to mid-sized cars in ’66, the Fairlane was now the primary beneficiary of the 427, and although a very wicked machine indeed, it never sold in any significant numbers compared to the Chrysler and GM intermediate muscle cars. It was too expensive, and lacked low-speed torque and tractability on the street. The 428 meanwhile was cheap and expedient. And it was perfectly happy (happiest?) schlepping a fully-loaded Country Squire with an automatic, A/C and power steering. The 427, which one could still order in 1966, was not available with the automatic, power steering, A/C and even the power assist for the disc brakes. Woolly indeed!

Well, those macho days were over, except for the exactly thirty-eight buyers that insisted on a genuine 427 in their 1966 7 Litre. One hopes that Ford checked their arm and leg muscles before they turned over the keys to them. That’s not to say that the 428 powered 7 Litres were a smash sales success by any means either: barely 11k sold that year. By 1967, it was just a trim/engine package available on the Galaxie XL, rather than a distinct model. And by 1969, it was history (as was the very short-lived 428, replaced by the all-new “385” 429 engine).

It was all a bit confusing for me as a kid, especially since in the mid-sixties Ford made distinct V8s in 427, 428, 429 and 430 cubic inch sizes. It must have been Ford’s way of trying to keep up with GM, whose divisions still proudly flaunted unique engines (mostly). Admittedly, the 427 was in the same FE engine family as the 428 and 390, and looked similar from the outside. The 430 was the old MEL engine, and the new 429 replaced them all.  But not before Ford heavily revised the 428 for its final two-year outing in ’68 and ’69 as the Cobra Jet, sporting a low-balled 335 hp rating for insurance purposes.

The 7-Litre wasn’t the only car that had its 427 replaced by the 428. The legendary Shelby Cobra 427 started out with a full-on side-oiler 427, but because the whole 427 Cobra program was a financial disaster, many of them actually were built with the much cheaper 428. And, no, they weren’t rebadged “7-Litre” or “428″. Shelby wasn’t/isn’t exactly famous for a propensity towards full disclosure.

Hemmings has a write-up on the 7-Litre here, and a more detailed comparison of the two engines here, but here’s a few highlights: the mildly tuned 428 developed its maximum power at a diesel-like 4600 rpm. And its healthy 462 lb.ft. of torque was all there by 2800 rpm. Whether it even made its rated horse power is suspect: John Smith, author of Super ’60s Fords: “The carb is way too small, they are severely under-cammed, and the exhaust system is incredibly restrictive. Even though they were rated by the factory at 345hp, I’d be very surprised if the actual output was more than 275hp.”

So how does a 7-Litre run? About 8.8 seconds to sixty, and 15.2 in the quarter. Modest for the times, and econo-box stats nowdays. The big Ford was a cruiser; but not a performance car. All of GM’s bigh blocks of the times had higher power ratings, and could back them up. You wouldn’t want to goad a big Buick, Olds or Pontiac with your 7-Litre, never mind a 427 powered Impala.

Enough of my ragging on Ford’s FE engines. They made great truck motors, having spent parts of my youth trying to kill more than one in some pretty large trucks. It’s just that they were outclassed by the deeper-breathing Mopars and Chevy, in the streetable versions anyway. But what about the rest of this beefy Galaxie 500?

Well, I happen to have a November 1965 Popular Science from my subscription as a kid in front of me, which has a comparison test of the ’66 Galaxie, Impala and Fury III by Jan Norbye. He refused to pick an overall winner, and in fact, said that he would prefer an intermediate sized car if he was buying. The vagueness of the power steering, the soft handling and touchy power brakes was an issue with all of them. But he had a particular dislike of the Galaxie’s front end: ” Ford’s front suspension will not let the car stay on its intended line on a fast turn or if the road is bumpy. The steering angles change too much on spring deflection; incessant steering corrections are needed to keep the car on its line”. But, yes, the Ford was the quietest if the bunch, reflecting the priorities of the times.

The PS tester had the 315hp 390, and it pulled a 9.2 in the 0-60 and trundled through the quarter mile in eighteen seconds. The 396 Impala handily creamed it; and in the transmission department, the Ford Cruis-O-Matic came in last too, especially against the new Turbo-Hydramatic. Contrary to all the myth about Chryslers handling better back then, the Fury’s newly-softened suspension for ’66 actually tended towards oversteer (!), and the Chevy was deemed the best handling of the bunch. Brakes? At least Ford and Plymouth offered discs on the front, which were standard on the 7-Litre.

Here is Norbye’s take on the marshmallow handling and numb power steering of the times: “I like to get an indication of the forces acting on the car through the controls, and I’m not satisfied with the “dead” feel of all of these cars’ systems. The engineering problems of making power steering with proportional assist (Mercedes, etc.) were licked long ago, but the industry seems to have forgotten. When reminded, they talk lamely about some ladies’ complaints about hard steering…The automakers mistrust you, underestimate you, and give you their idea of a fool-proof car. But control systems that are more alive would put the driver in better command – and make him a safer driver” Norbye actually recommended buying these cars with manual steering and unassisted brakes “if you’re slightly fanatical about your driving”.

Styling? I was not a big fan of Ford’s attempt to ape the ’63 Pontiac with their re-styled 1965/1966 cars. But there’s an undeniable husky charm about this particular big coupe. Its angularity is quite a contrast to GM’s coke-bottle curvaceousness, but that actually seems to work in the 7-Litre’s favor. By 1967, Ford was (again) chasing GM’s softer lines, and any pretense of true performance, even appearance wise, just wasn’t coming through. It was the era of the LTD; big performance cars were finished. So as a visual testament to the end of that era, this big Ford carries it off quite well. And your neighbors were quite unlikely to know the difference between a 427 and a 428. And more likely to be impressed with the euro spelling of Litre.

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66 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 7-Litre...”


  • avatar
    craiggbear

    Uh, “litre” is a correct spelling for the word – in everywhere but the US. Perhaps they were injecting a little euro “flavour” as well. It’s how we buy our “petrol” and beer and wine and, well, you get the picture.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Well, my Germanic-language roots are obviously showing, because it’s “liter” in German too.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I tend to vary the spelling of words such as litre, color, behavior and many of the other words that can contain a (u) depending on my mood. Sometimes they can change within the same paragraph.

      Also, this is back to the Galaxy. Can somebody explain where the term “Laxative 500″ came from? My mom uses it all the time. I don’t know if it was in wide use at the time, as I’m still young, or if it was just my mom’s term.

    • 0 avatar
      EChid

      Its “litre” up here in Canada too. Although, frequently we end up in no mans land between US and Euro spellings (properly, we are Euro). So most people just end up accepting both.

      Except colour, it’s an unforgivable sin not to spell that with a “u”

      And neighbour…

      But I digress, back to cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Paul was correct that using ‘litre’ is a phony affectation because this car was being marketed in the US.
      Recognize.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Or “gage” and not “gauge”. Pet peeve.

  • avatar
    ott

    Seriously? Just 2 Curbside Classic Clue guesses? I guess not everyone is aware that the CC has returned…

  • avatar
    86er

    Despite all the shortcomings listed here in encyclopaedic detail, I still love these cars.

    These cars are for when you absolutely, positively have to make it from San Francisco to New York in under 24 hours, and then get out feeling more refreshed than when you left.

    I kid (a little).

  • avatar
    npbheights

    Those seats look quite comfortable for their time

  • avatar
    jrlombard

    I was never a huge fan of the ’66 in particular, but I’m going to look at a P-code ’64 Galaxie (w/ the 390) early next week….it’s a four door, but single owner with factory A/C. It’s in beautiful shape…we’ll see how serious the guy is about selling it.

    I loves me some Galaxie’s.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Thank you Paul. That is a beautiful car in very nice condition.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      BTW, this car has been in its family since new, and spends much  of its time at the curb, where I found it.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      It’s sooo beautiful to me. There used to be a white ’65 that went down my street, but I haven’t seen this summer. When ever it glided by, it would make me stop whatever I was doing (yardwork) and watch it like I was hypnotized. The sound was wonderful.

  • avatar
    jj99

    One of my friends has a 67 Fairlane GT with a 390 and a 4 speed. Beautiful classic.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Great job, Paul.

    Many years ago I remember reading a car book in the library where the great GP driver Jim Clark (still alive when the book was published) owned a ’66 vintage Galaxie or LTD imported to the UK.

    He said something like “when I’m off the track, I want the car to do some of the driving for me.”

    And nothing before or since has done the driving for you like a big American Ford.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    ….one more thing. I certainly remember the measurement as being spelled “liter” in water displacement, etc. but I don’t remember it ever being applied to cars. My family’s ’78 Buick Century aeroback had a “3.8 litre” badge spelled on its fender. Of course that was the era when we were supposed to implement the metric system!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    That’s a beautiful car.

    It may have econobox performance, but it’ll draw a lot more crowds at a car cruise than any Ford Focus will.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Useless knowledge unless you’re a linguist: American-English (known as General American) is a rhotic language, meaning that the “r” sound is pronounced. In Received Pronunciation, which is what most other English-speaking counties use, the “r” sound is phonetically replaced with the schwa /ə/. Us crazy Americans pronounce the “r” at the end of words like liter.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Paul:

    There was a used car lot at one time on the northwest corner of Burke Avenue and York Road in Towson, MD. I saw my first 7 Litre Galaxie sitting there, for sale, in ’68 or ’69. It was a beautiful shade of dark green (highland?) that was popular with Ford in the late ’60′s. I assumed at the time it was a 427 powered car until I learned later that most were 428′s.

    I was very impressed with that car and admired it. I have owned a couple of late ’60′s rat powered Impalas but I still have a soft spot for that Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyp429

      I’ve inherited my grandfather’s pride and joy car. A 1969 Ford LTD 429 big block, that he bought off the showroom floor in Memphis the 1st day a dealer got one in Memphis. It’s red with a factory black top, 4dr, ALL original exterior and interior parts, including original working A/C.

      It hasn’t been driven on a regular basis in at least 10 plus years, however, my WWII veteran grandfather would drive it from his barn up to the house and wash it a couple times a week, then pull out on his country road and make it come close to taking flight as he would say. He loved to watch the cows, horses and hawks take off when they heard him coming.

      It’s been 2yrs since he passed and I decided to sell it do to my demanding business travels.

      If you’re interested, reply back and we’ll discuss details. 

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Gorgeous!

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Absolutely gorgeous! Look at this cruiser and compare it to all the jellybeans of today. Winner, hands down.

    PS: I wonder what he fills it up on. This still needed leaded gas, didn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      That leaded gas thing about lubricating the valve seats was a myth invented by the Ethyl Corporation. BP Ultimate will do just fine. Yes, BP.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      The question I’m curious about is how often he needs to fill it. With a 7 litre would it be rated in gallons per mile?

      All kidding aside I like it. I’m nowhere near old enough to have known this as a new car, but it is quite the looker.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    I remember them well. I liked the styling but the 390 was a truck engine. Back then I had a 68 roadrunner with the basic 383 that was no match for the 390′s in our stoplight wars on route 130 in south Jersey. The mopar would rev and scream its way past the galaxie 390′s and 428′s. At the time I couldnt understand how a “small” 383 could stomp a 428. I still preferred it to my 69 GTX with a 440. The interior was nicer than my bare bones roadrunner interior. Hopefully he installed hardened valve seats with no lead to lube them these days.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    I, for one, am glad to see you back Paul. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed TTAC over the summer, but something was missing without CCs. I love older cars and I love history. Having been born in ’66, I don’t really remember the original muscle car era and wasn’t really aware of different makes and models of cars until I was 7 or 8, just in time for the first oil embargo of ’73/74 and the end of the muscle car era. Ever since then, I’ve walked around feeling like I missed the party.

    When I was 17 in 1983, during the summer before my senior year in high school, I bought a ’71 Ford Custom 500 for…$500, of course. It had a 351W, 2 bbl, and single exhaust. It was solid white – looked like a cop car. Not exactly muscle car material, but the closest thing that I could get to a muscle car while in high school and a distant cousin of the big block Fords. It was a 12 year old POS at the time, but it ran. Over the 5 1/2 years that I owned it, it needed brakes, tires, replacing the breaker point distributor with solid state, a fuel pump, plugs, filters, and fluid changes. I kept it through college and got rid of it a week before graduation in late 1988. It ran on any fuel including regular (with lead), regular unleaded, Cox model airplane fuel, wine, and any combination above. Perfect car for inner city Atlanta.

  • avatar
    plyrr72

    Paul,

    Is it right to say to that no matter what the make, the full size and intermediate cars of the late 60s just seemed to have all the right curves in all the right places… whether it was the Galaxie, the Fairlane, the Fury or Belvedere, the Chevelle et al. They all just looked RIGHT – even the poorest of examples. The cars of today look over-styled by comparison…

    Is it me or am I halucinating?

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I tend to agree. The older cars I see look a thousand times better than many that I see now. I think the midsize on up, of today, tend to look better than the small cars. Many of those just hurt to look at. I wouldn’t be caught dead in the Toyota Echo for example.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Ford should throw the 6.2L into the MKS AWD just for old time’s sake.
    ____
    Sweet car though, even if it wasn’t a drag king.

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    Now that brings back some memories. A buddy had one of these, red on red. It was comfy and looked good, but my dead stock $300.00 ’65 Impala with a tired 325 horse 396 would easily take it every time.
    That said, a shiny red Ford looked a lot better to the girls than a dusty, faded metallic pinkish purple (!) Impala, so the Ford usually got the nod for cruising. Both cars eventually got harvested for thier engines and transmissions, back around 1981. Ah to be 18 again…
    I dont even want to think about what either car in restored condition would fetch today. They were crude, but they sure were fun!

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Pontiac 2+2:

    ..Car and Driver tested a Catalina 2+2 and recorded a top speed of over 130 mph and a 0-60 time of just 3.9 seconds.

    http://www.musclecarclub.com/musclecars/pontiac-catalina/pontiac-catalina-history.shtml

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      To paraphrase Junior Johnson, that particular Catalina had “the big motor”.
      Despite what people think they remember,(Hemis etc.} Pontiac and Chevrolet dominated the stock classes in the quarter mile.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      I think even quoting Jr. as saying “the big motor” is understating it a little. Those engines, those 421s and especially the 428 H.O. were pure monsters. I experienced the latter in a 1969 Grand Prix SJ, used, when I was 20. I am lucky to have torn it up and gotten rid of it in 6 months and lived to tell about it. (Had 83000 on it and had been ‘babied’, I was told. I did not ‘baby’ it.) It wasn’t my fault it had a 3.55 limited-slip and 390 HP and just invited that kind of abuse! Topped out at 110, but got there reeeeallly fast, but only once. Wasn’t the same after the water pump went out. Geez, that thing was a beauty and a beast at the same time. Not real reliable, but 2 tons of fun while it lasted. My 1973 Monte Carlo was much more refined. (CC?)

    • 0 avatar
      bugo

      “..Car and Driver tested a Catalina 2+2 and recorded a top speed of over 130 mph and a 0-60 time of just 3.9 seconds.”

      Ringer?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    “…Contrary to all the myth about Chryslers handling better back then…”

    I don’t think that “myth” is appropriate. The full sized cars had subframes which helped keep the weight down. If you chose the base engine, weight distribution was nearly 50/50 so they did handle pretty damn well. My Fury with the base LA engine weighed just a tick under 4000 lbs; pretty impressive when competing manufacturers’ products were 600 lbs heavier, or more. It responded nicely to upgrades like stiffer torsion bars, urethane bushings and the like.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      The weights of the three 1966 cars in the Pop Science test were as follows (all similarly equipped): Impala: 3,985 lbs; Galaxie: 4,040 lbs; Fury II: 4,070 lbs.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      It’s all those damn airbags and rollover protection and side impact standards that did it! Yeah!

      Seriously – in case you haven’t seen it, Paul, google books has every popsci and popmech. Ever. I’m addicted – you could write a column just on the career advancement ads.

  • avatar
    ez3276

    My 1965 Pontiac GTO had 6.5 Litre badges on it.

  • avatar
    I Miss Manzy

    I always loved the big Fords,and that one’s a beauty!A sad 7-Litre story to relate;Years ago on Long Island,I ran a small towing company.To keep busy,I would tow junk cars(anything for a buck!).I got a call from a landlord,asking if I could tow off a couple of junkers from a recently vacated property.I drove over and met the man.We walked into the back yard to find a 1963 Chevy Biscayne 4-door and a 1966 7-Liter 4-speed Air-Conditioned CONVERTIBLE!!! The 428 was gone and it had been parked under some oak trees with the top down for God only knows how long.It once had been Midnight Blue with a White top and interior.No paperwork,seats eaten by varmints and rust up to the belt line meant it had to go to the crusher,but not before I took the Top-Loader,emblems and anything else of value.I never see one of these that I don’t think of that car!

  • avatar
    majorfrn

    Wow! I sure was surprised to see this. We have, sitting in our garage, a canary yellow with black interior 7 litre. It was purchased new by my wife’s dad. Hasn’t run in about 8 years. But it ran fine when parked, I’m told. And it is in pretty good shape.

    I’m torn about whether or not to get it running again. It does look wonderfully cool, even if the 428 is nothing to get too excited about…

  • avatar

    I’m not surprised that Norbye had a problem with the handling of the 66 Plymouth Fury-he and his partner Jim Dunne were notoriously anti-Pentastar in their tests.

    Their comparisons used to infuriate me when I was a kid-especially one in particular when they tested the 69 Mustang,Camaro and Barracuda.

    The Cuda best the other 2 in EVERY test they did-from handling,braking and acceleration to out and out top end.It even won in every measure of interior space.

    But in the end they picked the Camaro as “best” overall because they hated the outdated, tall and ungainly look of the Plymouth.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Another trip down memory lane. I spent a lot of time in 66 and 67 Fords. My dad had a white 66 Country Squire, and my Uncle Mervin had a navy 66 Galaxie 500 2 door hardtop. One of my scoutmasters drove us all over creation in a red 67 Country Sedan wagon, and my first car was a light green 67 Galaxie 500 convertible. So I know these cars well.

    They really were quieter than anything else built at the time, certainly for the money. Agreed, the old FE block was no performance engine, but it was a delightful source of low end torque. My 67 convert had a 2 bbl 390 coupled to a 2:70 axle. The torque characteristics could overcome the tall axle in stop and go, and I could eke 18-19 mpg out of it on the open road. Not many cars of that size/engine displacement could do that. The Cruise-O-Matic was no Torqueflite, but at least it was a 3 speed, unlike the ancient Powerglide that Chevrolet was still offering.

    Yes, the steering was really light (almost Mopar-like) and the power drum brakes were REALLY touchy, and would fade BADLY when driven by an overly aggressive teenager. You don’t see a lot of these in salt country anymore, because they suffered badly from frame rust.

    In total, I remember these as very pleasant cars. Probably not as pretty as the 66 Impala, but it was a car that was very easy to live with and to like. And one point of trivia- did you know that the 65 Ford was the first car with a key that could be inserted either way (there was no longer an upside down). Thanks, Paul, I really enjoyed this one.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Remember Ford’s slogan of the time, also? “Ford has a better idea!”, complete with the (rather dim) lightbulb in their ads. This was one of their better ideas in theory, then they went and made the keys out of aluminum, as I recall. Soft aluminum keys were NOT a better idea. Maybe they should have stuck to the 2-way tailgate.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Kevin, actually I thought they were brass keys. I know they were by 67 and I thought they were in 66, but I can’t say about 65. The aluminum keys that I remember where from Chrysler. My 59 Fury had them, as did the 63 Newport driven by a high school buddy.
      The “magic doorgate” on Dad’s Country Squire was really cool, as were the dual facing rear seats. They were really roomy, but then, I was 7 years old when he brought it home.

      I just remembered something else fairly unique with these cars. In the Cruise-O-Matic transmissions, putting the lever to “2″ made the car start out in 2nd gear and stay there. IIRC, the practice with GM and Chrysler was to start in 1st, then shift to 2nd and hold it there. The Ford unit was good for starting out on slick streets, as it was easier to avoid spinning the wheels.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Now this is what I’m talking about. Style. Connect the classic styles of back then with the efficiencies and quality now, and domestic-made vehicles will win. Oh, yes, the rear side windows roll down, too! Look ma, no “B” pillar, either! Really miss vent windows, too. Cars like these are the reason you see them on commercials, not current ones.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Zackman, +1 on the vent windows. Add to this the fresh air cowl vents that blew fresh air out of the kick panels and heaters with valves that would shut off the hot water and keep it out of the heater core. Having a car with no a/c was much more livable when the hvac system was not blowing hot air at you through the “vent” setting. But when most cars got a/c systems, I think that the cost accountants squeezed the fresh air ventilation out of existance and made a/c almost a necessity.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      My father had a ’65 LTD 4-door (“quieter than a Rolls”) with the 390 (Tbird engine) – it had a vent that allowed air to pass through the rear shelf into the trunk and outside – it had a knob on the dashboard (vacuum operated) that opened and closed the vent. We later had a under-dash air-conditioner installed – because the dash board swept back quite dramatically – the air-conditioner formed a small shelf.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    jpcavanaugh, Yeah, I know. I remember GM’s 1968 “new” “Astro-Ventilation”, the end of the tag line went: “…Who needs vent-panes?”

    I rant on this stuff: no two and four-door pillarless hardtops, coupe rear windows that don’t open, much less roll down, no vent windows, little or no chrome or bright trim, “wedgie” styling that you can’t judge how close you are to something because cars have lost most all personality – no “soul”. Maybe I’m old-school, but there’s a reason that old cars (pre-1973) that resonate with EVERYONE. Style, style, style.

  • avatar
    coatejo

    Thank you Paul for this CC. I’m a big fan of big Ford’s of the 60′s. I think my favorite year was the ’67, but the 66 was nice too. In our family, we had a ’67 LTD with a 390, 4bbl. What a great car. My dad had a company car, a ’68 Fury III with a 383. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel of both cars. Now contrary to what has been said about the FE engines in general, and the 390 in particular, that LTD was no slouch, especially when compared to the Plymouth which always felt like it was out underpowered. Maybe the Plymouth was heavier. In any event, the big Fords from the 60′s were great cars, as were the GM and Mopars. They all got bloated and ugly in the 70′s.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      The same, Coatejo. The 65 was all crisp fron to back [though the rounded tail lights didn\'t work as well as the 66].

      But the 66 seems contrived to take that angularity and soften it with some GM round hipped curves. It’s a mish mash. Either or…

      The 67 was the most beautiful of the period, IMHO. Tail lights like jewels, grille just right, profile flowing and elegant and cohesive where the 65s and 66s were missing certain untangible elements.

      Love to see any of them living well these days though….

  • avatar
    eh_political

    @ Dimwit:

    I am getting to this thread rather late, but if memory serves, leaded cars perform well with unleaded gasoline.

    Jaimie Kitman did an excellent article on the additive tetra ethyl lead in the Nation magazine, exposing its origins, dubious merits, and health effects. General Motors and Standard Oil apparently needed an additive that could be patented, even though it was a known toxin, and inferior to some alternatives available at the time. Kitman’s story is sobering and saddening, but more importantly, as a huge (crappy) old car buff he has commented favourably on unleaded dino juice for jurrasic cars.

    Kitman article available here: http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Lead-History.htm

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Of course it was a ringer. Jim Wangers had Royal Oak Pontiac work the automotive equivalent of steriods on C/D test cars. They knew it in the GTO vs. GTO test, and they knew it a year later. Add about three seconds to the 0-60 time and that’s what most buyers experienced.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      I believe it was Royal Pontiac, in Royal Oak. They were called “Bobcats”, and all had a decal somewhere.
      Usually the factories sent the cars to their captive tuners before the magazines got them.
      I remember sending parts to some very obscure places.

  • avatar
    FordDude

    Paul,

    Thanks a lot for remembering to include the 7 Litre in your Curbside Classics series…It is truly a window into the past. I had the priveledge of taking a ride as a 15 year old in the “Real 7 Liter”…the 1966 427 equipped, red with a white interior,4-speed hardtop. I can still remember being pinned to the passenger seat during the entire 3rd gear boost phase. All I could manage to say was “Scary Fast” None of the other muscle cars around my neck of the woods would even think about it. The most inpressive part of the ride was the freeway roll on…

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    The 7 Litres ROCK! Saw several beautiful examples at Woodburn Dragstrip yesterday for the Ford Fever Classic! If you live in Oregon (including the Peoples Republic of Eugene) and love Fords, and was not there, you are square!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Shame they can’t make cars look this good today!

    • 0 avatar
      bugo

      This car has real style, something that is totally lacking from most new cars. I get angry when I see that Toyota minivan commercial where they brag about its “style.” Toyota wouldn’t know style if it smacked them in the face. They used to occasionally produce an attractive car, as the second generation MR2 was a beautiful car. Now they make ugly generic appliances. Long live the 7 Litre.

  • avatar
    gdwriter

    Although a died-in-the-wool Chevy fan and owner of a 327-equipped ’64 Impala, I always respect survivors, regardless of make. And the rarity of the 7-Litre automatically makes this nicely preserved example special.

    There was a joke back in 1965 when both Chevrolet and Ford restyled their big cars that the Galaxie looked like the box the Impala came in. I loved the sleek, flowing lines of the Impala, and I’ve never been a fan of stacked headlights. Although they did make Pontiacs look pretty aggressive.

    I’ve also read the Chevrolet softened things up quite a bit with the ’65 redesign, and the Impala lost some of the traits that made the previous generation so roadworthy (A Motor Trend road test in April 1964 praises the Impala’s ride and handling balance). My ’64 still has the original steering box, and it actually gives decent feel, especially for that era. Not at all pinkie-twirling light like other 60s cars I’ve driven. No floatiness or wallow in the ride, either.

    Back in the late 80s, a friend had a black ’68 LTD coupe with a 428. We called it the LTD from Hell, and it looked positively evil. With the 428, it could haul. But the first time I stepped on the brakes, I nearly put my face through the windshield. Probably the coolest full-size Ford I’ve ever known.

  • avatar

    It is not my favorite muscle car by all means. But it still has that look at me feel. I would still go for a mustang. This one is really in excellent condition though.

  • avatar
    oledad420

    Was looking for info on 7litre’s since Im doing some work on one for a family member and was shocked to find this since that is the car Im working on. It was brough new by my uncle who pasted in 95, but it is still owned by his wife and son. The car is all stock, except the color which my uncle had repainted a few years after he bought it to the color you see in the pic and the rims even though Im 41 and NEVER remember a time that those rims where not on the car. It has 98k orig miles as it sits today and it has not been driven very much since my uncle pasted. It is in what I would call almost mint condition. The engine needs some work due to sitting for so long and the clutch needs to be replaced soon, but since it’s all the original parts thats not that bad IMO, but other then that the car is perfect right down to EVERY light work correct including the “cold” temp light in the dash and the rear dome lights. My uncle LOVED this car and he showed it with the way he treated it and thats the reason this car will NEVER leave our family. IMO theres not a better non restored all original 66 7litre anywhere in the world, ohhhh and the am/fm radio still works like a charm as so does the rear seat speaker with it’s PERfect never cracked speaker cover. Ohhhh also to answer a couple questions about this car that people had, we have been running the premium grade unleaded gas in it since they stopped selling leaded gas in Oregon. As far as gas mileage I have keep the mileage on it for 3 tanks of gas now and they best I got was 7.4MPG and the worst is 6.6MPG and from what my dad tells me it has a 16.5gallon tank in it. I also forgot to mention that my dad and I also owns a 66 galaxie with the 428 that he has owned since it was new also but its the 500 not the 7litre and they are both sitting next to each other right now in my driveway. So as you can see our family LOVES these cars. Hope everyone who has looked at this or looks at it in the future enjoys “Bob’s 66″ as much as he did.

  • avatar
    ratkoda

    I was a proud owner of a 66 7 litre 4 speed car for about 5 years before rust got the better of it. Cruised Gratiot ave in 69 to 73 in detroit. Lots of good memories. My car must have been exceptional compared to the previous reviews. I put a 2.7 gear in it and got 18 mpg on the expressway, usually over 110 in the 1/4 with a 3.3 gear, only lost 2 race, a built 68 426 hemi charger and a 67 427 vette, not stock. I had lots of trouble with the 9 inch rear gears grenading on the 1-2 shift. The heads were reworked by the original owner, he put a big cam in it and dual quads, 4.11 gear, slicks and ran in the low 10′s. when I got it it had a stock int and 1 carb, and idled smooth so the cam must have been close to stock. I raced many other 66 7 litre cars gear for gear, t-lite to t-lite on gratiot and none were even close. Big block chevelles, 409 chevs mild build, 440 6 packs were a good run.
    Cancer got the best of her in the early 70′s, trunk, rear 1/4′rs, and the fatel blow was the frame broke by the rear upper link. I still have the eng and trans in mothballs. Going to find an old body to put it in, hopefully not too far down the road.
    Got a lot of memories with that car, most good, but even the not so good memories are still pretty good. There are a lot of cops that would have liked to meet me, plenty did, but many couldn’t. The foolish things we do when young and invincible. That car was a lot of fun. Wish I still had it intact.


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