Vitality and Action: The 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Is an XL Car for an XL Lifestyle

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

If it’s not already abundantly clear through snarky asides hidden deep within news stories and reviews, automotive journalists despise PR-speak. We loathe the adjectives and nouns chosen by committee to best express the attributes not only of the car, but of the company and those running it. We’d sooner drink glue than hear the words “synergy,” “synergistic,” or “dynamic” ever again. “Dynamism,” too.

We get it, your new electric self-driving pod is dynamically synergistic. Or something. Please stop talking and hand over the keys, if indeed there are any.

Still, that doesn’t stop any of us from sitting back and delighting in the PR-speak emanating from the car commercials of yesteryear. It’s a guilty pleasure (for some, anyway), a time capsule to a long-ago age when, just maybe, things were better, more enjoyable, and more exciting. These Baby Boom or counterculture-era TV spots promise a limitless future of unending promise.

For many, the past is a patch of grass that never stops being the greenest in the land, if only because we’ve never (and will never) set foot there. Those of us who haven’t slipped over the brink of postmodernism are still able to enjoy these ads and the obsessed-over nouns and adjectives contained within, even in spite of the outdated social norms.

Are you ready to see what a Ford Galaxie 500 XL can do for a single man?

We don’t know his name, only that he’s healthy, fit, Caucasian, and probably about 5’8″. He’s a “modern man” with “imagination and drive,” the voiceover tells us — and, in 1964, that means shaving purposefully with an electric razor, wearing a fedora with the smallest brim you’ll ever see, and donning a formless overcoat like a youth who’s raided his dad’s closet and can’t quite pull it off.

Knowing he’ll soon have to tame the hula hoop-sized wheel of a full-sized Ford, snazzy leather driving gloves are also coming along for the ride.

It’s clear our modern man must have nailed a big raise in return for all of his corporate ladder-climbing. After all, he’s got a Galaxie 500 XL. As the highest falutin’ Ford in ’64, a man in his late 20s would need to score some pretty big accounts to buy that kind of action. And “action” is what he’ll get.

Unlike nowadays, “action” was the go-to automotive buzzword of the mid-to-late 1960s. Action was something drivers pursued, something a spirited driver craved. It was something they found through their car. And, as we see our successful modern man picking up his girl, accompanied all the while by jazzy, Henry Mancini-like music designed to instill the utmost confidence and swagger, it’s clear the horsepower of a (we assume) 390 cubic-inch V8 isn’t the only type of action he’ll see tonight.

Still, this is the early ’60s we’re talking about. The real racy stuff didn’t appear until well after the Summer of Love, peaking when people started becoming “ Dodge Material.”

Also, because this commercial’s not your typical glossy, well-financed U.S. ad campaign — it’s a local Canadian spot — the creators decided to throw every last descriptor, every last noun and adjective that could possibly compel someone to visit a dealership, into the mix. Go nuts, the director said. Yes, that Galaxie 500 XL is truly “the embodiment of her idea of perfection.”

But check out that sexy floor shifter — obviously designed for sophisticated living. And the dude? He’s “got what it takes.” Yes, “a real flair for elegance — confidence and sophistication personified.” And the overall experience? Listen here, this car possesses a “personality of vitality and action,” making it the obvious choice for going to “the best places in town.” It’s a car that “marks its occupants with graciousness and good taste” and “earns the respect of everyone.”

The complete lack of constraint, coupled with a reasonable amount of polish and a fatal yet admirable dose of earnestness, easily makes this one of the most Mad Men-ish car ads I think I’ve ever seen. I’m thinking about getting one of these 500 XLs now — I hear it’s able to do a thing or two for your reputation.

Also, it isn’t dynamic, nor is there any synergy at work. Surely they’d have told us if there was. I like that.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Oct 30, 2017

    I've always liked the '64 Fords. The first thing I would do is take off the fender skirts, and throw them away. Total Performance!

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Oct 31, 2017

    The guy in the commercial also has enough class to open the door for a lady. Some of these millenials could learn a thing or two...

    • Mason Mason on Nov 01, 2017

      Yeah, cuz millennials are the only ones that don't open doors for ladies these days.

  • Wolfwagen What I never see when they talk about electric trucks is how much do these things weigh and how much does that detract from the cargo-carrying capacity?
  • Wolfwagen I dont know how good the Triton is but if they could get it over here around the $25K - $30K They would probably sell like hotcakes. Make a stripped down version for fleet sales would also help
  • 3SpeedAutomatic You mentioned that Mitsubishi cars had lost their character. Many brands are losing that that element as well. GM is giving up on the ICE Camaro and Dodge on the ICE Challenger. There goes the Bad Boy image. Might as well get your teeth pulled and dentures put in place. Would like to see a few EVOs with cherry bomb exhaust and true 4 cylinder BIG blower turbos; 4 wheel drift capacity is mandatory!!🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos Here in my overseas summer palace, I filled up my tank twice in May, at 68 and 52 euros (a full 90+ liter tank fillup has taken 130-135 Euros in the past, and I am 23 miles from downtown here, while only 1-2 miles in the US)Still, diesel here is MUCH cheaper than gas. Yesterday, I paid 1,488 a liter while gas was at least 1,899 (regular).Multiply by almost 4 for gallons AND by an additional 1.1 for $.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic IIRC, both China and the EU use a standardized charger connection. About time the US & Canada to follow.Would take some of the anxiety out of an EU purchase and accelerate adoption. 🚗🚗🚗
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