By on October 28, 2017

1964 Ford Galaxie 500 XL, Image: Wikimedia

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are still able to enjoy these ads and the obsessed-over nouns and adjectives contained within, even in spite of the outdated social norms.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)]

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31 Comments on “Vitality and Action: The 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Is an XL Car for an XL Lifestyle...”

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I’ll take a red convertible with the biggest V-8 Ford stuck in them. Please.

    • 0 avatar

      Any model with a 427 goes for a steep price tag. I’d be content with a dual exhaust 4V 390.

    • 0 avatar

      Dad had a red 65 convertible. Some of my earliest memories with him involved cruising around town with the top down and the radio cranked. He bought a matching pair of shades for me that were way too big. I could barely see over the dash but I thought I was the coolest cat in town.

  • avatar

    Nice! Love these old commercials despite how corny they are today.

    Would love to see a manufacturer spoof one of these old commercials with a modern car.

  • avatar

    An intriguing look back into the past! Now on to the subject matter. There is absolutely no way I would have bought this over the 64 Impala.

    • 0 avatar

      My parents decided to buy a new car in 64. They were deciding between the Galaxie and the Impala. I was rooting for the Galaxie because dad would have ordered the 390 engine and I thought ithe car looked better. They ordered the Impala with the 327 in a 4 dr sedan because they got a better deal. Once I got my drivers license I learned that 327 would outrun a 390.

  • avatar

    Ford styling in the 60’s was years behind GM’s.
    In Rochester NY, however, its rusting was years ahead of GM.

    • 0 avatar

      In 1960’s Rottenchester, everything rusted ahead of its time. Wish I owned the road salt concession there.

    • 0 avatar

      I was brought home from the hospital after my birth in a Galaxie 500. It was my Grandfather’s first new car. The rear bumper fell off in the driveway due to rust when it was three years old. Impressive! He didn’t buy another Ford until the ’95 Windstar. Yeah, that was not a good one to buy either.

  • avatar

    Dude looks like a young Jay Onrait of TSN/ex Fox Sports.

    The ’64 Ford was the only full-size car of the low-priced three to buy in 1964. The Impala had its worst year for styling and the Plymouth was still suffering from its ill-advised downsizing. The Ford that year had good styling inside and out for a change.

    • 0 avatar

      There was an almost full size alternative in 1964 – the Rambler Ambassador. It was shorter, without that massive rear overhang, but had a 270 HP 327 V8 that had to haul about 800 pounds less weight around.

  • avatar

    I’ll take mine with code R checked on the option boxes, please! Had a 64’ wagon. Had 376,000 miles on it when sold. I was the second owner. 352CI with a Ford Cruisomatic. Drive train was on 2nd trans and junkyard engine replaced in 1974. Prairie Tan.

  • avatar

    I would sure like to have a 500 XL, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to live up to its expectations. I’d better just go with a Thriftpower Falcon.

  • avatar

    The exterior’s kinda “meh” but the XL had one of the nicest interiors in the 60’s, luxury class excluded.

  • avatar

    As pretty as the interior was on the ’64,
    The outside looked a little bloated.

    My next door neighbor had a ’63-1/2 Galaxie coupe, copper on copper.

    Absolute knockout of a car.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    My old man had a 64 Galaxie 500. As a 4 year old and unrestrained in the back, it was a playground.

    His had an inline 300cu six. My family being a Ford family since my great grandfather bought the Model T in the 20s to replace the horse for his express business with Long Island Railroad, my old man bought a 65 Falcon with a V8 and 4 headlights.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    There’s an old adage in show business called “show, don’t tell.” For example, rather than telling us “this car corners well,” show us footage of the car sailing around corners. Rather than telling us how much the guy’s girl digs the car, just show her looking at it (and him) with admiration. We’ll get it.

    The narrators in these old car ads do quite a lot of telling. This one was talking up a blue streak. I guess advertising back in the day hadn’t learned the fine art of subtly yet.

    This ad still doesn’t hold a candle to the recently posted vintage ad insisting that a creepy Dodge van would make the perfect ladies’ man car. No amount of telling could pass that one off. “Yes, fellows, women will fall head over heels for this windowless vehicle where no one can hear you scream.”

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    About 10 doors down from me, an older gent and his wife reside. I have talked to him a handful of times at the mail box. At this point in his life he is a GM guy as he drives an XTS and the wife pilots an Enclave.

    He keeps in his third bay, a 67′ (I believe) 500 vert’ 390 CID maroon with black top, if I recall somewhere in the late 180’s on the odo. I spoke with him regarding the car awhile back. He bought it new in Long Island prior to marriage. Brought the car with him everywhere he moved and as his family grew etc. According to him he rebuilt the engine himself using a Ford manual that he purchased sometime in the late 70’s. We live in CO, so rust is not an issue thankfully, he advised that he has willed the car to his older son.

    • 0 avatar

      If the son doesn’t have the same sentimental attachment to the car, having it willed to him would be unfortunate. Things like that should be enjoyed by the owner of the sentiment during his or her lifetime. If I were willed something with sentiment attached, I would want it to be something small enough for a safety deposit box, like diamonds or gold coins (I’m not very sentimental).

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I agree Lorenzo.

        I was willed my handle. I restored it, sold it, and gave the funds back to my mom. I don’t get attached to things, especially cars. I am more of a variety is the spice of life than get attached to any one.

  • avatar
    Southern Perspective

    ’64 Plymouth could be had with a 426 wedge, and it was lighter….

  • avatar

    This explains my father’s eBay purchase of a black 63 500XL convertible (390, 4-speed). Well he was trying to replicate his ’62 406/405 3 speed (w/OD). My mother was not impressed, since he was supposed to unload three other projects prior to purchasing another.

    Car is available! :)

  • avatar

    What I find intriguing about this ad is that it is a “Canadian Motors” Ford Galaxy XL. Almost as though the dealership was the manufacturer …

  • avatar

    Steph, I have to wonder if the subject ad had an equivalent in the USA. The VO is stilted and the production a little…off. Not up to US standards IMO.

    I respectfully think these do a better job of making your point, although it’s true none of them say “dynamism”, LOL…

    “Druggist Frank”:
    “Fiz Liz”:
    3:00 version with full jingle. I’ll bet this ran in Sunday night prime time…

  • avatar

    Nice Massachusetts year of manufacture plates too.

    The same year/model car was Agent K’s 1960s era car in Men in Black III, for what it’s worth.

  • avatar

    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!

  • avatar

    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…

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