Steve Chandler's

From Bucyrus Ohio

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Have you Flown A Ford Lately?

Shortly after I graduated from high school I had an accident that totaled out the first car I ever owned, a 1965 Ford Galaxie 2-door hard top with a 390/automatic. I went looking for another car and found the one I had to have. It was a 1966 Ford Galaxie 7-Litre.
This 7-Litre was red with a black vinyl top and black interior. With its 4-speed, bucket seats, and big 428 c.i. engine - it had everything a "kid" wanted back in those days. The car was then jacked up like "kids" did then with tall tires put on it to raise it a little more. Next were mag wheels. The four piston Kelsey-Hayes power disc brakes would stop you on a dime and give you nine cents change, but they required spacers if you wanted to put mags on. I never did have the money to dress up the engine like I wanted.
I ended up almost living in that Ford! It was my pride and joy! For a "Big Boat" that rode really nice, it would go like mad....Not so much from stop light to stop light, but it had a top end that wouldn't quit!
After I finished college, I decided to get married. My future wife had a '68 Mustang CP with a 289 in it. We decided that that would be a more "practical" car for us. My 7-Litre was sold to get a down payment on a house. I got $1,400.00 out of it! When I sold it, I told myself I would have another 7-Litre just like it some day. I never lost the thought of another one. However, it seemed like there were always more "practical" places for any extra money. ...The kids, the house, etc., so another 7-Litre was always put on the back burner.
Before I knew it, I was pushing 50 years old and there still seemed to be more "practical" places for my money. I then decided that there would always be more practical places for extra money. ...Thing was, would those things bring me the happiness and enjoyment another 7-Litre would? Each year that went by meant one less year to have that enjoyment.
I decided not to be practical anymore and was going to fulfill my dream of having another 7-Litre. I started looking. I found that finding a 7-Litre fastback with a 4-speed was now a lot harder to do than it was in 1968. 1 didn't know that the national 7-Litre registry had only 49 7-Litre 4-speed fastback cars in running order registered. I just knew they were hard to find in this day and age.
It took some time, but I finally found one! This car had 86,000 actual miles on it. ...And besides the 4-speed car to restore, there was a second 7-litre with no engine that went along as a parts car. In July of 1999, 1 decided to take the six hour drive one way to check out the cars. A gear head friend of mine, Ken Teets, had agreed to restore the car for me. He also agreed to take the long drive with me to check out the cars.
The project car was a 4-speed car like I wanted but it didn't have a vinyl top. It also had red interior and not black like I wanted. The parts car, however, was a vinyl top car so it had the vinyl top moldings that I needed. Besides that the guy had an extra black interior that went with the deal.
In checking out the cars, the project car had a beautiful floor pan with one vary small hole rusted through in the trunk. The frame was also solid and not rusted out. After some dealing I bought both cars. I had to pay more than the $1,400.00 I got out of mine when I sold it 29 years before. ...Wonder why? With FoMoCo only making 1754 hard top 4-speed 7-Litre cars to start with, I guess a few have bit the dust over the last 35 years. As one guy told me once, I was looking for a dinosaur and they are extinct!
A few weeks later I rented a car hauler from Dale Sipe who has a local garage. Ken Teets and I then spent an 18 hour day going after both cars. We put one on the hauler and towed the other one behind. The car in tow had the shocks broken off so it bounced all the way home. Thank God Ken did all the driving! I was a nervous wreck knowing I was the one responsible for anything that might happen. We made it back home around midnight with no problems. Once back home the project car was dropped off at Ken's garage and the parts car ended up on my patio.
In about a month, Ken got the project car drivable: brakes, gas tank, new suspension, etc. We then drove the car for about a month to figure out what bugs needed to be worked out before tearing it apart. Now it was ready for restoration! Ken did all of the restoration and I was just an extra pair of hands. I did find out some of the "enjoyment" of restoring an old car! Spending days on end under the car on a creeper... wire brush in hand with dirt falling in my eyes. Boy was that "Fun!" Then there was stripping the paint off, taking the whole car down to bare metal! I also got a first hand view of where all dirt can get in an old car - everywhere! For months we were finding mice nests everywhere, not to mention just about anything else you can think of. We spent hour upon hour just cleaning and flushing out the frame rails. At times I wondered why I ever decided to fix up an old car!
I was also stuck with tracking down parts. Finding parts for a 7-Litre takes a little more time than for a Mustang! They don't reproduce '66 Galaxie 7-Litre parts like they do for other cars. Then again, demand is not there since the 7-Litre was only made for one year to start with. The Ford Galaxie Club of America was the biggest help I could have found. If you own a Galaxie and do not belong to the FGCoA, you are missing the best resource you could have for parts, technical help, etc.
After over a year of restoration, I now have a 7-Litre like I had when I was a kid and then some. The only thing missing is a Hurst shifter (they don't make them for the 66 Galaxie anymore). I just located one and will have it on the car after the chrome plating is done. Then I will be able to put my Hurst T-handle off my old 7-Litre on my new one! My 7-Litre is NOT like it came from the factory; it is how "kids" wanted a car in the late '60's: jacked up, mag wheels, dressed-up engine, etc. My 7-Litre is a car from my youth!
I spent more on my restoration than I planned on at the start. I added the "extras" I wanted as a kid but couldn't afford. I now have something that I've always wanted in life! All the work - dirt in the eyes, etc., was well worth it! Knowing I had a hand in bringing an old Galaxie back to life made it even better. The happiness and enjoyment my "second" 7-Litre is bringing me is priceless!! The only thing that could have made it better would have been if the 7-Litre I restored was the same 7-Litre I had when I was a kid! { Reprinted from the November-December V18 Issue 6 2001 Galaxie Gazette... Congratulations Steve!}

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