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|It was the Fall of 1961, and with much fanfare
Ford Motor Company brought to market it's new and improved 1962 full size
automobiles. Several months after that introduction, there was a second
introduction with just as much fanfare and excitement. It was the new Galaxie
500 XL sub-series. The new XL option featured all-vinyl front bucket seats,
brightly decorated side trim panels, plus a center floor-shift console. In that
mid-year season offering the XL was available only as a two-door hardtop or as a
Left to right, 1962, 63-1/2, 64. The early 63's retained the formal T-Bird roof of the '62.
However, Ford didn't end with just adding bucket seats and a vinyl top to spiff up their performance image. The horsepower race was on, and starting with the the high-performance 360-horsepower 352 cid "big-block" V8 of 1960, Ford was determined to stay in the hunt. Keeping pace meant bringing out a 390 cid V8 in 1961. A factory option package that year included a 375 horsepower set up with a big Holley 4-barrel carburetor, special intake, cams, and cast-iron headers. A dealer-installed option boosted output to 401 horses with a tri-power set-up. These engine options were carried over for the start of the 1962 season, along with the introduction of Ford's first four-speed performance manual transmission. To accompany the XL's release in mid-1962, was the release of an even harrier V8 engine, the 406. Available in two ratings, 385 with a single four-barrel intake, or 405 horses with triple two-barrel carburetion, these made Ford a force to reckon with in the horsepower wars of the day.
When the 1963 model year opened in the Fall of 1962, both of the 406 V8s returned, as did the XL sporting a new addition, a four-door hardtop. The popularity of the XL package was very strong, and a number of buyers combined both the luxury of bucket seats (which was a bit of "sporty" too), and the power of a big-block multi-carb V8 under the hood.
Probably one of the most widely promoted mid-year introductions by any car company was staged by Ford with their 1963-1/2 models. The Galaxie 500 and Galaxie 500-XL sported a new "fastback" roof design on the two-door hardtop. This was a marked change from the squared-off, T-bird inspired formal roof line used for years on Galaxie models. About the same time as the fastback models were being introduced, the 406 V8s were being replaced by a pair of bigger and beefier 427 cubic inch V8s. The base edition equipped with a single four-barrel intake, was rated at 410 horses. For those who wanted the ultimate in pavement shaking power, the 427 with 425 hp was the answer, equipped with dual four-barrel carbs, and plenty of torque to make Ford the king of Total Performance.
With 1964, Ford presented the Galaxie 500 XL again in three top-line body styles as a two-door hardtop, four-door hardtop and convertible. Under the hood, the big mill was still the 427 offered from the previous season.
Total Performance -- Maxxed
During the 1962 season, Ford realized that light-weight models would help those involved in the competition set, and started to produce dealer-supplied parts for those interested in quarter-mile drag racing. Fiberglass fenders, hoods, deck lids, and bumpers were available, as was a truckload of high-performance engine, transmission and suspension parts.
Along with the introduction of the 427 V8s in mid-year 1963, a very limited number of factory lightweight two-door hardtops were produced. These were all built at the Atlanta, Georgia assembly plant, and were assigned to the Galaxie 500 series. Bodies were modified with aluminum bumpers, fiberglass hood, deletion of heaters, radios, and other horsepower robbing items. The interiors were spartan, to say the least, with rubber floor mats, lightweight special bucket seats and a thinly covered rear seat pad, in addition to the deletion of any insulation or padding as well as arm rests.
This limited production full-size Ford was not continued for the 1964 model year, as the factory dragster programs switched to the lightweight Ford Fairlane series with a little something called Thunderbolt. However, many lightweight parts were offered through dealerships for Galaxie models, and Ford continued to win at the race track on a regular basis.
While the heavy-duty high-performance mills are the most desirable, most of these Fords were powered by a much tamer selection of engines. Between 1962 and 1964, the standard in all but the XL models was the 223 cid Mileage-Maker six-cylinder engine that worked well, was quite economical, but was a little anemic for performance minded drivers. In 1962 the base V8 was the Y-block 145 hp, 292 V8, standard in the XL, while the "big-block 352 or 390 V8s were offered in all models, with the mid-year 406 cid V8s being limited to just the passenger cars.
For 1963, Ford introduced its new thin-wall construction small-block 289 V8, optional in all models except the XL where it was standard. Again both 352 and 390 V8s could be ordered, as well as the 406 units in the early part of the model year and the 427s later on. This fine family of Ford engines remained unchanged for the 1964 model year.
Towards the end of the 1980s, as the collector car market was seeing overly inflated prices of all vehicles, the high-performance big Fords from this era shot from the $20,000 range for a well appointed convertible upwards of the $40,000 mark. The special 1963 lightweight models were commanding prices over the $50,000 level, with prediction of seeing their value more than doubling by 1995. On this speculation a number of non-hobbyist investors jumped on the band-wagon and anted up their bets for big returns. When the bottom fell out of the market in the early 1990s, a number of these investors got burned, and that $100K level seems like a long way off. now.
Since that price-crash in 1991, the market for these has remained fairly tame, with slow, but steady appreciation. Prices of lightweight 1963 Fords today can command prices back up to the $50,000 range for prime examples, while even the more common Galaxie 500 convertibles with smaller engines can bring between $15,000 to $20,000 for excellent restorations.
Get updated values here.
Identifying Your XL
One of the biggest benefits for Ford collectors is ability to tell exactly what engine was installed in the car from the factory. This is done through the vehicle identification number, or VIN. For the 1962 to 1964 Fords, the fifth digit of the VIN indicates the engine based on the accompanying charts. The VIN is found on the data plate, or warranty tag attached to either the left front door pillar or the rear face of the driver's door.
When purchasing one of these cars, make sure you know the proper engine code from the VIN, and learn how to spot reproduction or replaced data plates. One clue would be to confirm if it has the original punch-type aluminum rivets. If the plate has been reproduced, or if you suspect that it might not be proper for the car there is another place to locate the ID numbers. On the 1962 Ford, the VIN was stamped into the top face of the right side frame rail, between the front suspension and forward body mounting bolt. For the 1963 and 1964 full-size Fords, the VIN was stamped onto a small metal tab under the hood, on the right side of the top of the firewall. Both of these locations may be obscured with dirt or grime, so be prepared to get your hands dirty cleaning them off.
For the future, these cars have excellent potential to appreciate in value ahead of the average collector vehicle. They are handsome, durable, well-built vehicles that drive surprisingly well. While they probably won't ever be worth a lot of money, the 427 cars could push $100,000 in the future. However, these Fords weren't built to become investment tools. They were built to be driven!
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