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A Galaxy of Cars

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The Ford Galaxie is one of the brightest stars among the galaxy of cars.
The full-sized Ford wound up being the second best-selling car platform after the Model T and the Galaxie name had a lot to do with it. Built from 1959-1974, it's instantly recognizable in its Taxi and Police Interceptor configurations but was also one of the most sparkling names in luxury.

The Space Race was upon us and Ford wanted to use a name in the lineup that would denote the class and performance of American ingenuity.
The Galaxie was first introduced as a trim level above the Fairlane for the 1959 full-sized Ford model year. Despite being a separate series being developed, some '59 Galaxies carried both Fairlane 500 and Galaxie labels.
Cues were taken from the Ford Thunderbird when adding the C pillar on the hardtops while the convertible Sunliner and convertible hard top Skyliner were placed under the Galaxie name.
The car was adorned with chrome and stainless steel.
People loved it.

New designs for the Galaxie ushered in the 1960 model year.
There was less ornamentation and the A pillar was now swept forward. The typical round taillights were replaced with half-circles. The Starliner model was also introduced, a model with a curved glass rear window on a pillar-less hardtop body.

In 1961, the Galaxie's body was redesigned again but underneath was mostly the same. The tailfins were beginning to diminish while the round taillights were back. There was more focus on performance now. The Starliner model now featured power equipment and was promoted as more luxurious but was discontinued at the end of the year after struggling to compete with the Club Victoria model.
This car was so acclaimed that Ford was given an award from world fashion authority Centro per L'Alta Moda Italiana. The Galaxie was officially recognized as a "functional expression of classic beauty".

In 1962, Fairlane was moved to a new intermediate model and the Galaxie name was applied to all full-sized Fords. More luxury was introduced with the Galaxie 500 and 500/XL models, featuring a plush interior and liberal use of chrome. The car began to take on a more rounded look, with fins completely gone. Base Galaxies were available as 2 door and 4 door sedans or as a Ranch Wagon.
Ford became more interested in using the Galaxie for NASCAR and 11 lightweight, fiberglass panel Galaxies were developed for experimentation.

The Galaxie for 1963 remained similar but with slight changes in trim and a reshaped windshield. A fastback was added mid-year with plans to become more competitive in NASCAR. This was Ford's official 1/2 year model and outsold all of the standard models.
The final year for this body style was 1964 and alterations were made to create a more aerodynamic car. Now all non-wagon models featured the fastback roof.
For 1964, Ford's lineup won Motor Trend's car of the year award.

The new design introduced in 1965 featured vertically stacked headlights and a fresh suspension system. The Galaxie became slightly taller and bulkier. This was also the first year for the top-of-the-line Galaxie 500 LTD.
In 1966 the Galaxie 500 7 Litre was introduced and used the 345 hp 428 cubic inch Thunderbird V8. The popular, widely distributed Police Interceptor models were built with a 360hp version of the 428 engine. The LTD branched off into its own model from here.
The Galaxie became the #3 selling convertible in the US, beaten only by the Mustang and the Chevy Impala. Safety features were included more and more from 1967 onward. The Galaxie now featured recessed controls, a dual master brake cylinder, a padded steering hub with energy absorbing column, and seatbelts.

Ford’s Galaxie was the same car only from the windshield back in 1968. A new grille with horizontal headlights was made and the car was designed around the idea of a long hood and short deck.
The popular film Dirty Harry featured a Galaxie 500 as the titular character’s vehicle of choice and by this point you could find Galaxies all throughout movies.
Full-sized Ford wagons were treated as separate by this time but there was one under the Galaxie name in '68.
A platform change was brought to the Galaxie in 1969 along with the dashboard being redesigned around the driver instead of straight across.

One more major redesign was made in 1971. The horizontal bumper was larger and wrapped around. The grille featured a large vertical center section and the round headlights were lost.
The design for 1972 was similar but with a less prominent grille center. The rear bumper was enlarged and tail lamps were added. This was also the final year for the 240 6-cylinder engine and 3-speed transmission.
Shorter, bulkier, and heavier was the theme for 1973. The base driveline was now a 351 V8 engine with SelectShift automatic transmission and a huge range of fleet vehicle packages were available.

The last year for the Galaxie 500 name was 1974 and the Galaxie name as a whole started being phased out in 1975. Full-sized Fords were consolidated under the LTD name.

From every day use to starring in feature films, the limits of luxury were pushed by the Ford Galaxie.