Chuck Phillips knew what he liked in a car way back in the late 1960s — he thought the 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 fastback had just about everything right.
"They’re kind of like a Timex watch. They take a lickin’ and they keep on tickin’," he said.
Over the years, he would own not one, but three of them.
"I like that roofline," said Phillips, a retired over-the-road truck driver who logged more than 4 million miles behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.
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But those three cars came and went. So Phillips was without a Galaxie hardtop when he went looking for parts for a 1955 Ford he was fixing up back in 2001. He spotted a ’64 fastback sitting under some trees at Kirk Hatfield’s place near Belle Plaine and his focus shifted immediately.
"It was a real good, straight car. There was just one spot of rust on it back by the roof. All the stainless was good, it just needed to be buffed up," he recalled.
Well, there was the matter of the missing engine and transmission, but Phillips knew he could remedy that.
"It was a bench seat car. Originally, it had a 3-speed on the column, and a 352, but it was gone," he said. He hauled the car home and began disassembling it, figuring to do a complete frame-off restoration.
He said the frame was packed full of red Oklahoma dirt. "You could probably still dip that frame in a tank of water and it would turn red," he said.
"I had worked on cars all my life, but I never had the opportunity to bring one back to life like this," Phillips said. "I set my mind to it that for once in my life, I was going to have one the way I wanted it. You can buy one finished, but it’s not done your way. I wanted to build it to my taste."
His taste involved making the Galaxie as smooth and uncluttered as possible. He removed some badging from the car’s hood and rear end, including an emblem adorning the trim in the taillight panel.
The car was painted in original Rangoon Red basecoat/clearcoat by the now-defunct D&M Body Shop, with the front fender spears getting their inset panels coated in gloss white.
The nose of the car was lowered slightly and a set of Rocket 15-inch 5-spoke mag wheels were selected, in large part because they had a smooth center cap that shows no attaching hardware. A set of Continental American Classic 225x75x15R tires, with medium-wide whitewalls, were mounted fore and aft.
Robbies Hobbies polished out all the stainless steel and chrome trim after the front and rear bumpers were replated by River City Plating.
Inside, Phillips wanted an interior to match the brilliant red and white accented exterior. Roger Maunz accommodated him, stitching up a gorgeous interior using the factory back seat and a pair of ’91 Escort bucket seats in bright red and white vinyl. The door panels and rear package tray were trimmed out to match.
Phillips got rid of the horizontal speedometer setup and made a custom aluminum panel to fit four auxiliary gauges. The bigger pods to the left and right of that panel proved a perfect fit for a tachometer and a 120-mph round speedometer, with all gauges being Auto Meter white-faced units.
He is building a console to house the B&M tall floor shifter and eventually plans to install a Vintage Air heating/air conditioning system.
The engine came out of a donor car, which supplied the correct 352 Ford V-8, which was bored out .10" and rebuilt to stock specifications by Midwest Engines, right down to an original-style Ford carburetor. Phillips did add a set of ceramic-coated headers from Ford Powertrain in Washington state, along with period-correct glasspack dual exhaust.
Cottman Transmission built the heavy duty C6 automatic transmission that sends power back to the original 9-inch Ford rear end. Drum brakes were used all around.
Other modifications include an aftermarket power rack and pinion steering system, a heavy duty aluminum radiator with an electric fan and a complete new wiring harness from E-Z Wire. The engine compartment was detailed completely, with the inner fenders powder-coated black, inside and out, and the engine painted in traditional Ford blue.
"That’s the only way to go with it," says Phillips. "It really takes you back. I like anything old … my wife tells me I live in the ’50s."
Well, maybe not the ’50s, but the ’60s, and his red ’64 Galaxie fastback is the perfect way to get around for those jaunts down memory lane.