When people think of classic cars, they don't always think of the Ford Galaxie. That said, this is a model that does sometimes come to mind. In some circles, the Galaxie was revered and in others, it seems as though it's been almost entirely forgotten. Is this really the case, and if so, why? Perhaps the thing that people really should be asking is what happened to the Galaxie? By all accounts, it seems like it was a vastly popular automobile for a number of years, 1959 to 1974 to be exact. It's hard to understand how a car that was popular enough to be produced for more than a decade suddenly just disappeared without even a thought. However, that does seem to be precisely what happened to the Ford Galaxie. Fortunately for a car buffs and historians alike, it's possible to untangle this particular mystery.
A Burgeoning Space Race
When Ford first made the decision to produce this car in 1959, there was talk about putting a man on the moon. Even though it seemed almost impossible to actually make this happen at the time, people were becoming more and more excited about the idea as time went on. As a result, Ford made the decision to produce a new automobile and celebrate this new era of the space race by naming the car the Galaxie. As it turns out, the car ended up being as popular as the idea of sending a man to the moon. Customers turned out in droves to purchase this full-size sedan, one that was considered at the time to be at the top of its game.
The Galaxie’s Prime
For a number of years, the Ford Galaxie enjoyed a great deal of success, more than most executives at Ford could have even hoped for. However, things in the automotive industry don't tend to stay the same for very long and this was also the case here. Ford had begun introducing a couple of new trim models for the Galaxie in the early 1960s. For example, 1962 saw the basic Ford Galaxie model, a model with XL trim, and the famous LTD trim, which noted Ford's higher echelon of trim packages. This process continued for a few years, but by the late 1960s Ford had started to drop these additional trim packages. Between 1967 and 1969, both the XL and the LTD trim packages were dropped from the Galaxie nameplate. That left only the basic model still in production. Typically, this is a dead giveaway that the automotive maker is planning to discontinue a particular model, often due to declining sales. By 1974, the Galaxie was indeed discontinued, with the last of the 1974 models rolling off of the assembly line around mid- 1973.
Over the years, the Ford Galaxie was produced in a number of different styles ranging from hardtop convertibles to fastbacks and sedans of both the two-door and four-door variety. When the car was first produced for the 1959 model year, it looked very much the part. In fact, it had that classic 1950s automotive design that has become synonymous with that particular point in time. It was then that the hardtop convertible was first introduced, something that relatively few automakers were doing at the time. This involved the first generation of Ford Galaxies. Ultimately, the automaker would create four different generations of this particular model before it ceased production. Despite the fact that the car was featured with an iconic 1950s design for its introduction, it had been completely redesigned as a second-generation model by the early 1960s. Throughout that time, the car remained popular and reflected the popular design of a new decade. It was then that Ford began introducing soft top convertibles along with both two-door and four-door conventional models. Overall, the car became a bit lighter and slightly smaller, all without losing any of its charm.
The third generation of the Ford Galaxie was produced in the late 1960s with relatively few changes. The biggest changes were noticed when the fourth generation came along in the 1970's, reflecting the popular design of the time. The car had once again regained its size that it enjoyed when it was first produced. In fact, it was one of the larger automobiles in existence, even by 1970 standards. However, the main thing that had changed by this time was that the car was no longer attracting the attention of buyers in the same way because it wasn't being designed as something that was special, available only to people that truly appreciated such an automobile. Instead, it was produced as a run-of-the-mill sedan that looked very much like many of the other cars on the road at the time.
As a result of declining sales, Ford ultimately made the decision to stop producing the Galaxie after the 1974 model year. It's relatively easy to understand why, especially given the fact that the energy crisis of the 1970s basically spelled the end of most full-size automobiles in general. People were flocking to smaller cars that didn't use as much gasoline, leaving the larger gas-guzzling automobiles to fend for themselves. Sales had already been declining when it came to the Ford Galaxie, largely because of the aforementioned changes Ford had made. Add to those changes the fact that larger cars simply weren't as popular, and sales began to decline sharply during the early 1970s.
These days, the Ford Galaxie can still be found if you know where to look. However, it's not found in large numbers. Typically, you will find it in the hands of just a few individuals who appreciate classic cars. As a direct result, it often shows up at car shows and similar events, in the hands of a few caring individuals that want to preserve the unique history of this automobile.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith