Sleek, stylish and cooler than an ice cube in an igloo, this 1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner is the kind of ride you always wished your father would pick up to replace the family’s stodgy four door. Instead of an economical inline six, it has a top option 390 tri-power V8. Instead of a boring automatic slush box, it has a tough Borg Warner T-10 four speed. And today, thanks to fine fellows at RKM Performance Center, it’s fully sorted and ready to hit the road! After years of being virtually overlooked, these stylish full-size Fords have developed a strong following which is built around a devout appreciation for their performance and a deep respect for their innovation. If you’re a blue oval fan who enjoys big time muscle, carefree open air cruising and plenty of room to stretch out, this prized drop top is your kind of car!
A sporty version of Ford’s well-known Galaxie, the jet age Sunliner kicked off its long legacy with a prestigious award from the International Fashion Authority that applauded its “functional expression of classic beauty”. And in typical 60s Detroit fashion, with long panels and creases that stretch from stem to stern, these cars are incredibly hard to make straight if they’ve been reworked or damaged. However, on this Sunliner I’m seeing nothing but quality work which is the result of good panel alignment and an astute attention to detail. That means the cosmetic restoration of this car wasn’t a just quickie re-spray, it was a professional effort to create a head turning classic which looks good both on the road and the show field. The car’s doors operate with precision, its hood and trunk are centered in their respective openings, and naturally, its weather stripping is fresh and pliable. On top of that reworked body, a modern two stage coat of Ford code H Chesapeake Blue paint creates a deep and glossy finish that acrylic lacquer and enamels from 1961 just can’t touch. And thanks to our hard working detail crew, every panel is fresh out of a thorough polish which makes the car look absolutely radiant.
After the controversial design of their 1960 full-size line up, Ford re-styled the Galaxie with a number of familiar visual elements and added a full array of brilliant chrome trim which came courtesy of a new, advanced plating process. At the front of the car, a concave, body-width chrome grille hangs four pristine headlights above a silver front valence and a new chrome bumper that is complete with clear, square parking lights. Behind that grille, a wide and flat hood leads the eye to like-new glass which is framed in well-maintained stainless trim and flanked by a new, and very ornate, driver’s side mirror. At the top of that glass, a white vinyl top perfectly complements the car’s blue exterior paint; and at the bottom of that glass, trick chrome door handles originate chrome trimmed style lines which trace the car’s modest rear fins. Below those chrome trimmed fins, stainless side spears perfectly align with “Sunliner” front fender scripts. And behind those chrome trimmed fins, traditional round tail lights frame a new chrome valence, a new rear bumper, a modernist “Galaxie” decklid script and wide-set stainless steel exhaust turn downs.
This Galaxie’s hood is long and flat for a reason: to fit a 390 cubic inch NASCAR spec Thunderbird Special V8 into its engine bay in a way that leaves no evidence as to the high performance fury its cocky traffic light opponent is about to unleash. Wearing a correct C1AE-6015-V casting number, the big engine is dominated by an oval, finned aluminum air cleaner housing which pipes wind into three Holley 2300 2-barrel carburetors that are supplied fuel by a heavy duty fuel pump and clean stainless lines. At the bottom of those carburetors, a correct aluminum intake, which is topped by a slick chrome oil cap, holds a correct dual points distributor which, thanks to a hotter spark advance, sends fire through individually numbered SX plug wires. At the sides of that distributor, gold “Thunderbird” branded valve covers hang gold “Ford Motor Company High Performance Engine” decals above correct header-style cast iron exhaust manifolds which appear to be fresh out of a restoration. Cooling is provided by new hoses which circulate water through correct tower clamps and what appears to be an original radiator and overflow tank. And charging is provided by a new generator which sends current to a freshly tagged Autolite Sta-Ful battery. Aesthetically, the fresh engine bay looks good enough to show off to anyone, anywhere as the underside of the hood has been finished to match the car’s Chesapeake Blue body; and the satin black engine block blends perfectly with the car’s satin black inner fenders.
At the bottom of this classic convertible, solid floors and an equally solid X-frame are supported by a road ready suspension which has been recently inspected and fully serviced. A large diameter driveshaft spins a rock solid Ford nine inch rear end which is ready to supply its new owner with years of hard launches and steady reliability. And the muscular 390''s power is transmitted rearward through a correct Borg Warner T-10 4-speed manual transmission which transforms this would be boulevard cruiser into drag strip battle ship. At the front of the car, a correct manual steering rack provides surprisingly tight turns and a responsive feel. At the center of the car, a mandrel bent true dual exhaust system, which feeds a pair of rear mounted turbo mufflers, gives the big 390 a deep and throaty voice that lets people know this isn’t just another parade vehicle. And at the corners of the car, rebuilt heavy duty brake drums, which supply quick and precise stops, ride between four new shocks and a fresh set of 225/75/15 wide whitewall BF Goodrich Silvertown Radials that are mounted around vintage Kelsey-Hayes cats eye wheels and new stainless center caps.
One of the best aspects of this car is the fact that you can drop its top and enjoy endless hours of open air cruising; and when you do, you’ll be riding in both comfort and style thanks to a fresh, tri-tone vinyl and cloth interior. At the center of the car, blue and gray bench seats, which feature retro silver piping, are the perfect place for you and the family to spend sunny afternoons seeing the sights. In front of you, a freshly repainted dash hangs a fade and crack free pad above original, color matched gauges, a correct AM radio and an ornate blue and chrome steering wheel. Below you, new blue loop pile carpet props carpeted floor mats next to a correct chrome Hurst shifter. And immediately to your left and right, tri-tone door panels hang correct chrome handles in front of fresh stainless trim, color matched door toppers and more of that cool silver piping. At the back of the cockpit, a nicely finished trunk features a new mat, a full-size spare tire and a correct jack assembly. And everything in this drop top Galaxie, from its stylized chrome rearview mirror to its light blue convertible cowl is stylish and well-done!
Included with the sale of this drop top muscle car is a 1961 Ford service manual, a vintage copy of Hot Rod Magazine which features Galaxie strip cars, a copy of Hemmings Muscle Machines which features an article on the tri-power Galaxie Sunliner, a vintage Crane Cams catalog, some random parts and restoration catalogs, and a stack of restoration receipts.
A scant fraction of 1961 Galaxies were powered by the 390/4-speed combination, and I’m willing to bet that even fewer were equipped with a convertible roof. Add in the service work performed by our ASE certified mechanics and you have a great driving Ford that will draw crowds at just about any show you attend. Even people who aren’t familiar with cars recognize this one as something special, and it looks fast just sitting still. This is the car your father wished he would have bought instead of that four door sedan with the six cylinder and slush box; don’t let this rare chance at redemption pass you by!