1963 was a huge year for Ford performance. Not only did Ford take the NASCAR title in ’63, but Ford rear-engine powered Indy cars also changed the Indy car culture. And drag racing was no different. They came out with 212 factory built Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight race cars. It revolutionized drag racing. Each of these R Code 427/425 horsepower semi-fastbacks now has incredible historical significance to car collectors.
One of these rare 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight cars sits in the showroom at Motorcar Classics in Farmingdale, New York this week. Seen here in its factory correct Corinthian white finish with a red interior, Motorcar Classics displays dozens of highly detailed photos. (All lightweights were produced from the factory in Corinthian white with red interiors.) Flashing its correct 15-inch Kelsey-Hays wheels, it comes with the aluminum front and rear bumpers and brackets.
With the introduction of the semi-fastback styling, Ford showed a new look on the Galaxie for ’63. Then they went the extra step by creating a special Lightweight edition of the Galaxie just for drag racing. Ford historian Dennis Kolodziej wrote, “200 of the production 1963 cars were built at Ford’s Norfolk Assembly Plant from April to June 1963.” Features common to these cars include Fords 427/425 horsepower R-Code engine, Borg Warner 4-speed aluminum transmission, Dual Holley 4-barrel carburetors, fiberglass front fenders and trunk lids, special lightweight interior components, Bostrom lightweight bucket seats, thin rubber floor mast and used no seam sealer or sound deadener. They even came heater, radeo and arm rest “delete.”
This car was found in Georgia and has been the subject of discussion on many forums. It was restored by a respected expert. It has fewer than 500 miles since restoration.
The factory took 425 pounds out of the Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight to create these purpose built drag racers. Although Ford did not take the NHRA championship in ’63, Les Ritchey of Les Ritchey-Ford in California, took the S/S Class at the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis in his 1963 Ford Galaxie Lightweight. Popular Hot Rodding Magzine took Les Ritchey’s Winternationals car to Pomona and logged a 12.49-second run at 116.27 mph.
Deceiving the casual observer, a Lightweight looked a lot like the street Galaxie 500. They had nothing in common, side from some sheet metal and the 427 block. Even the frame was derived from the base 300 series and built with lightweight outer rails, all part of an effort that took hundreds of pounds out of the car. And while the 427 Galaxie 500 Sports Hardtop was the car used in Fords dominating NASCAR program, the lightweight was strictly for the dragstrip.
Much of the weight reduction accomplished by Ford came from using fiberglass for the hood, front fenders, decklid and inner fender liners. Ford sourced the fiberglass components for this Lightweight program from Plaza Industries in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This Galaxie was restored to authentic “as-raced” condition including Police Interceptor low-fade 11 x 3-inch brakes with drilled backing plates, a race-spec aluminum RC Industries bellhousing, heavy-duty suspension, and an aluminum-case toploader T-10 4-speed.
The interior has no sound deadening or seam sealer, heater or radio; no roof supports, door pulls, dome light, reverse lights nor mirrors; no trunklid springs or even provision for a spare tire. Plus, the Galaxie”s padded sun visors were replaced with pieces of cardboard, and instead of carpet they used a thin rubber mat. The car has an open exhaust system and makes an incredible sound.