Ford’s full-size Galaxie is an American icon, having served as police cars, family trucksters, cabs, and even race cars powered by the thundering 427ci big-block. Along with taking scalps in the NHRA, Galaxies were used by Ford to take NASCAR glory in the mid-60s with drivers like Fred Lorenzen. So how come we don’t see more killer Gals being built like Malcolm Niall’s epic ’66?
Built by Cronic Customs, the big-hipped West Aussie coupe boasts super-smooth paint and panel, pro-touring suspension and a sweet quad-cam Coyote five-litre injected V8.
Malcolm bought the car in Melbourne as an American import, thinking that the Coyote V8 he already had would be a good fit. Adam Spiteri from Cronic Custom recalls: “Initially, the Galaxie was just like so many other cars, as it was only going to be an engine conversion, making it a tidy streeter. But it snowballed.”
Cronic Customs couldn’t find an off-the-shelf front-end upgrade kit for a ‘65-‘66 Galaxie, so they thought laterally. Looking at cars with a close match to the Gal’s track width, the Cronic dudes realised TCI’s Mustang double wishbone front-end conversion kit would work, even though they didn’t need to delete strut towers like Mustang and mid-size Ford owners do.
The Cronic lads set the new crossmember and Viking coil-over suspension in the chassis to give a radical slammed stance that doesn’t require complex air suspension. It did, however, require fabricating a complete new transmission tunnel.
“We made a new tunnel and raised it four inches, as this allows a much lower ride height,” Adam says. “Malcolm’s car is six to seven inches lower than a factory model.”
The pro touring-style front end has been matched to a custom rear end wearing a bespoke four-link set-up. It features boxed control arms that have been through the dimple-die machine and located by a custom Panhard bar. A sheet-metal Strange Engineering nodular nine-inch diff is hung underneath, chock full of 31-spline axles and a 3.5:1 Truetrac centre.
The stock 5.0-litre Coyote donk won’t trouble such a heavy-duty diff set-up, even with a factory 343kW (460hp) out of the crate. It runs off a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, which also runs the twin Aeroflow pumps in the new custom stainless fuel tank that lives under the boot floor. Oversized half-inch fuel hardlines future-proof any plans Malcolm might have to throw a pump or turbo onto the motor, while the Cronic Customs crew made up a set of custom 17/8-inch spaghetti headers to ensure the deep-breathing mill isn’t strangled.
Adam and his team also had to fabricate a new oil pan to clear the new crossmember and steering set-up, while they chucked on a Quick Time bellhousing on the back to adapt a GM TH400 three-speed auto to the back of the Blue Oval motor.
“Most of the cars we do have TH400s or ’Glides in them, but originally, we were going to build a Ford C4. However, TH400s are a lot stronger and it’s a heavy car,” Adam explains. “Plus, by the time we would have built a C4 we could have paid for a solid TH400, and we wanted to be 100 per cent confident in it. We could have also fitted a modern six-speed auto, but it drives so nicely with the TH400.”
Once the Cronic guys had the entire engineering package sorted out, they pulled the car apart and sent it off to be painted and trimmed. This was the point where traditional American panel-beating techniques reared their ugly heads.
“The Galaxie was a typical American car,” Adam says. “It was neat and looked pretty tidy from a distance, but under the glossy paint it had rust and bog there. Calmack Panel & Paint actually ended up having to fit a new turret, which I think was off a ZD Fairlane that they made fit.”
The Gal turned up with some custom touches that make it a spicy enchilada for anyone – like yours truly – who likes mild-custom full-size American vehicles. Cronic fitted a pair of Kindig-It Design recessed door handles, plus they made custom engine bay and radiator header panels, and whipped up a pair of custom bumper bars. It was the guys at Calmack Panel & Paint who coated the shell and undercarriage of the battleship-sized Ford in PPG Envirobase Corris Grey. Despite the size of the job, the paint took only six months!
Northside Motor Trimming had a huge job to fill out the Galaxie’s expansive cabin in a way that blended 60s style with contemporary flair. That amazing distressed leather covering the re-foamed stock seats was sourced from Relicate in upstate New York, and is paired with latte-coloured suede and dark brown carpet. The strip speedo was binned in favour of a cluster of modern Dakota Digital electronic gauges, while the Gal runs a Dakota air con system for cool summer cruising.
Once painted and trimmed, it was back to Cronic Customs, where the lads had the not-inconsequential job of fitting the car out in time for its first show.
“It came together quite easily and the Galaxie was ready and waiting before the WA Hot Rod Show & Street Machine Spectacular, where it debuted,” says Adam. “It’s almost signed off for engineering, so we’re just waiting for licensing to come back and approve it, and then we can slap some plates on!”
// Words by Iain Kelly
// Article originally appeared in Street Machine August, 2018