Winnipeg Free Press

Galaxie 500 XL put Ford on racing map

by Larry D'Argis . Aug 23 2019
Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressLinden Johnson shows off his 1963 Galaxie 500 XL Club Victoria. He bought the car in Kelowna and had it shipped to Manitoba.

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Linden Johnson shows off his 1963 Galaxie 500 XL Club Victoria. He bought the car in Kelowna and had it shipped to Manitoba.

By mid-1959, Ford was re-evaluating its participation in the Automobile Manufacturers Association racing ban. The 1957 ban was to eliminate factory-supported race teams in NASCAR racing events in favour of individual teams. Ford found most teams were still accessing factory support through the back door of their competitors and felt Ford’s participation in the ban was only benefiting the other manufacturers.

Later that year, Ford introduced the new 1960 lineup and extended factory support back to the race teams flying the Ford flag.

New high-performance engines made their debut along with a new fastback Galaxie model named Starliner. The new roof proved very effective in aerodynamics on the high-banked oval tracks. The model would continue for 1961 and engine size and horsepower increased with the new 390 cubic inch Thunderbird Special V-8s.

With the introduction of the 1962 models, Ford included a new Galaxie 500 XL model. The XL was the sporty series and featured a centre console with floor shift and front bucket seats, along with XL badging on the exterior. The XL package, which stands for Xtra-Lively, was available on the two-door Club Victoria hardtop and the two-door Sunliner convertible.

For 1963, the XL model was expanded to also include the four-door Town Victoria hardtop and the new-for-’63 two-door Fastback Coupe. Sales for the XL model doubled in ’63 and Ford was fully invested back into all forms of racing with the new mantra of “Total Performance.”

For Linden Johnson of Ashern, his 1963 Galaxie 500 XL Club Victoria is a reminder of previous days as a youngster growing up in Vogar.

At 16, back in 1969, Johnson had a ’63 Galaxie 500 XL Fastback and his highway travels would often raise the eyebrows of the local constabulary.

“I liked to drive fast and the old Galaxie would just float down the highway,” Johnson says.

With many years and cars in between, Johnson relocated to Winnipeg and helped found the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba in 1994. One of the founding directors and the club’s first president, Johnson stays in the loop and in the car scene.

Johnson found his latest 1963 Galaxie 500 XL hardtop for sale online in Vernon, B.C. Its 83-year-old owner said the American-built car received a full frame-off restoration in 2003 and had only been driven a few hundred miles since its completion. Johnson felt the car was well worth the asking price, purchased it and had it shipped to its new home in Manitoba.

Finished in cranberry metallic, it’s a rich looking full-size vehicle. Inside, there’s the XL bucket seats, centre console with floor shift and a black interior. Options include a Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, power seat, AM radio and tinted glass. There is also a trio gauge package under the dash that houses AutoMeter oil, amp and temperature gauges. The original temperature gauge location now houses an 8,000-r.p.m. tachometer.

Under the hood is the Z code 390-cubic-inch Thunderbird V-8. Featuring a Holley four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, it produces 300 horsepower at 4,600 r.p.m. Since purchasing the car, Johnson has added an Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold, 600-cfm Holley carburetor, MSD electronic ignition system and Cobra LeMans finned aluminum valve covers.

Rolling stock has been upgraded from the wide whitewall radials and factory full wheelcovers, to a set of 15-inch Torque Thrust five-spoke chrome wheels, with tri-bar spinners turning Cooper Cobra radial tires.

The whole package works well and its appearance carries massive curb appeal.

Johnson and his wife, Adeline, have lived in Ashern since 2009, where they own and operate Lindy’s Furnitureland. Despite their thriving business, they have still managed to log some much-enjoyed miles on their Galaxie XL.

The 25th Annual Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba Flashback Weekend is quickly approaching. It all starts with a Friday night sock hop social at the Transcona Country Club on Sept. 6, featuring a live band and silent auction in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.

A classic car cruise to the Half Moon Drive In in Lockport is set for Sept. 8 and the club presents Manitoba’s largest free car show at the Garden City Shopping Centre on Sept. 9.

For complete details check out, or call the club hotline at 204-453-FORD.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press