FACTORY HEAVYWEIGHT – LAURIE BLACKSHAW 1964 FORD GALAXIE

The Super Stock and A/FX battles in America during the 1960s were legendary, but little of that action ever filtered through to Australia. Down under, the not-quite-so-big three were more content fighting it out at Bathurst and paid little attention to what was happening a quarter mile at a time.

Whilst the release of the Pontiac GTO in 1964 spawned a decade of high performance compacts, the early sixties was all putting big engines into full size sedans. Chevrolet installed a small number of 409s into its 1961 Impala, by 1963 they were offering 427 cubic inch versions (dubbed Z-11) to selected racers. Chrysler released its Max Wedge 413 in ’62, it swelled to 426 cubic inches and ultimately evolved into the mighty 426 Hemi. Ford and Mercury were by no means left on the sidelines, in fact some believe they inadvertently created the first Super Stock racer when they released the 1960 Starliner with a 352 FE motor outfitted with a solid cam, 10.6:1 compression and heavy duty parts. In 1961 the displacement grew to 390 cubic inches, then 406 a year later.

By 1963 Super Stock racing was big business and like their competitors, Ford was turning out factory lightweights, void of sound deadening and unnecessary trim and fitted with aluminium and fibreglass components. By now the FE motor had been stretched to 427 cubic inches and was conservatively rated at 450 horsepower. In the hands of racers like Gas Ronda, Bill Lawton and Butch Leal, the Galaxie lightweights were formidable components. In 1964 Ford devotees moved to smaller, lighter models like the Fairlane ‘Thunderbolt’, whilst the 427 Galaxies better served as powerful luxury cruisers.

Laurie Blackshaw’s first car was a 1960 Ford Ranchwagon hearse, so it’s clear that he doesn’t mind owning cool cars with a twist. At age 42 he’s shared his garage with all manner of marques, including a 1963 Ford Galaxie sedan which inspired his more recent search for a two door hardtop of the same era. Laurie found this 1964 model in Long Beach, California, and took a leap of faith in purchasing it from the photos and shipping it to Brisbane. “It was better than I expected,” he confessed, obviously relieved, although he did manage to blow up the suspect 460 within the first 100 miles.

The Galaxie had a lot going for it, the paint and much of the interior trim is as you see here, although it wasn’t equipped with the Super Stock stance. Laurie raised the front, rebuilt the suspension and added the Wilwood brakes and pedal box. He’s trialled a few sets of wheels including Daisy mags and black steelies, but the current combination of 15” white steel rims and black wall tyres really set the theme. They’re fitted with BF Goodrich T/A radials, 215/70 and 275/60, as all classic muscle cars should be.

A good friend Chris Jackson, aka Jacko, tore down the stroked 460, rebuilding it with a SCAT crank and H Beam rods, forged pistons, Crower solid cam and Edelbrock Victor Junior heads. A matching Victor intake and Holley 850 carb lay beneath the dual snorkel intake. Laurie removed the inside pair of headlights and ran ducting to feed cool air straight into the airbox. The Thunderbolt hood scoop and speed equipment decals adorning the side glass leave little doubt about the coupe’s ancestry.

The excitement continues with a bullnose Top Loader four speed, custom twin plate clutch and a lightened flywheel. The obligatory 9 inch is fitted with 3.7 gears and 31 spline axles. A set of Cal Tracs had already been fitted to eliminate deadly axle tramp.

The red interior is a striking contrast to the white exterior but appropriate for the era. A split bench seat resided where buckets now sit, Laurie found that sliding the seat forward caused the shifter to interfere with the bench. A visit to the scrap yard scored him two buckets from an AU Falcon which were cut down to suit. Laurie did upgrade the shifter, adding a new Hurst. Vinyl is used on the floor instead of carpet and a large Mallory tach and a trio of Autometer gauges are the only other deviations from stock.

Laurie hails from Toowoomba and tries to get out in the Galaxie at least once a month. On top of that he and his family (Robyn, Sam and Tenisha) enjoy an annual trip to Coolangatta every June for what is now the Cooly Rocks On nostalgia festival. “It’s great to be around people with the same interests,” says Laurie, “lots of people like the car, they get what it’s about.” Laurie also wanted to credit Mark at Demon Mechanical at nearby Currumbin for sorting out some clutch problems they had during a recent Coolangatta vacation. “He’s got me back on track a couple of times now so we can keep enjoying our holiday.”

We asked Laurie what else he had about. “Robyn still has her ’62 Chevy pickup, it’s got a 428 Ford Cobra Jet motor in it, but we’ve also got photos of it drag racing in 1969 with a Chevy 409 and four speed.”

Like we said, cool with a twist!

BY GAVIN KELSO, PHOTOS BY DANIEL WARD. FULL FEATURE CRUZIN MAGAZINE #157.

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