In ’62 Ford was selling its line as “America’s liveliest, most carefree cars.” And leading the lively look was the bright-as-a-button new Galaxie. This was General Manager Lee Iacocca’s third year at the helm, and he was pitching for the young-guy market with speed and muscle. Clean-cut, sleek, and low, the Galaxie line was just what the boys wanted, and it drove Ford into a new era.
The new-for-’62 500XL was a real piece, with bucket seats, floor shift, a machine-turned instrument panel, and the option of a brutish 406cid V8. XL stood for “extra lively,” making the 500 one of the first cars to kick off Ford’s new Total Performance sales campaign. The 500XL Sunliner Convertible was billed as a sporty ragtop and cost an eminently reasonable $3,350.
Engines were mighty, rising from 292 through 390 to 406cid V8s, with a Borg-Warner stick-shift four-speed option. Ford learned an important lesson from this car. Those big, in-yer-face engines clothed in large, luxurious bodies would become seriously hip.
The slab-sided Galaxie body was completely new for ’62 and would set something of a styling trend for larger cars. Lines may have been flat and unadorned, but buyers could choose from 13 colors and 21 jaunty two-tones.
The dashboard was padded and colormatched the exterior.
Front seat belts were an option.
Fiberglass “blankets” insulated the roof.
Unlike this example, the rarest Sunliners had a wind-evading Starlift hardtop, which was not on the options list.
The arrow-straight side flash is a far cry from the florid sweepspears that adorned most Fifties models.
“This year, more than ever before, Galaxie styling is the envy of the industry.” Subjective sales literature maybe, but Ford’s restyled Galaxies were a real success, and the new XL series offered peak performance plus the top trim level of the 500.
The interior was plush and palatial, with Mylar-trimmed, deep-pleated buckets flanking the center console. Seats could be adjusted four ways manually and six ways electronically.
The fuel filler-cap lurks behind the central hinged section of the anodized beauty panel. The panel itself highlights the car’s width. The hardtop version of the 500XL Sunliner was the Club Victoria, $250 cheaper than the convertible and twice as popular, with 28,000 manufactured in ’62.
Large, round, rear-light cluster copied the T-Bird and appeared on the Falcon as well as the Fairlane, also debuting in 1962.
The Galaxies of ’62 marked Ford boss Lee Iacocca’s first sortie into the performance-obsessed youth market, which two years later would blossom into the legendary Mustang. It was an inspired marketing gamble that took Ford products through the Sixties with huge success in both showrooms and on the racetrack.
The spotlight mirror was a factory option; on a clear night, the light could emit a beam ½ mile (800 meters) ahead.
In ’62 all Fords had self-adjusting brakes, 6,000-mile (9,660-km) lube intervals, and life-of-the-car transmission fluid.
The Galaxie had an especially quiet ride because it was soundproofed at various points. Sound-absorbent mastic was applied to the inside surfaces of the doors, hood, trunk lid, fenders, and quarter panels.
Stock Galaxies lumbered around with a 223cid six or 292cid V8. The 500XL could choose from a range of Thunderbird V8s that included the 390cid Special, as here, and a 405 bhp 406cid V8 with triple Holley carbs, which could be ordered for $379.
Chassis was made up of wide-contoured frame with double-channel side rails.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Ford Galaxie 500XL Sunliner Convertible (1962)
PRODUCTION 13,183 (1962)
BODY STYLE Two-door convertible.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body and chassis.
ENGINES 292cid, 352cid, 390cid, 406cid V8s.
POWER OUTPUT 170–405 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed Cruise-Omatic automatic, optional four-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Front: coil springs; Rear: leaf springs.
BRAKES Front and rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 108–140 mph (174–225 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 7.6–14.2 sec
A.F.C. 16–18 mpg (5.7–6.4 km/l)