Ford’s big Galaxie first appeared in 1959 as the model line for Ford’s top-of-the-range, full-sized cars. All sorts of Galaxies would appear over time, from high-performance muscle cars down to solid family saloons, but 1959 was a bad year to launch a new model, marking the last convulsions of over-the-top auto design in late-1950s America.
So the six Galaxie models (updated versions of the ageing Fairlane) duly dripped chrome, flashed big fins and came with the inevitable two-tone paint job.
But all that was outdated almost before it hit the street, and the following year the Galaxie underwent major surgery. Out went the fancy stuff and in came a more futuristic look, with Sunliners and Starliners leading the way. They were longer and wider than their predecessors, with a choice of engines and famously smooth ride quality. The styling was restrained compared to previous excesses —featuring a plain grille beneath a sloping bonnet, wings with clean, straight lines and discreet ‘bat-wing’ tailfins.
The Starliner was a two-door pillarless coupe with a trim fastback look and curving rear window. It might have been designed for the racetrack, and indeed performed with distinction in that sphere. Nearly 70,000 Starliners were sold, making this clean-cut machine a reasonable commercial success. The Sunliner convertible version was very pleasing on the eye, with its swoopy styling, selling nearly 45,000.
The following year saw the introduction of a concave grille, a more rounded body and big circular tail lights. But in 1961 Ford rashly restyled the Starliner to create a more conventional coupe, sales bombed and that was that. The Starliner was cancelled for 1962, dragging the Sunliner down with it, even though convertible sales had held up well. This short lifespan and their attractive appearance make Starliners and Sunliners highly collectable today.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1960 (until 1961)
3.7 I (223 cid) Straight Six; 4.8 I (292 cid), 5.8 l (352 cid) or 6.4 I (390 cid) V8
Varied according to engine – typically a top speed of around 100 mph (161 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
After 1966 the Galaxie line was knocked from Ford’s big-model top spot by the LTD, which made its debut as the most expensive Galaxie in 1965 before becoming a separate model in 1967 – the Galaxie was then forced to battle on in second place until the name was dropped in 1974.