All events described happened, though some minor sequencing is in question. I used direct quotes as much as possible but even if not exact, they give the flavor. This may be somewhat out of order or incomplete but it conveys what happened.
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I've been into cars since around 14 or 15 years old and loved the old ones more and more as time goes on... Old to me is 60's and 70's era anything, but muscle cars in particular.
I never payed Galaxies much attention and probably would have said that I didn't like them much. However on the morning of 20 August 2010, unbeknownst to me, that was about to change. Galaxies are still not my favorite car, but they have gone way up on the list since the Lord determined that I would be the next caretaker of this particular car.
The old gal has a couple strikes against her. She has four doors and looks like grandma's car. But it's pretty interesting to see the reactions to this car. Most people either don't notice / ignore it or they love it.
I think this car is a pretty rare bird, especially in this condition.
Friday 20 August 2010 - 06:15
While on graveyard I had taken a particular route A home for a long time and at some point switched to route B, which I had used for a considerable amount of time. On the morning of 20 august 2010 I was on my way home from work and for some reason took route A. As I turn the corner off the main drag., I looked to my left to peruse the parking lot on the Northeast corner of the intersection, where many vehicles have been for sale over the years. Sticking out from behind another vehicle, I believe it was an RV, I saw the rear fender of a car which I couldn't make out but was obviously of the vintage I am drawn to...
I pulled around and got myself into the lot next to this car. As I got out "Galaxie 500" was emblazoned on the fender. Of course, the first thing I did was get a gander of the For Sale sign: 36,000 miles, garaged for 35 years and a phone number.
My first reaction is that it has to be 136,000 miles.
I get the number and head home. I give my wife the information, ask her to call the guy and get the basic information, and I go to bed.
While I'm sleeping she calls the number. The guy says he wants $4000 for it. He complains that his phone has been ringing off the hook all day.
Friday 20 August 2010 - 16:00
My wife tells me what the guy told her and we head to my folks to inquire about a loan. We discuss the details and mom writes a check. I call the seller up and arrange to meet him at the car.
As we pull up, there's a Hispanic guy, in his 50's, sitting in a lowered mid 80's shortbox GMC truck with rally wheels. He's on his phone. He complains again that it's been ringing off the hook. He introduces himself as "Teddy".
He immediately starts working me over about the car. He talks fast and furious with a Hispanic accent. I think accents are really cool though I sometimes struggle with them so it is a bit of a chore to follow everything he says. Of course, we open the hood and look at the big block 390 resting in the spacious engine bay. No surprise that it's carbureted but I'm a bit surprised that it's a four barrel. As I peruse the bay Teddy mentions that "Nothing leaks..." as I'm looking at the big damp area around / underneath the power steering hoses...OK.
I ask him if I could drive it. He gives me the keys and gets in the passenger side. I get in the original Palomino Yellow interior. The bench seat is real cushy as the foam has lost all firmness, and I sink about 10 inches into the seat. The odometer reads in the neighborhood of 36,400 miles. Unfortunately I don't recall the exact number and I didn't take a picture of the odometer right away. See photo for mileage on the one year anniversary of purchase. I put the key, which looks to be original, in the ignition and turn it over. It cranks and cranks and she finally fires up. The resonation beneath me is like a symphony of exhaust leaks. It's LOUD and sounds terrible.
Teddy is trying to sell me at every moment. He tells me to look at the back seat, it looks like it "hasn't even been sat in..."
I back 'er up and pull up to make the turn on to the main drag...this is a BIG car! She rides smooth on the whoops and valleys of the road. When I put the brakes on for the first time at speed she pulls pretty hard to the right.
I take a large "block" that will end up back where we started. As we pass a side street on the third leg of the block Teddy tells me that his mom lives "right down there" and that he's got a full set of brand new tires that I can have if I buy the car. She also has a bunch of original documentation. I express strong interest in that and he reaffirms he would get that for me as well. All the while he continues pushing hard selling me on the car, several times he says "I can tell you like her" and various other things...
At one point he tells me that he's not from around here, he lives "in Alaska", so he doesn't know the area.
I turn on the last leg of the block to head back to the location where we started. As I make the turn, the car starts coughing and sputtering and I pull into the turn lane in the middle of the street, where the old girl dies. I look at the gas gauge - 3/4 tank. I crank it a few times and she won't fire. Teddy cranks it for a *long* time and nothing happens. He tries several times. When it still doesn't work we get out of the car and he pops the hood. He goes right over to the clear fuel filter and taps on it a couple times...it's bone dry. Next thing I know he's on his phone to the guy that installed the fuel pump. He tells Teddy that he must have switched the wires on the sending unit so the gauge is reading backwards.
About this time a tow truck heading east, the opposite direction we are, pulls into the center lane behind the Galaxie and asks if we need help. He helps us push the car into a vacant parking lot on the south side of the street and just as suddenly as he appeared he bolts off in his truck.
Before I know it Teddy says he'll be back in a minute, and he takes off walking westward, leaving me with the car. I might as well poke around while he's gone. The new thing I remember noticing is that one of the gas tank straps is off to the side so it is not parallel with the other one but I couldn't tell why. This would become significant in a couple months. After about 10 minutes, all of a sudden this pristine red '64 Malibu pulls in next to the Galaxie. It's Teddy and I'm thinking to myself "Where did you get that!?!". He gets out of the Malibu, pulls out a one gallon gas can and dumps it in the tank. He starts cranking her over. It takes a while to get fuel through 15 feet of fuel line but once it does the old Ford starts right up.
We finish the test drive making it back to the original location, where the wife and kids are waiting.
He says he wants $4000 for the old yellow sedan. We haggle a bit. He says this is his moms car and it's been garaged for 35 years. They drove it for the first years they had it and then didn't drive it much for the last 35 years just taking it out once a month to keep it running. He tells me that he knows what this car is and that he told his mom he could could get $6000 for it and she said "No!, $4000".
Somewhere in the middle of all this I knew that I had to buy this car even if I just sell it. I know I can more than make the money back. Even so, and even though I'm no good at dealing, I try to talk him down anyway. I don't recall what I offered but I'm guessing I tried $3500. He says that he can't come down blah blah blah... We finally make the deal @ $4000. I write a "bill of sale" on the only paper I have and he signs it and writes his phone number down. I cannot read his signature so I still only know him as Teddy. I stupidly give him $300 cash to hold the car. I'm shaking. He says he has to get the title from his cousin in Seattle tonight and can we meet here tomorrow to make the exchange. I think that is kind of odd, but whatever.
Friday 20 August 2010 - 19:00
The wife and I take the kids to get something to eat and and on the way home decide to swing by and look at the car again. As we are pulling into the adjacent parking lot to the north, we see that the hood, trunk and doors are all open and there are about 7 people milling around the car and in the middle is Teddy. I observe for a few minutes. People milling, Teddy on the phone...of course.
After watching for a bit I get out of the car and approach the scene. Suddenly all these people are making a beeline for their cars to leave and my son overhears someone say "Your not going to sell it then?"
Teddy quickly walks over to me and gets all buddy buddy with me... "Hey, how you doing?" he says. "It's OK, they're just family that wanted to look at the car one more time...". Right... He continues to butter me up. We talk for a bit, he closes the car up and jumps in his truck and takes off, the GMC is has a stout V8 under the hood and a sweet exhaust note.
At this point suspicion is building. I decide to follow him. After a couple blocks, I lose track of him and when I get to the next corner, I look around a bit for the truck. No truck but I notice a guy on the porch of a house on the corner. This particular house has a detatched garage. I remember seeing nice 60's muscle cars and the like in said garage for years as far back as I can remember. As I'm looking at the guy on the porch I say something like "There he is!" it was Teddy, and of course he was on his phone. This must be where he got the Malibu from...
Now I don't think I could be more suspicious if I tried. Changing stories, a cherry 64 Malibu, title in Seattle, showing the car to more people and now he's on the porch of this house that I have seen nice rides at for years. There is one more detail about this house, which I will reveal later, that takes the suspicion to a whole 'nother level that I don't, and cannot, realize at this time. I decide to go the cops to cover myself. I want it to be known that if this car turns out to be hot that I at least made an effort to find out. It's after 19:00 so the police station is closed. There is a phone on the outside of the building for public use. I pick it up and describe what is happening. I'm told an officer will meet me there.
After about 10 minutes the Officer pulls up. I describe all the above and my suspicion. He tells me that at this point Teddy hasn't done anything illegal as far as he can tell and to just pay attention and be careful with the transaction.
We head home debating what is really going on here.
Saturday 21 August 2010 - 11:00
While I probably don't sleep much, my dad goes with my wife to meet Teddy and make the exchange of the balance of the cash for the Galaxie and the title. Teddy mentions the people we saw looking at the car last night and says that they offered him $6000 cash for the car. He tells her "I wouldn't do that to you because I'm from around here." Uh, what happened to not knowing the area and being from Alaska? She brings the car home and it is in the driveway when I wake up.
I believe my garage was originally a wood shop and the previous owner added the bay doors later. There are 18" wood shelves around the entire perimeter of the inside of the building. When I get the Galaxie into her new home, I find that I can get her inside and close the door but there literally zero room to walk around the car. I have to remove the shelves from the back or south wall. Once that is done, with the rear bumper of the car touching the wall I have about 18 inches from the front bumper to the closed garage door, just enough to be able to walk through...
Sunday 22 August 2010 - 15:00
I have a friend that I've known for about 18 years and in that time he has bought and sold more than fifty 60's and 70's muscle cars. He is definitely in the know. He is also a cop. I'm still weirding out wondering if I have a hot car on my hands.
After I wake up I give him a call. One, I need to see if he can allay my trepidation. And two, he will definitely want to hear about / see this car. I tell him the story and he tells me that I should just take the title in to the licensing agent tomorrow and make the transfer. If it goes through I'm basically in the clear and it shouldn't be a problem. Then, not surprisingly, he says I need to get up to his place to show him the ride, stat!
The power steering pump is pretty much empty so I fill it up and make the trek up to my buddy's place.
He starts perusing the purported unrestored 36K mile Ford. The more he looks, the more stunned he becomes. He finds things that aren't usually still on a car of this vintage such as the heat wrap on the air injection tube that goes into the exhaust manifold (see photo). There is also the screen in front of the radiator that is still in tact basically in one piece. On the tail light wiring there are small FoMoCo labels still wrapped around the wires. He tells me that when I described the car on the phone he didn't believe it really was what it sounded like. However, upon visual inspection he is convinced that this is in fact a 36,000 original mile car. He wants the car. He tries to convince me to sell it to him but I'm not budging. He would just turn around and sell it anyway... ; )
On the way out of his driveway we notice there is a puddle of what is obviously power steering fluid. At some point, I believe on the trip back, the steering became labored and there was smoke coming out from under the car as the fluid drained out on the exhaust manifold.
At some point later, while inspecting said leak, I find that someone had put what appears to be an original set of keys (see photo) together using a peice of bailing wire as a "key ring". They then proceeded to use electrical tape to wrap the keys to the power steering hose. The bailing wire obviously had rubbed a hole into the power steering hose creating the previously noted gusher. I replaced the hose and all is well, this car steers like butter (?)...
Monday 23 August 2010 - 15:00
Sometime after I wake up I call Teddy to inquire about the documentation and tires he told me I could pick up. I don't have a lot of confidence that he will produce but I think it is really cool when you get original documentation with a car so I give it a shot. The phone rings several times and goes to voice mail. I told him who it was and what I was calling about leaving my number. I leave the message and let it be for now.
I go to the local licensing agent and transfer the title. It isn't a problem and now the car is legally registered to me.
I will register again in the future when acquire a period correct license plate off of eBay. Only the rear plate is required. Washington State calls them "Restored Plates" and you don't have to renew unless you change plates.
Monday 30 August 2010 - 15:00
The documentation and tires slipped my mind since last Monday and today I remembered that Teddy had not called me back. I try the number again, this time the confidence is down to pretty much zero. Several rings and the phone goes to voice mail again. I leave the same message again not expecting a return call...
I never heard from Teddy again.
xx November 2010 - 15:00
I decide to look for a shop that caters to the classic crowd and I find a business card while I'm at a local car show and decide to give them a shot. They do a full inspection / safety check for $85. After the inspection the mechanic says its a survivor. He tells me while inspecting the brakes he found the drum retainer clips from the factory were still there, uh...WOW! Not only that but he took the time to spin them off, save and reinstall them instead of chucking them as is common practice. I think I just found a shop. In fact I'm on a first name basis with them and continue to send them business.
Here are some intersting things found during the inspection, and some that I had already known about...
- There is a valve installed inline with the breather hose that attaches to the valve cover. (since removed, see photos)
- Someone has removed and capped off the mechanical fuel pump and put a Mr Gasket electric fuel pump on this car. Not only that, but they put it in the engine bay! As I find the documentation for the pump online it is stated quite clearly that this is a no no, as in potential boom if gas leaks onto a hot manifold or such. (since removed, see photo)
- There is a second coil and a Transistor Ignition installed. The mechanic took a stab at what it was for but I don't recall what he said. 3. There is rubber hose all the way from the gas tank to the carb. You don't even have to get all the way on the ground to see the hose as it was sagging and hanging down from the behind the frame. (since removed, see photo)
- While the paint seems to be all original, the one exception is the underside of the hood is painted a much more yellow yellow and it appears to be done with a brush! (see photo)
- Someone has done an interesting air cleaner decal fix-em-up job. (see photo)
- Montgomery Ward bias ply tires on the back. (see photo)
- replaced the brakes
- replaced gas tank and all fuel lines
- rebuilt the carburetor
- removed the electric fuel pump and reinstalled a manual fuel pump
- removed the valve from the breather hose
- removed secondary ignition and coil and installed a Pertronix ignition
- replaced the swiss cheese exhaust and glasspacks with a custom 2 1/2 inch system with Flowmaster 2 chamber mufflers
- replaced original single master cylinder with a dual master cylinder
xx November 2010 - 15:00
Not long after getting the Galaxie into her new home I notice that when I go to the garage there is a smell of gasoline. At first I dismiss it as just old car smell but as time goes on it seems particularly strong, more than should be. At that point I start poking around for some kind of leak. When I finally get on my knees and look under the gas tank I see a dark spot on the concrete. It is right under the area where I had noticed the tank strap moved to the side when I was left alone with the car during the test drive. I crawl under for a closer look and it appears someone has put a 2-3 inch diameter blob of epoxy or JB Weld or who-knows-what on the tank in an attempt to plug a hole that is right where the strap should be.
I start hunting for a replacement tank. I call bone yards all around, look online at their sites, eBay...result nothing, nothing and nothing. Nobody has these tanks. I look into getting a reproduction unit. They make repro pieces for 64 Galaxie and earlier, 66 Galaxie and later, nothing for 65. I find that some people on message boards have made, I believe it was a 68 Galaxie tank, work in a 65. I pretty much decided to go that route though I would still like to find an actual 65 part.
When I tell my parents about the tank hunt they ask if I watch Desert Kings on TV. I haven't heard of it. They tell me it is brothers that own a huge bone yard in Arizona but they can't recall the name of it. I look up Desert Kings online and determine the yard is called Desert Valley Auto Parts. I expect nothing but give them a shot. When I called and told them what I was looking for my jaw hit the floor when the guy told me they "have a couple of those".
We spoke for about an hour as I recall. I kept pushing hard asking multiple times "What if it's the wrong one?" He told me they'd take care of me so I rolled the dice and forked over $450 delivered. When it arrives I take it to a local radiator shop to have it cleaned and sealed.
When the shop removed the tank it was determined that the reason the gauge didn't read correctly was that the tank and sending unit was from a 90s Ford Ranger or the like. This equipment does not get along with a 60s era fuel gauge.
01 December 2018
As of this writing on 01 December 2018 the following has been done to this true survivor of a car.