1966 Ford Galaxie 500: Yep, It’s Got A Four-Speed!

The 1965 Ford was a big change from the 1960-64s, with pretty much everything new except for engines and transmissions. And this same basic chassis, despite major stylistic changes in 1969, 1971 and 1975, essentially carried on until the fall of 1978 when the Panther-chassis LTD and Marquis appeared.

Quite a run! And while Ford couldn’t quite beat GM in the sales race when it came to full-size, bread and butter cars, they still put out some attractive machines.

But as nice as the 1965 Galaxie 500 and LTD were, Ford only made it more appealing for the 1966 model year.

The biggest change was to the roofline of the two-door hardtop, with this most excellent concave backlight and C-pillars. Wow! Sleek, is it not?

Of course, the flashier hardtop was the most attractive of the full-size Fords, and still looked great, though the line was starting to lose some sales to Ford’s more specialty vehicles, such as the pony car Mustang, intermediate Fairlane and personal-luxury Thunderbird.

One thing lost with the 1965 re-do were those wonderful jet tube taillights seen on the 1964s. While certain 1965 Fords had a round tail lamp element in the rectangular opening, with the debut of the 1966s, even that one small nod to the 1952-59 and 1961-64 rocket taillights was gone with the wind. Despite all that, however, the rectangular units still looked pretty good!

While these pot-metal dealer tags were likely disdained by most folks when these cars were sold new, they add an interesting element to them today, and I enjoy seeing them. I wonder, is the dealer still around?

I enjoy taking detail shots of cars like these because, well, there are so many details! Try that with a late-model car. Although some modern cars are adding little ‘Easter eggs’ to their models, such as Volvo and Buick, with little Tri-Shields or marque logos inset into the headlamps and taillights.

This Galaxie 500 was quite attractively equipped, with its pillarless two-door style, black paint, red interior, the 428 CID V8, “mag-type” wheel covers and whitewalls. But this is not your average bear. No power everything, and…no Cruise-O-Matic. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

The 428 was new to the engine lineup that year, sharing brochure space with the 289, 352, 390 and 427 V8s. The likely 428 in this car is probably the 345-hp Thunderbird Special with a Holley four-barrel carbutetor, though a Police Interceptor version was also available, in 360-hp tune.

Although the Galaxie 500 was no longer the top-of-the-line (the Galaxie 500XL, 7-Litre and LTD were all above it), it was still very upmarket looking, with its pleasant interior, extra chrome trim over the fleet- and cheapskate-special Custom, and attractive wood-grained instrument panel with clock.

Say, what’s that on the floor?

Good golly Miss Molly! It appears to be a floor-mounted manual transmission! I can see this on a Mustang, Falcon or even a Fairlane, but on a big boat like the Galaxie? Interesting.

With the glitzy trim and color combination and 428 under the hood, I suspect someone wanted a bit of fun with their full-sized Ford. This car was very appealing!

Makes you wonder just how many were made like this? It was the first 1965-66 full-sized Ford I had ever seen with a floor-mounted manual transmission. What a rare bird! It was a pleasure to see at the Classy Chassy cruise-in in Coralville, Iowa. Way back in 2014!

Time flies. And so does this Ford, I bet.

13 Replies to “1966 Ford Galaxie 500: Yep, It’s Got A Four-Speed!”

  1. John C.

    The original owner ordered interestingly, if this is how the car was originally built. If you were going to order the four speed with a big engine, a more free reving 427 would seem more logical than a 428. Also ordering the floorshift without the buckets, console and tach.

    I think I would have preferred the much more common 289 with the cruiseomatic. Finally Ford had a competitive small V8 that could leverage the advantage in automatics. Good enough to make Chevy think about THM for the smaller engines and make Plymouth replace the poly 318 with the more competitive LA 318. Even little AMC had a nice small V8 and through Borg Warner was able to get a Ford style transmission. Good times.

    • stingray65

      If I remember correctly, the 427 was a much more expensive option than the 428, and hence much rarer and reserved for only the well heeled racer types willing to put up with lumpy idle and seriously bad fuel economy. The problem for Ford in this era is that the had nothing with very good performance between the 289 and the 427/28, as the Y-Block 352 and 390 were basically boat anchors and couldn’t run with a Chevy 327 or 396 even when disadvantages with a powerglide. The video link has some very interesting vintage drag races.

      • John C.

        I was thinking of the AC428. The English Ace chassis with an Italian Frua body and a 428 instead of a 427 in the Cobra. Even in a car like that, they were built almost entirely with automatics.
        The video was great. If Jack watches it, he will no longer be pining for Ford to bring back the Excursion to pull his big trailer, but rather Chevy to bring back the Corvan. You make a valid point about the gaps in the Ford engine line at the time. Not sure Carrol Shelby could have made much of an impression with a Shelby 352. I could be pessimistic, the y block V8 lasted into the 80s in Brazil with this Ford body and we know from Obama how full of toxic machismo Latin America is.

  2. -Nate

    A sweet car to be sure .

    I remember when the 65’s came out, those taillights were amazing .

    I’d love to give this car a workout .


  3. Stephen

    Lander Wy. Would not have thought they were big enough for a dealership. In 65, they probably had to order almost everything

  4. ArBee

    I just love the 1965-67 big Fords, and the ’66 is my favorite. Black with red suits this Galaxie hardtop perfectly. I agree with John C. about the 289/Cruise-O-Matic combination. My father and my brother both had ’67 Galaxie sedans with that powertrain, and those cars were quite eager on the road, without the thirst of the bigger engines. When Dad and I brought home his ’67 from Kilmarnock, Virginia back to Richmond in September 1966, I took the wheel for a spell and was surprised how smoothly the 289 spooled the big Ford up to 70 mph. (Good thing we didn’t hit a speed trap because I was underage, but things were very different out in the country in those days.) Also, a teacher in high school owned a ’66 hardtop, but in maroon with black upholstery. Gorgeous.

    • -Nate

      Those old Fords were *very* quiet and often ran hot ~ replacing the restrictive exhausts and adding a crossover helped greatly .

      Agreed they looked great ~ Larry Harris bought a new full size Ford wagon in 1967, I loved it .

      He was a maintenance man and bought it instead of a pickup truck like most rural men did back then .


  5. Greg Hamilton

    Great pictures. Beautiful car especially being a pillarless hardtop with a four speed and bordello red interior. I always liked these old American cars with the bench seat in the front. You could always convince a cute girl to sit in the front next to you while your friend riding shotgun would also have a smile on his face. I’m sure this sounded great at idle and even better when you opened her up. Did these have some type of posi-traction or was that an option?

  6. Michael Craven

    Thanks for this enjoyable snapshot, Tom. While mid-60s automobile technology, from a performance, safety and comfort standpoint, has been completely eclipsed, the exterior and interior styling still appeals a half century later. Personally, the 66 Mercury Parklane is a favourite but a well-appointed and equipped Galaxie is a desirable machine as well.

  7. Sobro

    I had the poverty spec doppelganger of this car- a 1966 Falcon two-door, black with red interior, three on the tree, mighty 170 ci engine. Those reds and blacks take me back to a simpler time when air conditioning was via vent windows and you could attach any accessory you wanted under the metal dash. In my case, it was a CB radio and Craig Powerplay cassette deck.

  8. JustPassinThru

    Regarding the four/floor. Our family boat became a 1968 Galaxie 500, after the Rambler crumbled into dangerous rust. I was ten years old, and just developing interest in cars….and I read the owner’s manual, cover to cover.

    Ford did advertise/discuss the four-speed floor shift in full-size Fords. Since the stripper Customs would have been the natural home of three-on-the-tree, I guess the sporty-leaning XLs would have been the place to look for floor-shifting.

    Never saw a one in the wild, not then, not since, but they were at least in the options catalog.


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