It Works With a Ford Galaxie, Too.
After I did the Plymouth NASCAR conversion I looked around to see what other bodies I had lying around that the Pioneer Charger chassis would fit. It didn’t take long for me to come up with another idea.
A little-known part of motorsports history is the Ford Galaxies sent to England in 1963 to race in the British Touring Car Championship. These cars were powered by Ford’s new 427 cubic inch V8 engine and Ford was committed to racing of all kinds as part of its Total Performance program. The BTCC at the time was dominated by Jaguar sedans, or “saloons” as the Brits called them. The Galaxies, of course, were huge compared to the Jaguars, not to mention the Minis that made up a large part of the BTCC grid. You would have thought, almost, that a Mini could fit into a Galaxie’s trunk. Not surprisingly, the Fords were not the most nimble cars in the corners, especially in the wet, but on a dry track once you got one pointed down a straightaway and dropped the hammer you were simply gone. These racing Galaxies benefited from an extensive weight reduction program that included fiberglass body panels, aluminum cylinder heads, deletion of everything not needed for racing, and even a lighter frame. They were prepared for road racing by Ford’s prime NASCAR car builder Holman and Moody, which equipped them with disc brakes, among many other uprated components.
British saloon racing ace Jack Sears won the 1963 BTCC driving a Galaxie and a Ford Cortina, making shrewd choices between the Galaxie’s power and the Cortina’s handling, depending on the track he was racing on. Galaxies continued to win races in the UK and Europe until they were replaced in Ford’s program by the lighter but still powerful Mustang.
That bit of history came to my mind when I test-fitted a Pioneer Charger chassis to a Monogram 63 Ford NASCAR body in the red and white colors of the Wood Brothers. The Charger chassis is a millimeter or two short for the Galaxie body but when properly positioned in relation to the wheel openings it’s not obvious.
The procedure for adapting the chassis to the body is the same as with the Plymouth GTX, except that the front edge of the chassis has to be cut back all the way to the body mounts and rounded somewhat to fit the internal contour of the front bumper. You do have to remove some structure from the inside of the bumper assembly to allow the front body posts to be relocated farther outboard. At the rear, however, the body mounts are a near-perfect match for the Galaxie’s body posts. All you have to do is slot the screw holes in the chassis slightly forward.
You will need to remove some material from the lower rear edge of the interior tub to clear the motor and from the lower front center of the tub to clear the plug housing on the hatch for the plug-in digital chip. You don’t even need to remove the tub from the body to do this. If you are going to use the chip for digital racing the front of the tub will require more material to be cut away.
I fitted the car with American Racing Equipment 5-spoke mag wheels and stock tires from a Pioneer Mustang. Some Galaxies raced with 5-spokes back in the day and several now are fitted with them for vintage racing.
The lightweight Galaxies came from Ford painted only in white. Individual customers added other colors to the livery as they saw fit, typically just racing stripes of one arrangement or another but sometimes a more extensive repaint. I decided to simply modify the original Wood Brothers livery to make the car look more like a BTCC entry. All I had to do, really, was to remove the “410 HP” lettering from the hood, the driver’s name from the doors, and the big racing number from the roof. All that’s needed to do it is a wet rag and rubbing compound. Be careful, though, not to rub through the paint to the white plastic below, as it does show. After the markings are removed use fine polishing compound and a coat of wax to make everything nice and glossy again.
Removing the topside markings left the car plain white on top and red on the sides with racing numbers, a few contingency decals, and a sponsor, appropriately enough called “English Motors”. The model really does capture the character of a big, thundering, American sedan blasting its way around Goodwood, Snetterton, or Oulton Park with Jaguars and Minis trailing in its wake in a triumph of brute force over finesse. And like the Plymouth this is a conversion you can easily do in one day or less.
Copyright © 2014 Robert M. Ward