Sunday, September 17

A powerful V8 engine is installed.

The inexpensive full-size automobile reigned supreme in the Detroit auto industry in the middle of the 1960s. During that period, Chevrolet sold well over a million Biscayne, Bel Airs, and Impalas annually. Ford wasn’t too far behind in sales of its range of large, luxurious vehicles. In 1966, the full-sized Ford range in the United States began with the barebones Custom and Custom 500 at the bottom, followed by the Galaxie 500 one step above, and finally, the flashy LTD at the tip pinnacle of the giant Ford pyramid. The Galaxie 500 was the model that sold the most units out of the four options, and sales were roughly divided in the same proportion between the sporty two-door fastback and the practical four-door post sedan. One of those automobiles was found not too long ago in a yard where customers serve themselves just south of Denver.

A family owns this yard, and it has an intriguing collection of classic automobiles in the pull-parts-yourself section and a storage lot that is off-limits to the general public. Sometimes, they may auction off surplus inventory from their private-reserve area to create a way for more intriguing things. The items sold at these auctions will typically be acquired by other junkyards and added to their component inventories. On other occasions, they will transfer a few exotic automobiles into the standard parts-yanking yard. A good dozen of them have just appeared there, including the Mustang II and Mercury Montego MX Brougham that you can see flanking today’s Junkyard Gem in the photo that is located above, in addition to a 1959 Studebaker Lark VIII, a 1965 Chevrolet Biscayne with a six-cylinder and three-on-the-tree manual, a big-block ’71 Impala coupe, and some other cars that I’ll share later on in this post.

This vehicle’s starting price on the dealer’s lot was $2,784, equivalent to around $26,425 in 2023 dollars. Because this specific example includes several pricey add-ons, as seen in the following paragraphs, the final cost was undoubtedly far higher.

First and foremost, this 352-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) big-block “Interceptor” V8 engine has a horsepower rating of 250. This engine is a part of the legendary FE family, including the more well-known 390, 427, and 428 machines. These engines were put into the wilder Mustangs and muscle cars.

The 352 was first introduced in 1958 and was used for the last time in 1967 F-Series trucks. Yes, I did purchase this logo to hang on the wall of my garage.

If you wanted to spend more for more power that year, Dearborn had plenty of options for you to choose from. Except for the most luxurious models, the standard engine in all 1966 full-size Fords was a 240-cubic-inch straight-six rated at 140 horsepower. There were V8s available with displacements of 289, 390, 427, and 428 cubic inches, and the power ratings ranged up to 425 horsepower (that twin-four-barrel 427 Cobra had insane-for-the-time 11.1:1 compression and a drag race-grade lumpy cam, and it turned out to be a stalling, overheating nightmare in ordinary stop-and-go driving).

This automobile also comes equipped with the optional three-speed automatic gearbox, which increased the price by $184 (about $1,746 in today’s dollars). The typical three-speed column-shift manual gearbox was standard in the lowest trim versions of the Galaxie 500, such as in this particular example automobile. Although, in truth, a helpful dealer probably could have negotiated a custom order with any engine/transmission combination that Ford offered, to have a four-on-the-floor manual gearbox in a 1966 Galaxie, you were required to purchase the 315-horsepower 390 or a more significant engine with it.

A Montgomery Ward Riverside, “Supreme” air conditioning unit seems to have been installed in this vehicle, even though the original cost of factory air conditioning was $353 (or $3,351 when adjusted for inflation).

According to the build tag, this automobile was put together in the Los Angeles Assembly plant in Pico Rivera on April 1st, 1966, and then it was sold via the Denver sales office. Metallic Medium Sage Gold is the outside hue, while gold is used for the inside. Interestingly, Northrop purchased Los Angeles Assembly in 1982 and (covertly) utilized the location to develop the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber; the site is now a commercial mall.

It would seem that it has been exposed to the elements of the High Plains for at least several decades now, sitting outdoors. The cabin is trashed, but the outside has a few scratches and isn’t rusted through completely.

The danger of leaving a vehicle outside for an extended period in this area is that rats will get inside, chew up the upholstery to provide nesting material, and then cover the surface with layers of feces that are inches deep and carry the risk of hantavirus. Although I’ve seen far worse, the inside of this automobile is filthy.

The rat poison didn’t have a very long shelf life.

Even the original owner’s manual was damaged by the creatures’ chewing.


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