Amid all the uncertainties in automotive history, there exist at least a few undisputed facts. For instance, Ford never built a production line vehicle with its legendary single overhead-camshaft 427 V-8. Not one. That doesn’t, however, mean that Ford didn’t build any SOHC-powered cars, and the 1965 Galaxie 500 coming up for auction may be the last remaining example.
Ford lore has long maintained that Ford itself – not Holman-Moody or Dearborn Steel Tubing or any other outside shop – specially built just two Galaxies powered by the SOHC 427, a version of the FE-series big-block V-8 designed to take on Chrysler’s Hemis in NASCAR competition. The first showed up behind Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1964 for the purview of the motorsports journalists covering the test sessions for that year’s Indy 500.
That appearance – the first public showing of the engine – took place just a few months after Bill France rejected Ford Motor Company’s bid to use the SOHC engines in NASCAR competition, describing the engines as far too exotic for the NASCAR crowd. According to Bill McGuire at Mac’s Motor City Garage, however, Ford brass felt they could persuade France to change his mind, so they authorized continued development of the engine, in part by making it available to drag racers and other speed freaks, in part by showing it off at Indy. Nobody has ever reported seeing that Galaxie again, and France never relented on his stance against the SOHC.
A second SOHC-powered Galaxie appeared a couple years later when Jacques Passino presented astronaut Gordon Cooper with a 1966 Galaxie 500. In addition to the publicity value, Ford reportedly lent the Galaxie to Cooper to evaluate how the SOHC 427 held up under sustained street use. After a year, Cooper returned the Galaxie to Ford; reportedly, he later learned that Ford crushed the car.
In addition to those two, however, Ford built at least one more SOHC Galaxie, according to John Rummel, a Ford FE collector from Fort Worth, Texas. Originally built in Dearborn as a 289-powered car, the Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop (chassis number 5F66M100016) was never intended for sale to the public, Rummel said. Instead, Ford marked it with a District Sales Office number of 87, the code for further internal work. That work apparently included the installation of an M-code dual-quad SOHC 427 and four-speed manual transmission as well as a full 1965 Lincoln Continental front suspension and four-link rear suspension.
From Dearborn the Galaxie then went to Watkins Glen, where Ford kept a garage meant for evaluating certain products. According to Rummel, a Mr. Henderson ran that garage and was charged with disposing any vehicles or engines that Ford didn’t require he send back to them. Except, of course, that never happened with this particular Galaxie.
Instead, as Rummel tells the story, Henderson left the car – along with a few garages worth of SOHC and other FE parts – to his son who, in turn, sold the whole lot to Rummel. The Galaxie, Rummel said, “was in dire need of restoration,” so he had his team spend the next five or six years restoring it and the SOHC 427 now under its hood and documenting the Galaxie as best as they could.
Now, citing age and the lack of anybody to leave his collection to, Rummel has decided to part with his collection, starting with the Galaxie, several other cars, and a couple of engines at the Bonhams Greenwich auction in June. Two of those cars, both 1968 Shelby G.T.350 fastbacks, wear sequential VINs, while Rummel’s engine collection includes a complete 1967 SOHC 427, nearly enough parts to assemble another SOHC 427, and an experimental five-cycle Ford 351 V-8 designed to run on hydrogen.
Rummel’s collection will sell with no reserve. While no pre-auction estimate for the Galaxie has yet to be released, a price sheet for the collection that Rummel circulated late last year lists the Galaxie for $500,000.
The Bonhams Greenwich sale will take place June 2 in conjunction with the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. For more information, visit Bonhams.com.