"Norristown Ford" 1963 1/2 lightweight Galaxie was one of the "production"
lightweights assembled at the Norfolk, Virginia plant on April 25
1963. It was shipped by rail and truck to the dealership of record,
Norristown Ford in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The car arrived with
a truck load of Falcons, station wagons and Thunderbirds being delivered
to the dealer. The
dealer sponsored race team was to be Rich LaMont (engines/tuning)
Dick Gehris (drive train) and Larry Bloomer (driver). Ford documentation
lists the lightweight Galaxies as being equipped with fibreglass doors,
however the Norristown Ford and most of the other "production" cars
did not get them due to a shortage. Early modifications to the car
included a Hurst shifter, Belanger Brothers headers and Traction master
traction bars. Super Stock rules limited the car to a seven inch wide
"cheater" slick rear tire which meant that the tire must show some
amount of tread (usually two grooves around the tire).
to history widely printed in American car magazines, which states
that the lightweight Galaxies were not competitive and won no National
events in 63 (there were just two national events then) the Norristown
Ford and many others like it were winning weekly on drag strips all
across the U.S.
Norristown Ford won it's class; Super Stock ten straight weeks and
scored many Top Stock Eliminator victories.
times were normally in the mid to low twelve second range at about
115 mph. The car also set an NHRA Super Stock mile per hour record
the end of it's racing career the Norristown Ford broke into the eleven-second
was eventually replaced by a 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt and sat behind
the dealership into early 1965. Following the Thunderbolt being wrecked
in a racing accident the drive train was bolted into the old Galaxie
which was painted Rangoon red and sold as a used car.
buyer raced the car on the street and eventually blew the engine.
While sitting at a local shop, awaiting repair the car was repossessed
by the bank for non-payment of the loan. The history of the car becomes
somewhat cloudy at this point but it appears that someone else owned
and raced the car for a period of time. Twenty-two years ago the car
was discovered in a junkyard in Cecil County Maryland by Jerry Cook.
Recognising what the old Galaxie was Jerry bought it and took it home
in order to restore it for nostalgia drag racing. The project was
never completed and in 2001 Rich LaMont authenticated the car for
me and I purchased it from Jerry. After thirty-seven years the Norristown
Ford was back home.
car has been restored to appear as it did in 1963 with the exception
of ladder bar rear suspension. It is powered by a Rich La Mont prepared
427 with Edelbrock aluminium medium riser heads re-worked by Ram Racing.
TRW pistons, Eagle H-beam connecting rods and a Ford steel crankshaft
make up the rotating assembly. A tunnel wedge intake manifold mounts
two original Holley carburettors. A .700 lift roller cam and roller
stabilised rocker arms complete the valve train. Ignition is by MSD.
The rear carries a 4.86 spool with 33-spline Strange EGR axles in
a nodular iron case. A Len Tech Automatic Overdrive transmission adapted
to the FE will be used for the first year's competition, after which
it will be replaced by a four speed. For the 2003 racing season the
Norristown Ford lightweight Galaxie will join the now restored Norristown
Ford Thunderbolt and the other cars of the 422 Motorsports Nostalgia
Drag Racing team of Oaks, Pennsylvania (click
here for web page).