This article on Malcolm's Galaxie was originally published in the August 2018 issue of Street Machine magazine
FORD’S full-size Galaxie is an American icon, having served as police cars, family trucksters, cabs, and even race cars powered by the thundering 427ci big-block. Along with taking scalps in the NHRA, Galaxies were used by Ford to take NASCAR glory in the mid-60s with drivers like Fred Lorenzen. So how come we don’t see more killer Gals being built like Malcolm Niall’s epic ’66?
The absence of chrome trim, a ground-hugging stance and modern engine in an iconic Yankee car means this Gal would look at home cruising fairgrounds at a Goodguys event. “Malcolm loves Ridler and SEMA-style builds, so we took a lot of inspiration from that,” says Adam
Built by Cronic Customs, the big-hipped West Aussie coupe boasts super-smooth paint and panel, pro-touring suspension and a sweet quad-cam Coyote five-litre injected V8.
Malcolm bought the car in Melbourne as an American import, thinking that the Coyote V8 he already had would be a good fit. Adam Spiteri from Cronic Custom recalls: “Initially, the Galaxie was just like so many other cars, as it was only going to be an engine conversion, making it a tidy streeter. But it snowballed.”
Cronic Customs couldn’t find an off-the-shelf front-end upgrade kit for a ‘65-‘66 Galaxie, so they thought laterally. Looking at cars with a close match to the Gal’s track width, the Cronic dudes realised TCI’s Mustang double wishbone front-end conversion kit would work, even though they didn’t need to delete strut towers like Mustang and mid-size Ford owners do.
The custom-finished 19x8 and 20x10 Showwheels SW3 billets hide a quartet of Wilwood 300mm disc brakes. Adam and Malcolm added bronze detailing to the wheel lips to match the grille, which they thought might be controversial, but the response from everyone at the show was positive, according to Adam
The Cronic lads set the new crossmember and Viking coil-over suspension in the chassis to give a radical slammed stance that doesn’t require complex air suspension. It did, however, require fabricating a complete new transmission tunnel.
Cronic made the custom front bumper with the large central opening, and whipped up the CNC-machined honeycomb grille that replaces the stock horizontal item used on factory ’66 Galaxies
“We made a new tunnel and raised it four inches, as this allows a much lower ride height,” Adam says. “Malcolm’s car is six to seven inches lower than a factory model.”
The pro touring-style front end has been matched to a custom rear end wearing a bespoke four-link set-up. It features boxed control arms that have been through the dimple-die machine and located by a custom Panhard bar. A sheet-metal Strange Engineering nodular nine-inch diff is hung underneath, chock full of 31-spline axles and a 3.5:1 Truetrac centre.
The stock 5.0-litre Coyote donk won’t trouble such a heavy-duty diff set-up, even with a factory 343kW (460hp) out of the crate. It runs off a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, which also runs the twin Aeroflow pumps in the new custom stainless fuel tank that lives under the boot floor. Oversized half-inch fuel hardlines future-proof any plans Malcolm might have to throw a pump or turbo onto the motor, while the Cronic Customs crew made up a set of custom 17/8-inch spaghetti headers to ensure the deep-breathing mill isn’t strangled.
Adam and his team also had to fabricate a new oil pan to clear the new crossmember and steering set-up, while they chucked on a Quick Time bellhousing on the back to adapt a GM TH400 three-speed auto to the back of the Blue Oval motor.
The firewall has been smoothed out and the Lokar dipstick for the TH400 auto sits centre-stage. A PWR radiator lives beneath the custom cowl panel on the front, with the sides of the motor hidden by cover panels that Adam and the Cronic crew whipped up. They used a March serpentine accessory drive system to turn the belts on the front of the Coyote
“Most of the cars we do have TH400s or ’Glides in them, but originally, we were going to build a Ford C4. However, TH400s are a lot stronger and it’s a heavy car,” Adam explains. “Plus, by the time we would have built a C4 we could have paid for a solid TH400, and we wanted to be 100 per cent confident in it. We could have also fitted a modern six-speed auto, but it drives so nicely with the TH400.”
Once the Cronic guys had the entire engineering package sorted out, they pulled the car apart and sent it off to be painted and trimmed. This was the point where traditional American panel-beating techniques reared their ugly heads.
“The Galaxie was a typical American car,” Adam says. “It was neat and looked pretty tidy from a distance, but under the glossy paint it had rust and bog there. Calmack Panel & Paint actually ended up having to fit a new turret, which I think was off a ZD Fairlane that they made fit.”
A twin 3in exhaust system snakes its way under the Ford – no mean feat given the coupe’s super-slammed stance. Viking coil-over struts have been used at all four corners, while Cronic chose to reinforce the four-link control arms used in the rear
The Gal turned up with some custom touches that make it a spicy enchilada for anyone – like yours truly – who likes mild-custom full-size American vehicles. Cronic fitted a pair of Kindig-It Design recessed door handles, plus they made custom engine bay and radiator header panels, and whipped up a pair of custom bumper bars. It was the guys at Calmack Panel & Paint who coated the shell and undercarriage of the battleship-sized Ford in PPG Envirobase Corris Grey. Despite the size of the job, the paint took only six months!
Engine vitals are displayed on a Dakota Digital gauge cluster or on the air-con display sitting just to the right, while Malcolm will spin a Billet Specialties tiller and pick gears on the Flaming River column shifter. Tunes are provided by a comprehensive Alpine sound system, installed by Class A Auto Electrical
Northside Motor Trimming had a huge job to fill out the Galaxie’s expansive cabin in a way that blended 60s style with contemporary flair. That amazing distressed leather covering the re-foamed stock seats was sourced from Relicate in upstate New York, and is paired with latte-coloured suede and dark brown carpet. The strip speedo was binned in favour of a cluster of modern Dakota Digital electronic gauges, while the Gal runs a Dakota air con system for cool summer cruising.
Northside Motor Trimming had its work cut out covering a big cabin like the Galaxie’s. Custom seatbelts have been added to ensure the car is legal for six-up cruising, with the factory seats re-trimmed with custom foams and distressed leather brought in from America
Once painted and trimmed, it was back to Cronic Customs, where the lads had the not-inconsequential job of fitting the car out in time for its first show.
“It came together quite easily and the Galaxie was ready and waiting before the WA Hot Rod Show & Street Machine Spectacular, where it debuted,” says Adam. “It’s almost signed off for engineering, so we’re just waiting for licensing to come back and approve it, and then we can slap some plates on!”
1966 FORD GALAXIE
Colour: PPG Corris Grey
Type: Ford Coyote
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Fuel system: Custom rails, x2 Aeroflow in-tank pumps
Cooling: PWR radiator
Oil system: Custom sump
Accessory drive: March serpentine
Exhaust: Custom headers, 3in system, Magnaflow mufflers
’Box: Protrans Turbo 400 auto, Quick Time bellhousing
Converter: Allfast 3000rpm
Diff: Strange sheet-metal 9in, Truetrac LSD, 31-spline axles, 3.5:1 final drive
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs & shocks: Viking coil-overs (f & r)
Chassis: TCI double wishbone front end, TCI drop spindles, Flaming River column, TCI power steering rack, custom four-link with Panhard bar
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston disc brakes (f & r); Wilwood master cylinder
WHEELS & TYRES
Wheels: Showwheels SW3; 19x8 (f), 20x10 (r)
Tyres: Achilles; 225/40 (f), 275/30 (r)