David Newhardt, courtesy of Mecum Auctions
  • One of 50 Galaxie Lightweights built in 1964; one of the first built
  • One of 25 built with an automatic transmission (from the factory with an HX tranny used in Thunderbolts)
  • Class winner at the 1966 NASCAR Winternationals at Daytona
  • Concours restoration completed in November 2017
  • Correct 427/425-hp V8 engine and carburetors
  • Correct dual-range HX automatic transmission and RCI bellhousing
  • Formerly part of the Rick Kirk Ford Lightweight Collection
  • Raced by Cobble and Bolland out of Pennsylvania, later raced by “Crazy Nate” Cohen

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight
Years Produced:1964
Number Produced:50
Original List Price:$4,150 (auto trans)
SCM Valuation:$159,500
Tune Up Cost:$150 (estimate)
Chassis Number Location:Left inner fender/data tag in driver’s door jamb
Engine Number Location:Block at left rear just above oil pan
Alternatives:1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 409, 1965 Dodge Hemi Coronet, 1963 Pontiac Catalina Super Duty
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 107, sold for $121,000, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s auction in Louisville, KY, on September 21, 2019.

The “Total Performance” era at Ford began on June 11, 1962, when Henry Ford II announced the company was withdrawing from the Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on factory-sponsored racing.

Like Chrysler and General Motors, Ford had been stepping around the self-imposed treaty for years, spiriting high-performance parts out the back door to various builders. After the public announcement, letters were soon on their way to dealers telling them how to order performance parts, sponsor local racers and generally court the young enthusiast market.

Factory lightweights

Major drag-racing teams had always built their own cars, but there were many small teams competing at local strips that could help spread the Ford performance message, so factory-built lightweight dragsters emerged. In ’62, Ford produced a small batch of lightweight Galaxies — 11 in total — powered by 406-ci engines. Fiberglass body panels, aluminum bumpers and deletion of comfort items cut weight by about 100 pounds.

Beginning in 1963, Ford’s performance efforts evolved around its new 427-ci big block. Offered in both 410-hp single 4-barrel Q-code and dual-quad R-code 425-hp guises, the new mill and new aero-friendly ’63½ Galaxie fastback were winners on NASCAR tracks.

For the ’63 turn-key racers, the same fiberglass/aluminum approach was used in addition to using a lighter-weight chassis. All seam sealers, sound deadening and carpets were deleted, reducing overall weight by about 300 pounds. Two hundred and twelve were produced with a $4,100 list price — about $1,400 more than a standard fastback.

In early ’64, Ford announced the availability of lightweight Galaxies with an updated high-rise 427 engine. A bulletin sent to district offices gave order codes, wholesale prices ($3,950 for sticks, $4,150 for automatics) and a not-too-subtle reminder… “This car is a maximum performance vehicle and should only be sold to the knowing customer who understands the warranty implications if the car is used in competitive events.”

Because the ’64 body weighed 150 pounds less than the ’63, fiberglass was limited to the hood. Batteries were relocated to the trunk. All were Wimbledon White with red interiors.

With the anticipation that lightweight Fairlane Thunderbolts would be more competitive against intermediate competitors, Ford limited Galaxie lightweight production to 50 units, evenly split between 4-speeds and automatics. Their performance was respectable, with low-12-second quarter miles and speeds of 110–120 mph.

White lightning

Restored just two years ago, our subject car shows limited use and looks fresh, with a finish well above factory standards.

The fiberglass hood fits well. The stock dash has the correct radio and heater blanking plates, and the reproduction interior is well fitted. Under the hood are correct factory finishes, OEM hoses and unusually hard plastic ducts instead of the usually seen flex hoses. No mention is made of it being numbers matching, but being a drag racer, I’m not sure anyone would expect that. As a class winner at the NHRA Winternationals, the car does have significant racing history, but the brief auction description didn’t provide additional history or how much of it is original.

A fair buy

This $121,000 sale is well below the ACC Pocket Price Guide median of $159,500. Recently, sales seem to have settled into the $120k–$150k range, which seems right for a real-deal low-production race car. In 2018, the subject car was part of a collection offered at Mecum Indy. It went unsold with a high bid of $105k, while a sister car brought $126,500 (ACC# 6869973).

The outlier seems to be the sale of a similar-condition automatic that sold for $170,000 at Mecum’s 2014 Kissimmee sale. That same car failed to sell the year before at their Monterey sale at $175,000 (ACC# 230733).

The ACC Pocket Price Guide has a common listing for both the ’63 and ’64 Lightweights, and despite the difference in production numbers (212 vs. 50), the earlier cars, likely due to their more exotic construction (i.e. more fiberglass and aluminum) bring the same price as the ’64s.

At the 2019 Mecum Kissimmee sale, a ’63 brought $121k (ACC# 6894979). In 2015, Mecum sold an unrestored #3 condition ’63 Lightweight with plenty of patina from its competition days for $70,200 (ACC# 265337), which was in line with the ACC price guide value of $50k–$80k at that time. The high-value model among the Ford factory drag cars is the 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt, numbering 100, with an ACC current median value of $239,500.

Although the sale price of this example is in line with the market, given its condition (rated a 2+ by an ACC Auction Analyst in 2018), I’d call this one well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)