Custom 1961 Ford Galaxie 2 dr coupe
So a few months ago I am perusing the shelves of my local hobby shop when I came across the retro looking AMT 1961 Ford Galaxie box. Suddenly, it’s 1961 again and I am transported back to Richie’s Hobby and Bike shop in Caldwell.
Yeah, I’m 12 years old, it’s a crisp cool Saturday afternoon and I’ve got a brand new 5 dollar bill just burning a hole in my pocket. My buddy Billy Eaton and I just finished raking up all of the leaves in my neighbor’s yards….. and we just split a ten’er…..a ten’er, we hit the big time.
What should I get? A Johan Plymouth? One of those new metalflake molded Revell showcars? Or maybe one of those AMT Styline kits………yeah, one of those, but wait a minute……..those have those glue on custom front and rear extensions and for some reason, I can’t get that new-fangled AMT putty to work very well. I keep wondering to myself, what is the secret to getting a smooth joint? My older brother was telling me I should wet sand it. Wet-sand, what is wet-sanding anyway? What does water have to do with sanding putty? I don’t know. But I’m getting a kit and that’s all that matters! Back in the early sixties, if I had more than one kit in my stash at any given time, I considered myself “golden”.
So I’m looking over all of the kits on the shelf and my eye was drawn to the 1961 Ford Galaxie. Get a load of those crazy dual stacked headlights….yeah, that’s the one.
Well, needless to say, I butchered that one….just like I butchered the Buick and the Pontiac too, and eventually the 1962 Corvette with the wild nose and the glass gullwing fastback roof. Getting smooth putty and an even spray-can paint job was just beyond my grasp back then.
Well fortunately, smooth putty and decent paint jobs no longer have me vexed. So I grabbed that 1961 Ford box off the shelf of F & M hobby and told myself that I was going to rebuild that car from my youth but this time I was going to do it right and make up for the butcher job back then.
So here I am, 53 years later, this is my 1961 Ford “take two” ……..this time, I know I got it right.
Being an original mold from 1961, this kit had no engine, a very simple chassis, screws to hold it together; very simple interior with the seats molded in and metal axles. But it also has the custom front and rear end styling pieces and a set of “3-D” rear fender skirts.
The first thing I did was glue on the front and rear extensions and those rather interesting skirts. Looking at the car in this configuration the stock roof was just screaming to me to be cut off, or at the very least, cut down with a wicked chop. I mean the car was so freaken’ long now from the extensions that something had to be done. Looking around on my work bench I found the last one of a couple of ridiculously crappy resin casting jobs of the roof off of the Boyd Chevoom. I mean, these were crooked, full of air holes, and missing one of the a-pillars……….but as bad as it was, it looked better to me than the stock roof, so with a lot of putty, that was WET-SANDED smooth and good old super glue, this roof found a new home on this Galaxie.
Next, I cut open the doors and the hood. I left the rear custom piece, pretty much as it was designed, except for the molded in license plate recess I added (which needs a plate installed) but the front unit was modified. I changed the lower shape of the headlight pods so that they have a bit more angle from the top and the lower light chrome section is much more visible. The grille was formed from a section of photo-etched mess I had laying around. This was bent four ways to follow the shape of the opening.
The wheels and tires came from the 1962Thunderbird that was finished a few weeks ago. On the side of the car, as I said before, I installed the fender skirts but I also added a molded in set of lake pipes and set them to exit just before the lower part of the rear fender skirt. On the driver side I set in two tunneled sunken antennas which were a styling rage back in that time frame. I added rear view mirrors from a Plymouth Prowler and made the front and rear windows from clear acetate cut to just sit into the openings. The interior is basically stock with just paint to give it accent and the inner door panels just showed up on the workbench one day, so I have no idea where they cam from……..I guess it was magic, they just showed up. The engine is also a mystery to me as to where it came from…….but I don’t care, it has a minimum of detail, and the hood looks better down, so the only reason I opened the hood and installed an engine was because I could……..no heavy detail to it, I added it because every car needs at least one motor…..somewhere in it.
The, well, what I consider the interesting part of the build is the paint, or more accurately, the decals over the paint. I painted the car white like I almost always do, then I topped that with clear gloss mixed with pure white pearl pigment powder. That was airbrushed on and allowed to dry. Then late last summer I got a copy of the SRP magazine, (Street Rodder Premium) and on the back cover was a ad for the PPG Paint, Vibrance Collection paint series. The ad consisted of a photo of an Oldsmobile that was basically stock with a pretty “out there” panel paint job. Well, that picture inspired me and I thought that I could (well, actually my brother could on the computer)……replicate a panel paint job like that using decals. So we photographed the car, scaled the photo in the computer and then using his drawing program designed the panels. I modified the colors a little to the hue that I wanted, but the overall effect is very similar to the car in the ad. Once set, we printed out a set on paper and cut them out and taped them to the car to insure the fit was correct. After a few adjustments, I printed the images on clear decal paper. I sprayed the decal sheet with a light coat of clear lacquer and set it aside to dry. A couple of days later I carefully cut out the decals as close to the lines as I could and installed them on the car over the pearl white. Because the decals were translucent, the pearl “glow” came through the colored area of the decals and intensified the color. Once the decals were dry, I clear coated everything and then lightly sanded it, being ultra-careful not to sand down through the clear and on to the decal, then compounded and waxed the car to get a nice smooth shine.
I love the effect…..I was able to give this car a one of a kind panel paint job without the stress and bother of taping and multiple paint layers…..it is kinda’, one and done. The car is long, and low.
I think the paint fits it perfectly……and that beat-up resin roof came out ok with a lot of putty and new a pillars. And most important to me, I made amends for that poor old 1961 Ford that a 12 year old kid butchered back in the day…………all is well again.