The story, as told by the owner, Bill Sacramone
The cars that we have a fixation on are as varied as the individuals in the classic car hobby.
Sure everyone wants the GT Mustang, the ’67 GTO convertible with a 389 and trips, and who doesn’t want a late 60’s or early 70′ Chevelle SS.
But most people won’t admit that their brain fixates on a long-forgotten car that holds a special place in their heart and mind. For me, that car was (is) a 1959 Ford Galaxie. Why? Because when I got my driver’s license my Dad had a 1959 Ford Fairlane 300 4-door sedan and that was the first car I drove on a date to the Drive-In theatre.
Of course in my mind, the car would be a retractable hardtop or a convertible.
In the fall of 1995 I found this 1959 Ford Galaxie convertible in a barn in northeast Connecticut. The frame and body were solid, all the sheet metal was in place and very useable. The only serious problem was that all old convertibles have a rotten floor.
The owner, Ron Soyden, had already collected a huge stockpile of parts including an Arizona floor pan from a 2-door hardtop. It was a done deal and the car was pulled from the barn and moved to its temporary headquarters at our storage garage in Oxford, MA.
For the next 2-1/2 years Doreen and I went to every major and minor automotive flea market in the northeast. A 59 Galaxie is not like a Mustang or a Chevelle. You can’t open a book and buy all the new parts you need to do a resto. All major parts needed to be found and collected.
In the mean time the engine went to Cheney Vo-Tech High School in Manchester, CT and under the watchful eye of Automotive Instructor and fellow club member Dick Denault the FE block 352 cid engine was torn down and meticulously rebuilt from the ground up.
New valves, bearings, cam, pistons, rods, water pump, flywheel, and detail painting were done. In addition, the motor was bored .030″ over to ensure a good rebuild. The finished motor became part of the school’s parent’s night were all the kids get to show off their hard work. I can’t thank them or Dick enough because the engine has performed flawlessly so far.
A whole bunch of great big “ATTA BOYZ” to Cheney Tech. Many thanks to Lead Instructor Dick Denault and the students of Cheney Tech for the masterful job of rebuilding the 352 engine.
When the basic resto parts were finally collected and enough was available to start the project we searched long and hard to find a builder who matched our needs and financial schedule. At this point the project was two years old and I needed some slack in the money spending department. We found Dave Croteau of DC Restorations in Uxbridge, MA who was, at the time, service manager for Chabot Motors, the Worcester Jaguar dealer. He did restoration jobs in his home shop after hours and Dave is a Ford man at heart. He told us that we could agree on a fixed schedule of jobs based on how much money was available, do that much work, then go from there. On several occasions our car was rolled out of the shop while we accumulated additional funds or searched for needed parts. It was an arrangement that would serve both of us well during the 2-1/2 years Dave had the car.
First up was getting the car body separated from the chassis. Then Dave had to fabricate a new floor pan. Notice that the area were the new floor pan is cut out. A hardtop doesn’t have the X crossover support that a convertible does. So the new floorpan was cut out to let the X member show through. Next the “hump” was cut from the old convertible floorpan and the two were welded to make a perfect convertible floorpan.
But I didn’t stop there. As nice as a 59 Galaxie convertible is, its hard to keep things stock. Sometimes the battle over custom and stock produces a rolling Rube Goldberg. To avoid this I had one of the parts cars – a red two door hardtop chopped up and made into a custom cruise trailer.
This trailer makes the 59 a head turner wherever it goes. There are a lot of anal retentive classic car people who publicly scorn the trailer. I’ve even been refused entry to some shows. Other shows have given me such a hard time about taking up two spaces that I just leave and go somewhere else.
Many people, it seems have lost their sense of humor and have relegated their sense of fun to some dark and lonely place. To bad for them…