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Ford : 1959 Galaxie
As the automotive world hit 1959, it was beginning to shake itself out of the doldrums of the so-called Eisenhower recession that hit the auto industry particularly badly. Car sales, in some instances, plummeted 50 percent or more on some models and even the more successful models felt the sting.
That's why Ford came out with one of its more innovative models in 1959, the Galaxie (for whatever reason, they didn't spell Galaxy correctly, but it did make it stand out, didn't it?) and when it hit the market, it was just what buyers were demanding.
Essentially, Ford's marketing team, seeing the success of the squarish Ford Thunderbird, decided to see if they could use the same greenhouse design in their more standard offerings and the Galaxie was the result. Known as the "squarebird" roofline, the formal hardtop met with almost instant approval as they did with a vehicle that was smaller than others on the market as it was built on a 118-inch wheelbase.
Although it was built on a smaller wheelbase, the engineering team made it look and feel larger by designing in a good strong frame. The interior became bigger and, believe it or not, the engineering team began toying with some unit body construction ideas by moving the siderails further apart for more interior room. The buying public ate it up (we were familiar with a certain black and gold 59 Galaxie with a small V-8 that had a few ring seal problems – we used more oil than gas on a 3,000-mile motor trip, but that's another story) as they did the slight engine detuning that took place at the same time to increase fuel economy (the recession had many results, including the demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars that helped VW leap to almost instant stardom).
From an engineering standpoint, the new Galaxies featured better handling thanks to a new front stabilizer bar. They also improved ride quality and with a link-type, variable rate rear suspension although the handling could have been improved.
The engineering team also used aluminized mufflers for the first time and stretched the oil change interval to 4,000 miles, an industry first. Another industry first was the use of a high-luster, enameled paint that was never supposed to need waxing. The public responded to all of these changes with good sales for a recession year at 464,000 units moved.
The 1959 Galaxie – the intentionally spelled the name wrong – solidly established the "T-bird look" and was head and shoulder above the quality of the 1957 and 58 Ford models. If you look closely at the lines, in fact, you can see they look pretty much like the 1957 Fairlane, except they made the first use of the quad headlight concept. The four headlights were nicely fared into the front fenders and the front end was clean, except for a chromed grille. The hoodline itself was simple and plain and yet bent around to meet the top of the grille work. The front end and also featured three small Ford logos, one each mounted on the fenders and the other dead center in the front of the hood itself.
The designers of the Galaxie also had some interesting ideas about what to do to make the sides unique as the fender line swept up to the taillights and the rear end culminated in to small horizontal wings. The rear wheel wells were nicely fared into the rear quarters and the rear end did, believe it or not have a finished look.