Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is. It was the Autumn of 1965, and at that time Pontiac’s hot-selling GTO heavily influenced the performance car market. Intermediate-sized cars with big-block power were the hot ticket. Ford was about to introduce the 390 powered Fairlane GT and GTA, which was thoroughly re-designed, to satisfy that slice of the market. However, Ford was also about to introduce a new full-sized bruiser for the 1966 model year. Let’s take a look at the Ford’s full-size muscle, the Galaxie 500 7 Litre.
People who were buying performance still wanted creature comforts like power steering and air conditioning. Ford’s high performance 427 engine was not available with these conveniences, but the new 428 was. The 428 still developed a respectable 345hp at 4,600 rpm and 462-lbs.ft. of torque at a rather low 2,800 rpm. The engine used a single four-barrel carburetor and 10.5:1 compression ratio, along with hydraulic lifters and the standard FE-series two-bolt-main engine block. When equipped with things like hydraulic lifters, it had better street manners, making it more suitable for everyday driving. Ford’s success in promoting its quiet cars had been very successful and there was no reason to end a good thing.
The differences between the brutal Ford 427-cu.in. V-8 and the refined Ford 428-cu.in. V-8 are indeed quite remarkable. They are both great Ford engines, but the short-stroke 427 performed near the tachometer’s redline while the long-stroke 428 delivered mountains of torque. The former lived for the competition at the dragstrip and on NASCAR’s tracks while the latter was in its element cruising on the highway.
Most Ford 7 Litre cars came equipped with the 428. However, a handful of 7-Litre buyers optioned up the 11.1-compression, solid-lifter 427-cu.in. engine: Just 36 hardtops and two convertibles so equipped left Ford’s factories, sans power steering, power brakes or air conditioning. Ford technically made both the W-code 410hp four-barrel and R-code 425hp dual-quad versions of the 427 optional in the 7 Litre, but just one 7 Litre had the R-code version, along with a couple 7 Litres fitted with the 657hp SOHC dual-quad version of the 427, available only as an over-the-counter upgrade.
The 7 Litre was available as a 2-door hardtop or convertible only. The interior was identical to the XL series except for the 7 Litre badge located on the glove box door. (Some 7 Litre models got the Galaxie 500 nameplate on the glove box door.) The exterior was clean of chrome, adding to the fresh look of the car. 7 Litre nameplates were found on the front fenders, grill, and trunk lid.
Standard features on 7 Litres included the 428 engine, bucket seats, a console, dual exhaust, power-assisted front disc brakes and the beefy C6 automatic transmission, and a four-speed could replace the C6 at no charge.The only engine option on the 7 Litre was the aforementioned 427. For some reason Ford priced the 7 Litre $500 higher than a comparably equipped XL, which did not help 7 Litre sales.
The 428 resided on the option sheets of every full-size Ford during this period, and the subtle identifying characteristics of an actual Ford 7 Litre tend to prove too subtle for casual scrutiny. But, armed with the right information, anybody can spot the details that separate a true 7 Litre from any well-optioned full-size Ford.
The performance market was leaving big-block-powered, full-sized cars behind in favor of the intermediates and at year’s end sales of the 7 Litre totaled a disappointing 11,073 (8705 hardtops and 2368 convertibles). For 1967 Ford built just 855 XL two-door hardtops and a mere 213 XL convertibles with the 7 Litre Sports Package. The 7 Litre name disappeared completely in 1968.
It’s not like I really need to ask this, but do you think that a Ford Galaxie 500 7 Litre is one of those obscure, full-sized muscle cars that belongs in the Garage, or is it just a cruiser that belongs only at a car show? Remember, 345 HP isn’t all that bad, but if you find one with the 410 HP 427, that’s true muscle. Debate!
All Images Courtesy of the 7 Litre Website