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1964 Ford Holman Moody Galaxie: Part 2

Building a Race Car

This started out as a post on “What Are You Working On?”. Since then John Craft has finished his project and then lost it because of flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. 

64sideHolman Moody 1964 Galaxie
Part 2: Building a Race Car

(Go to Part 1)

Before we get into the restoration of this 1964 Holman Moody Galaxie it is important to know how HM actually built these cars. Such knowledge will help the reader understand why restoring a verified historic race car is not as simple as restoring a factory built production car. There are no mail order parts stores to provide authentic NOS parts. A factory body panel is not an immediate replacement for a race car.

Although in 1964 Holman Moody race cars were not built from scratch, the process of converting a production Ford street car into a completed HM spec race car was intensive and laborious. Eventually, the HM build crew resembled a mini-production line. Each car received nearly the same specs and build process. Unlike today, back then, race teams did not have special built race cars for different types of tracks. The same car was used on all tracks whether it be a super speedway, short track, or road course. Each standard production 1964 Galaxie was stripped to its bones, with the body lifted from the chassis, and the body then torn down. The chassis was strengthened by re-welding all the factory welds. The rear frame-rails of the chassis were ‘pinched’ inwards, allowing space for the maximum 8.5 inch wide wheels and increasingly wider tires. Suspension pick-up points were strengthened, as were the suspension parts themselves, including massive upper and lower control arms. Custom made spring perches with jack screw adjusters were fitted. Huge 11” x 3” and 11” x 2” drum brakes were installed, with multiple ventilation holes drilled throughout both the backing plates as well as the drum faces themselves.


1964 was the last year Galaxie road cars were built with rear leaf springs, and the Holman Moody race cars featured lowering blocks to bring the ride height down. Height-adjustable shackles, and a full-floating 9” differential with braced housing running from end to end were used. A small pulley, thought to be a modified Fordson tractor unit, was mounted just forward of the rear axle and aided differential oil temperatures from a trunk mounted cooler.

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The massive Galaxie bodies were strengthened and the rear wheel wells were mini tubbed to make space for the wider wheels and tires. The rear wheel fenders received subtle stretching to provide further tire clearance, and the inner fender lip was removed. To check on tire wear at speed, a common addition to race cars of the day was driver actuated trap door built into the passenger footwell. This allowed the driver to check tread wear on right-front tire while still at speed on the track.

Also added was a cowl induction system that provided cool air from the base of the windshield to the engine bay. The entire factory floor was removed, and replaced with flat sheet metal. The factory transmission tunnel was also removed and replaced with a hand-fabricated a taller one allowing the car to be lower than factory clearances would dictate. The doors were  bolted shut  to prevent them from opening in an accident.


A rigid (for the time) roll cage was fabricated from mild steel tubing, providing strength and rigidity. Additional protective bars were added on the driver’s side between the A and B-pillars. A central bar ran forward of the B-pillar cage section, joining the frame just behind the right front wheel. The 1964 HM cars were far safer than those of a decade earlier, but remained far more dangerous than today’s cars. A race car driver in 1964 was left dangerously exposed, given the speeds of the day.

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Power was provided by a 427 cu.in FE big block V8, fitted with high-riser cylinder heads. These race-only heads featured massive 1.34 x 2.72 inch rectangular intake ports, and required a dedicated high-riser intake manifold. Grand National rules stipulated the use of a single 4-barrel carburettor. Holman Moody used a Holley. A large HM made shroud encompassed the big Holley while also wrapping around the fabricated firewall inlet cowl, providing a ram-air effect of cold air directly into the carburettor. The engine’s bottom end had a cast-iron crank, with heavily baffled wet-sump. In 1964, these 427s could be revved to 7,000rpm and still live. This was impressive for a motor its size and produced around 500 reliable horsepower. The transmission was a Ford top loader four speed. Exhaust gases exited out through factory cast iron “headers” that dumped into 3 inch pipes that passed through tunnels cut into the frame rails on either side, before dumping out just behind each door. A “C” section was cut into the lower bodywork to allow the exhaust to sit up inside the frame-work, rather than below it. This provided better ground clearance for the significantly lowered cars.

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NASCAR rules of the day were a little different from today. Technically, the high-riser motor shouldn’t have been used by Ford teams, as it wasn’t actually available on road cars at the time. But then again, neither was the Hemi motor powering the rival Chrysler team cars.


HM knew how to build a fast race car but what set them apart from their competition was their attention to detail such as fit and finish of all the various seemingly insignificant parts. By example, a small but perfectly shaped “C” plate was fabricated,  and riveted around each exhaust exit to protect the car’s paint; snug fitting plugs were mounted over each headlight hole; plates were mounted for each side marker hole in the front bumper. Plugging up air gaps made the cars just that little slipperier. The fit and finish also made these Galaxies a joy to behold. With such workmanship, actually craftsmanship, it was a shame to see such beautiful machines abused and beat on during a racing.

Weight was always a consideration, but in 1964 there had not yet been a concerted effort to shed every ounce. However, there were special lightweight parts fitted by Ford to 1963 Galaxie models for homologation in drag racing that were not acceptable under NASCAR regulations.

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Holman Moody chassis ‘041’ served as a guest driver car, and potential replacement car for both Lorenzen and Roberts should either wreck their machines. Stock car racing is a contact sport with most cars needing major repairs after every race. For unknown reasons, this Galaxie was painted a magnificent metalflake custom candy tangerine color. It was mixed by custom car legend George Barris! This custom paint consisted of a white base, over which was applied silver, bronze, and gold dust metalflake mixed into the candy, followed by several clear coats. Paint touch-ups must have been a nightmare and created significant additional work for the race team after every race!   

To Be Continued: Click here for “OFF To The Races

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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