This is the last of a multi-part series on the history and reconstruction of an important Holman-Moody stock car. John Craft, the restoration magician on this 1964 Ford Galaxie, is the restorer of this car and source of all information and photos for this series. If you don’t know John he has been in the Ford race car camp for many years and even did a fabulous recreation of the Wood Brothers’ Cale Yarborugh race car. Although his most recent project is not one of the Aero Cars it is part of the heritage that eventually brought NASCAR into the new era. The following conclusion to our multi-part article was provided by John and we thank him enthusiastically not only for the information up but also for the restoration of this piece of Ford and Holman-Moody race history. As a footnote, the 1964 Ford Galaxie covered in this article was a total loss from damages suffered in Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
At the end of 1966 the Galaxie was only three years old but never raced again. The Holman Moody chassis 041 was stripped of its valuable parts and the remainder dumped in a cow pasture in Wirtz, Virginia.
The once glorious Galaxie spent the next 45 years sitting in that very same spot, slowly being reclaimed by mother-nature. When originally retired, the old Holman Moody machine was merely an outdated race car suffering from various repairs required because of its multiple accidents. The Galaxie had hit a concrete hard on both ends on several occasions. One such event at Rockingham in 1966 shortened its rear by several inches.
As the decades rolled on, the Galaxie sank further into that Virginia cow pasture. However, interest and values of old NASCAR and USAC cars rose as the interest in NASCAR grew. In 2012, the old Holman Moody ‘041’ car was finally dragged from its long-time resting place by NASCAR historian, author, enthusiast, and part-time car restorer John Craft.
John had already owned a few vintage NASCAR race cars, including the famed Fred Lorenzen #28 1965 Daytona 500 winner. His true passion is the history of Holman Moody. He was not looking specifically for a 1964 Holman Moody car, but this Galaxie found him.
“I saw the car pictured in a thread on the Randy Ayer’s Modeler’s forum site,”, explains John, “in a discussion about ‘what happened to the cars’”.
The thread was on the subject of missing stock cars, and John’s attention was drawn to a pair of photos. One was of a heavily eroded 1964 Galaxie sitting in a pasture with a tree growing up through the engine bay. The other was of a Holman Moody VIN tag belonging to the car.
John sent the poster a personal message. The next thing John knew he was on his way to VA. On inspecting the car, John found traces of the various paint jobs the Galaxie received during its brief career, including the original metalflake candy tangerine under black and white.
Most of us would be discouraged by what he found and the sheer scale at the task ahead, but John could only see the diamond in the rough. Its condition was so poor that the body shell had begun collapsing in on itself. John suggests that this is likely due to the claim Holman Moody had used acid dipping techniques as part of their post-Daytona weight-loss program. Normal factory steel should not have deteriorated to that extent.
Although the chassis had been stripped years ago and as bad as it looked, there were still many salvageable parts, including the all-important Holman Moody aluminium VIN plate, some suspension. These and other key pieces that would ultimately help in the car’s restoration. In addition, some of the rare important hand fabricated items unique to the 1964 cars provided clues to producing exacting replicas.
There was another reason John wasn’t scared off by the site of what sat in that Virginia cow pasture. Of the 24 or so Galaxies built by Holman Moody in 1964, this was the only known survivor in 1964 trim. There is another, but it is one of the 1964 Holman-Moody cars run by Banjo Matthews and driven by A. J. Foyt and Junior Johnson. It has also survived, but was converted into a 1963 car for display at the Joe Weatherly Museum. It has been painted to honour Fireball Roberts’ Wisteria #22. This car survived the years well, and, fortunately for John, was largely kept as a 1964 car beneath the skin, which proved vital in restoring his chassis 041.
The body was too far gone to even contemplate restoring. It is highly questionable how much of the original Holman Moody sheet metal still adorned the car when it was pushed into that paddock in 1966.
Because 1964 Grand National cars were built from actual road cars and not simply body panels hung on a tube-frame as became the standard within a few years, John went out and purchased a complete solid Arizona 1964 Galaxie donor. To be authentic, John could not just place the new body on the Holman Moody chassis. A huge amount of fabrication was required first. This is where John’s years of research, thousands of period photos, and the Fireball Roberts 1963 tribute car all came into play.
While the Fireball car provided important information beneath the skin, such as the trunk layout, underside, and cockpit, John’s extensive photo collection helped in providing detail on the various subtle body modifications, such as the rear fender flares, and a myriad of fabricated plates and covers.
Of course, the car had no engine when found. John needed to source another. His goal was to accurately rebuild the car as it rolled out of the Holman Moody workshop in 1964. He did not want to improve upon their efforts. Accuracy was key. On eBay, he found a set of NOS high-riser heads, still in their factory box and including Ford shim gaskets. Following a valve job, these were fitted with Ferrea stainless steel valves. John also found a correct NASCAR high-rise intake manifold, which he topped with a Holley 750 cfm double pumper. A 427 short-block assembly, including a steel crank, was obtained. JE pistons filled the bores, with an eventual compression ratio of 12:1, and around 500 horsepower.
The firewall on the Galaxie had survived well enough that John could replicate the cowl-induction and save the aluminium heater block-off plate. John also made the various other modifications to the body, including the transmission tunnel, passenger foot well trap door, and exhaust cut-outs behind the doors. The list was extensive. The roll cage was also correctly replicated. John also correctly replicated the differential cooler. Among his various period pieces were a correct set of original steel wheels, with the double-skinned centres. These were wrapped in beautiful Firestone bias-ply tires which perfectly complete the correct period look.
This car was originally painted an exotic metalflake candy mix that wasn’t simply something John could order off the shelf. Much research was required, examining old photos and experimenting. The trouble with old photos is they were of average quality when taken due to the limitations of the cameras also because the images all aged differently, and fade differently, offering up multiple variations. The final paint color the Galaxie was sprayed was impressively accurate to the original. The interior and underside were all squirted in the correct matt black.
In 1964, sign painting was relatively simple, but painfully laborious. Cars weren’t wrapped with giant computer generated stickers like many of today’s race cars. Virtually everything, from the race number, manufacturer branding, and even smaller logos, were painted by hand. It was a beautiful form of artistry that is largely lost in today’s world. He employed the services of Buz McKim, renowned artist, and NASCAR Hall of Fame historian to hand letter the car. The end result was quite stunning, and the perfect, correct finish to this very correct and car.
John went on to show the car in AACA (Antique Auto Club of America) winning some of their highest recognitions. He enjoyed the car immensely but, unfortunately; the car was destroyed in the Texas Hurricane Harvey. Today, he has moved on to a new project we will unveil at another time.