SIZE MATTERS

MALCOLM IS A PRO TOURING NIALL’S GIGANTIC MASTERPIECE ’66 GALAXIE BUILT TOUGH IN WEST AUSTRALIA

STORY IAIN KELLY

FORD’S full-size Galaxie is an American icon, having served as police cars, family trucksters, cabs, and even race cars powered by the thundering 427ci big-block. Along with taking scalps in the NHRA, Galaxies were used by Ford to take NASCAR glory in mid-60s with drivers like Fred Lorenzen. So how come we don’t see more killer Gals being built like Malcolm Niall’s epic ’66?

Built by Cronic Customs, the big-hipped West Aussie coupe boasts super-smooth paint and panel, pro-touring suspension and a sweet quad-cam Coyote five-litre injected V8.

Malcolm bought the car in Melbourne as an American import, thinking that the Coyote V8 he already had would be a good fit. Adam Spiteri from Cronic Custom recalls: “Initially, the Galaxie was just like so many other cars, as it was only going to be an engine conversion, making it a tidy streeter. But it snowballed.”

THE CRONIC CUSTOMS-BUILT COUPE BOASTS SUPER-SMOOTH PAINT AND PANEL, PRO-TOURING SUSPENSION AND A SWEET QUAD-CAM V8

The Cronic crew cut out the stock strut towers and binned the old drag link and steering box. In went a TCI double-wishbone cradle and power-assisted steering rack, which connects to a Flaming River column. That made life far easier when trying to fit the bulky quad-cam Coyote into the Gal.

“Older Fords normally have strut towers in them, so the double-wishbone front end opens the engine bay right up, giving heaps of room for exhausts,” Adam explains. “TCI doesn’t actually do a front end to suit a Galaxie, so you have to cut the front chassis rails and graft them in. We found a front end with similar style and track width – I think it was a 60s Mustang – which we made work in the full-size model.”

The Cronic lads set the new crossmember and Viking coil-over to give a radical slammed stance that doesn’t require complex air suspension. It did, however, require fabricating a complete new transmission tunnel.

“We made a new tunnel and raised it four inches, as this allows a much lower ride height,” Adam says. “Malcolm’s car is six to seven inches lower than a factory model.”

The pro touring-style front end has been matched to a custom rear end wearing a bespoke four-link set-up. It features boxed control arms that have been through the dimple-die machine and located by a custom Panhard bar. A sheet-metal Strange Engineering nodular nine-inch diff is hung underneath, chock full of 31-spline axles and a 3.5:1 Truetrac centre.

The stock 5.0-litre Coyote donk won’t trouble such a heavy-duty diff set-up, even with a factory 343kW (460hp) out of the crate. It runs off a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, which also runs the twin Aeroflow pumps in the new custom stainless fuel tank that lives under the boot floor. Oversized half-inch fuel hardlines future-proof any plans Malcolm might have to throw a pump or turbo onto the motor, while the Cronic Customs crew made up a set of custom 17 /8-inch spaghetti isn’t headers to ensure the deep-breathing mill strangled.

THE GAL’ S CUSTOM TOUCHES MAKE IT A SPICY ENCHILADA FOR ANYONE WHO LIKES MILD-CUSTOM FULL-SIZE AMERICAN CARS

Adam and his team also had to fabricate a new oil pan to clear the new crossmember and steering set-up, while they chucked on a Quick Time bellhousing on the back to adapt a GM TH400 three-speed auto to the back of the Blue Oval motor.

“Most of the cars we do have TH400s or ’Glides in them, but originally, we were going to build a Ford C4. However, TH400s are a lot stronger and it’s a heavy car,” Adam explains. “Plus, by the time we would have built a C4 we could have paid for a solid

TH400, and we wanted to be 100 per cent confident in it. We could have also fitted a modern six-speed auto, but it drives so nicely with the TH400.”

Once the Cronic guys had the entire engineering package sorted out, they pulled the car apart and sent it off to be painted and trimmed. This was the point where traditional American panel-beating techniques reared their ugly heads.

“The Galaxie was a typical American car,” Adam says. “It was neat and looked pretty tidy from a distance, but under the glossy paint it had rust and bog there. Calmack Panel & Paint actually ended up having to fit a new turret, which I think was off a ZD Fairlane that they made fit.”

The Gal turned up with some custom touches that make it a spicy enchilada for anyone – like yours truly – who likes mildcustom full-size American vehicles. Cronic fitted a pair of Kindig-It Design recessed door handles, plus they made custom engine bay and radiator header panels, and whipped up a pair of custom bumper bars.

It was the guys at Calmack Panel & Paint who coated the shell and undercarriage of the battleship-sized Ford in PPG Envirobase Corris Grey. Despite the size of the job, the paint took only six months!

FOR S ALMOST LICENSING SIGNED TO APPROVE OFF FOR IT, ENGINEERING; THEN WE CAN WE’ SLAP RE SOME JUST WAITING PLATES ON IT’

Northside Motor Trimming had job to fill out the Galaxie’s expansive cabin in a way that blended 60s style with contemporary flair. That amazing distressed leather covering the re-foamed stock seats was sourced from Relicate in upstate New York, and is paired with latte-coloured suede and dark brown carpet. The strip speedo was binned in favour of a cluster of modern Dakota Digital electronic gauges, while the Gal runs a Dakota air con system for cool summer cruising.

MALCOLM NIALL 1966 FORD GALAXIE

Colour: PPG Corris Grey

ENGINE

Type: Ford Coyote

Capacity: 302ci

ECU: Haltech Elite 2500

Intake: Custom

Fuel system: Custom rails, x2 Aeroflow in-tank pumps

Cooling: PWR radiator

Oil system: Custom sump

Accessory drive: March serpentine

Exhaust: Custom headers, 3in system, Magnaflow mufflers

TRANSMISSION

’Box: Protrans Turbo 400 auto, Quick Time bellhousing

Converter: Allfast 3000rpm

Diff: Strange sheet-metal 9in, Truetrac LSD, 31-spline axles, 3.5:1 final drive

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Springs & shocks: Viking coil-overs (f & r)

Chassis: TCI double wishbone front end, TCI drop spindles, Flaming River column, TCI power steering rack, custom four-link with Panhard bar

Brakes: Wilwood four-piston disc brakes (f & r); Wilwood master cylinder

WHEELS & TYRES

Wheels: Showwheels SW3; 19x8 (f), 20x10 (r)

Tyres: Achilles; 225/40 (f), 275/30 (r)

THANKS

Cronic Customs; CPP; Northside

Motor Trimming; Class A Auto

Electrical; Mick’s Machining,

Des’s Steelworks; Elite Autoglass;

Any Tow Towing; Direct Blast

Once painted and trimmed, it was back to Cronic Customs, where the lads had the not-inconsequential job of fitting the car out time for its first show.

“It came together quite easily and the Galaxie was ready and waiting before the WA Hot Rod Show & Street Machine Spectacular, where it debuted,” says Adam. “It’s almost signed off for engineering, so we’re just waiting for licensing to come back plates and approve on!” s it, and then we can slap some Piates on