Leon Hallett’s home-built 1963 Ford Galaxie is the latest entry to join a massive 39-car grid for the Historic Muscle and Saloon cars, set to headline this year’s Taupo Historic Grand Prix.
Hailing from Dunedin, Hallett’s 1963 Galaxie seems the most unlikely of circuit racing cars.
The Galaxie was especially popular in the early age of NASCAR before proving to be a race winner in the British Saloon Car Championship.
A championship that had been dominated by the growl of Jaguar for the past five seasons, Ford arrived on the scene in 1963 not expecting to be competitive against their British rivals.
However, armed with the 1958 series champion Jack Sears and Sir Gawaine Baillie, the Galaxie’s put an end to Jaguar’s crushing supremacy by claiming pole and the race win in the debut outing at Silverstone.
With Ford quickly usurping Jaguar as the manufacturer to be with, Jim Clark, Sir Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney each put their hand up to pilot the Galaxie.
Car-builders Hollman-Moody had fitted the Galaxies with fibreglass front fenders, inner fenders, bonnet and boot, as well as bumpers made from Dural, to minimise weight.
The FIA homologated the 1963 Galaxie at 1589 kilograms. They were also homologated with disc front brakes. While they invariably ran with drums in all four corners, the Willment team developed first Bendix, and then Girling, front discs.
The wheels were the same 15×8 steel items used in NASCAR, with double centres to prevent the nuts and studs being pulled through.
Galaxie’s stranglehold was as brief as it was incredible. But soon Ford had developed its new Mustang and the Galaxie soon faded from the top-tier racing scene.
Still, the Galaxie would go on to clinch one final race win when Australian driver Brian ‘Yogi’ Muir managed to defy the odds at Goodwood in 1966.
Hallett will be muscling his Galaxie around Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park against a fiercely competitive line-up.
The Historic Muscle and Saloon car championship has already enticed the likes of countless Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts, Sean McCaughan in the famous 1966 Fleetwood Mustang and Paul Berkahn in the 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint Rallye.
There will be a mix of scratch and handicap races across the weekend, which is scheduled to kick off with practice on Friday, January 22.
Other classic and historical classes on show will be the New Zealand Formula 5000 series, Formula Juniors and Sports Cars predating 1970.