1961 Ford Galaxie Skyliner Convertible
If you want to get noticed, few cars will do it better than a vintage convertible with tailfins.
The Sunliner was the top-of-the-line Galaxie, Ford’s entry into the near-luxury market with a dash of performance thrown in to boot. Its sister car, the Starliner coupe, was indeed an impressive performer on race tracks of the period, establishing Ford’s dominance of 1960s NASCAR. With a wide array of engines and options, the Galaxie could be configured to almost any owner’s specific tastes, although it seems that a vast majority of America liked their big V8s and comfortable riding suspensions combined with the carefree use of an automatic transmission and power steering.
This 1961 Galaxie Sunliner convertible is a great example of full-sized top-down motoring in the early ‘60s. Big (but not too big) and comfortable, with plenty of performance from the X-code 352 cubic inch V8 under the hood, it was the kind of car you could drive every day and still look forward to the commute to work each morning. Restored as needed over the course of its life, it has apparently never been rusty or in need of a full frame-off restoration, and presents today as a tidy, clean, stylish convertible that is perhaps more subtle than a ‘50s luxury cruiser, but with a lot more class than a garden-variety Mustang. If you want to get noticed, few cars will do it better than a vintage convertible with tailfins.
The code Q Silver Gray paint is a great contrast to all the bright red and plain white ragtops of the period, and it is this car’s original color. It was repainted in the ‘90s and still looks great, as it has been part of a large collection for the better part of the last 15 years and seldom driven. There is no sign of major rust or damage, and isn’t so perfect that you’re going to sweat the small stuff. Believe me, the best cars to drive are those where you won’t worry about rain or road rash, and this car looks great at the same time. The doors fit well with no sagging, the large hood doesn’t wiggle, and panel alignment is probably what you got from the factory in 1961. The Sunliner included the bright trim behind the rear wheels, and in 1961, Ford went back to the round taillight treatment, giving this car a jet-age look.
The black and white interior also offers a lot of originality. The lower front seat cushion has been replaced, but the remainder of the interior, including the seats, door panels, and carpets appear to be completely original. There are no splits or tears in the original materials, and the replacement cushion is only notable in that it is slightly brighter than the original stuff, something that only time can cure. The three-level dashboard is also highly original, with chrome trim that shows its age, but all the instruments are fully functional, the AM radio works well, and the indicated mileage of 89,938 is believed to be authentic. As usual, the clock is not functioning, but that’s hardly surprising on a vintage car. Overhead, there’s a black vinyl power convertible top that works properly and folds with the touch of a button. The rust-free trunk is nicely outfitted with a fabric mat that was probably added a few years ago, as well as a full-sized spare tire and jack assembly.
The X-code 352 cubic inch V8 is rated at 220 horsepower, which is enough to make this big ragtop think it’s a muscle car. The engine bay is tidy but not detailed for show, but there is no sign of rust on the inner panels, and the engine wears a more recent coat of Ford Blue paint. Power steering and power brakes are included, making this big cruiser a pleasure to drive in town or on the highway, and the dual exhaust system has a throaty rumble that will make you want to dip into the deep reserves of torque every chance you get. Recent work includes a full tune-up, including plugs, wires, cap, and rotor, a rebuilt carburetor, a new fuel pump, and a set of fresh exhaust manifold gaskets so it runs quite well. The 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission clicks through the gears and a 9-inch rear full of 3.00 gears means that it will cruise at highway speeds in a relaxed fashion. The original wheels and wire spoke wheelcovers are wrapped in appropriately-sized 195/75/14 Kelly whitewall radials.
Unlike their Chevy counterparts, Ford convertibles remain highly affordable, and this 1961 Sunliner makes an excellent entry-level hobby car or just a nice convertible to drive on sunny days. With a powerful V8, good cosmetics, and a functioning power top, it’s a no-compromises ragtop that is both fun to drive and extremely reliable. It’ll be hard to find more vintage sheetmetal for less money than this. Call today!