- 1 of only 211 factory Lightweight examples produced
- Original matching numbers R-Code 427/425 HP V-8 engine
- Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission
- A reported 16,000 original miles
- Featured in the 2019 issue of Muscle Machines
Selling on Saturday Evening
1963 Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight Hardtop
By 1963, Detroit’s Big Three had produced new vehicles with increasingly powerful and larger-displacement engines that came right up to the 7.0-liter threshold that made them legal in NASCAR, NHRA, and FIA racing series. The newly designed “lightweight” vehicles with their boosted engines created a whole new share in the market, and Ford knew they had to join. Recognizing the need to cater to the growing demand, Ford took their flagship Galaxie 500 model and developed a lightweight version specifically for street and drag strip racing.
A stripped-down, performance-oriented variant, Ford aimed to reduce weight and improve performance by removing non-essential components and incorporating lightweight materials whenever possible. Built upon a lightweight Ford 300 chassis, which was originally intended for smaller-displacement V-8s and V-6s, the shell was constructed of fiberglass body panels, which included the hood, fenders, trunk lid, and fender aprons. To further reduce weight, the hood springs, heater, trunk lining and mat, spare wheel and tire, trunk lid torsion bar, jack, lug wrench, one of the horns, armrests, rear ashtrays, courtesy lights, dome lights, and the carpets were all removed. Even the sun visors were fitted with cardboard to reduce weight.
To top off the Lightweight version, Ford placed the legendary, high-performance 427-cubic-inch, 7.0-liter V-8 engine. Known as the R-Code engine, it was specially designed for racing using an aluminum intake manifold, a high-performance carburetor that generated 425 horsepower and 480 pounds of tire melting torque. Complementing the R-Code engine was a T-10 aluminum manual transmission and 4:11 open rear axle.
As 1 of only 211 constructed to meet the NHRA Stock Eliminator class requirements, this ’63 Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight was built on April 27th, 1963, and sold new by Sauter Motors in Montvale, New Jersey to Barry Noel of New Jersey. Noel would then sell it to Al Roeher, who was a known street racer in the area. Since all 211 R-Code Lightweight Coupes were Corinthian White over a red interior, he decided to disguise his by painting it black. After dusting almost everyone that tried to line up with him, the jig was up, and people finally realized just what Roeher had been running. After no one wanted to race him, Roeher would sell it to a friend, who would paint it back to its original Corinthian White color. At the end of the ‘70s a deal would be struck, and this car would leave New Jersey for the first time and be welcomed by its new owner in Northern Michigan. Holding onto this Lightweight for well over 30 years, long-time muscle car enthusiasts and business partners Gregg Kophau and Chris Stewart would eventually catch wind of this legendary street racer hiding in a barn. After tracking it down, a deal was made; they took ownership and subsequently overhauled the engine and mechanics to bring it back to proper running order. Retaining all its original components, and even its numbers matching 427/425 V-8 engine, Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission, and 9-inch rear axle, it was a match made in heaven. Many of the R-Codes were raced to death in period and replacement parts were used, so it is very rare to find an example like this that retains all its original engine components. Today, the odometer shows just over 16,000 miles, which are believed to be actual due to its chain of ownership and original numbers-matching parts. Featured in multiple magazines and websites, this Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight is well-known among the Ford faithful.
A combination of historical significance, unique features, and limited to just 211 units produced combine to make this example highly sought-after among collectors and enthusiasts alike. It is indeed a seldom seen opportunity to find such a car as being offered here, that came from the factory with the original R-Code and the corresponding muscle under the hood. This Lightweight represents an opportunity to obtain one of the most highly regarded high performance automobiles of the era.