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60s-70s big Chevrolets vs. big Fords

ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
if you had the choice to buy one now (price notwithstanding), which would you buy and why?
Anyone here own either, and can attest to their superiority/inferiority?


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    I've always been more of a Chevy man than a Ford man, but there are lots of big Fords from the '60's and 70's that I like. I love the '63 especially, and think the models with stacked headlights ('65-67?) are attractive. Into the 70's, I like the ones with the "poke thru" center section of the grille, which I'm guessing was '70-72. They've got kind of an ugly, hulking look to them, but I still find 'em appealing. After '72, they really didn't appeal to me...too much of a T-bird influence, and a roofline that was kind of clumsy and did away with the hardtops.

    Stylewise, I don't think there's a big 60's or 70's Chevy that I don't like. My favorites here would be '60-62, '65, and '72, although I do like 'em all. I really wasn't too crazy about the '66-67 or '69 models, though. Sometimes, a trim shuffle is enough to make a difference in a style to me.

    One thing I don't like about a lot of Chevies from the early-mid 60's, is that too many of 'em had 2-speed automatic transmissions. Now I've never driven a car with a 2-speed for more than just a quick spin, so I don't know what they'd be like to live with on a daily basis, but I guess once you get used to 3-speeds, a 2-speed just doesn't seem right. Just like nowadays, a 4-speed automatic is the norm, so going back to a 3-speed, it seems inadequate. Didn't a lot of Fords back then have 4-speed automatics? I remember some kind of feature, too, that would let you start out in second gear to reduce slipping in wet weather, or something like that. I guess the transmission is only a major issue though, if you're getting one as a daily driver.
  • There was a good reason that the 2 speed auto was nicknamed the "powerflop". If you have a manual try winding first to the redline then shifting directly to 4th. That's about the feeling I remember.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I think Chevies have a slight advantage in getting parts (body and engine) when needed, but the frequency of powerglides in the Chevies sucks. I think it's easy (and cheap) enough to replace with a turbo-hydramatic, no? I know the TH was used exclusively in big chevies after 69 (right?) with some of the same engines (particularly the 327). Does anyone know if the TH would work with a 283 or 307 (68 Impala base V8)?
    I don't know about Ford transmissions. I think they were 3 speeds (Cruise-o-matic?).
    Chevies are certainly easier to find, but way more expensive in general.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    For everyday driving the Powerglide was fine, at least for me. You lose something off the line because first gear is around 1.72, almost a second gear ratio, but the main drawback is that you run out of passing gear too quickly.

    But it worked. The Chevy 283 and 327 were so much better than Ford's comparable engines in the early '60s, the 292 and 352, that I wonder if there was any real difference in performance around town. And as I recall Ford's early Cruise-O had only two speeds unless you floored it.

    The '64-up Ford C-4 and C-6 were true three speeds. I'm not aware of any Ford four speed automatic in the '60s and '70s.

    Styling is subjective so I won't go there, but I think the full-size Ford's main drawback throughout the '60s was its engines. The Y-block 292 they used through '63 was obsolete in 1958. The '64 used a 160-hp 260 that couldn't have moved that heavy car around too well. The '65-up 289 was a great engine but the 352 was a real chuffer--my parents had one in a '65 Ford and I think their 283 Impala was quicker.

    The torquey 390 was great for pulling around a heavy car but it wasn't known as a performer, not even the 390 GT available in the Mustang and Fairlane GT/Comet Cyclone. A friend had a '66 Cyclone that was pretty underwhelming and contemporary roadtests back this up. It's a really heavy engine and the '50s-era cylinder head design just doesn't let it breathe like the more modern Chevy 396. My friend's parents had a '67 Galaxie with the 390-2v and we proved repeatedly that it could spin its right rear tire, but after that it just ran out of breath. (On the other hand I had a 390 built with aftermarket parts that was very strong in a Cougar so it can perform if persuaded.)

    Ford always had the right parts in its bins but didn't put them together right until the 428 Cobra Jet and that engine wasn't available in full sizers. The 427/425 was an absolutely helacious engine but way too wild for most drivers. There was an interesting 390 Police Interceptor with a solid lifter cam but Joe Commuter wasn't into adjusting his valves.

    I had a ride in a '63 Galaxie with the 427's predecessor, the 406/385, and that was quite a car with a four speed. But overall I think Chevy offered the best selection of engines, at least until smog controls reduced almost every engine to the same level of mediocrity.
  • Depends on the use, but speedshift is correct in that the big Fords in the mid 60's were marketed as solid, safe, sturdily built, and quiet cars. Performance was never the image they tried for, and the engine design followed suit.

    You may be able to find a Ford with a 428, and maybe even the rare 427, but the vast majority had the 352 v-8 up until 1966, when the 390 is the most common engine found. It was tuned for low end grunt, but the 390 & 428 both used the C-6 tranny, so upgrading a 390 shouldn't fry the tranny if that is the route one chooses.

    I don't think parts availability is a problem for either one, both sold like pancakes, and it seems a lot of both are still around, and reproduction parts are made for both.

    Ford and Chevy is like ying & yang, some like one, some like the other. Chevy's may cost a little more.

    Speedshift, meant to ask you, what does your sources show for curb weight on the 67 Galaxie XL vs. the Impala SS? I thought the Galaxie may be slightly bigger.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I have a big '70's Ford (Well, Mercury actually-'bout a dime's worth of difference), a '78 Grand Marquis. Very big, very comfortable car. The 400 CID engine made 163 horsepower stock and it handles like the QE2. Definately not a speed demon (even more so, now that old age and incomplete tuneups have rendered the old 400M even more of a gutless wonder than it was before). Still, that car is great for those times after a long, stressful day, when you can sit back in the La-Z-Boy seats, turn up the 8-track, and relax as you drive home, secure in the knowledge that this underpowered, ill-handling land barge can withstand the assault of a cell-phone using soccer-mom obliviously unaware that her Navigator is not the only vehicle on the road. And if I want the hair-in-the-wind sportscar feel, I'll just drop the windows and pass an 18-wheeler ;-).
    People wonder why I love this car. Sometimes I wonder why I love this car. I just do.
  • ok, a 6.6 litre (rounded up) engine producing 163 horsepower? I'm glad I'm a 90's driver, very, very glad.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    ...the 150 hp-spewing lean burn 360 2-bbl in my '79 New Yorker doesn't sound so bad! The really laughable year for it was 1980, when it dropped to an almighty 130 hp. Sometimes those big engines can surprise you though. Even if the hp numbers are laughable, the torque #'s usually are not, and I think in big luxo-cruisers, that's what matters most. Maybe they won't exactly wow you from 0-60, but they have an eerie silence about them at cruising speed, and will deceive you when you see just how fast you're really going. They'll often conquer mountain inclines a lot more gracefully, presuming there aren't any sharp turns!

    I can't fully explain why these hedonistic late 70's behemoths appeal to me, either, but I just know that they do. I like the fact that back in the 60's and early 70's, it was possible for a car to be both big and sporty, and that's probably why they have a much broader appeal. But there's just something about the pimpiness of a top-line late 70's car. The shag carpet, the thick, padded vinyl, the fake wood. Sure it's tacky, but somehow, it looks at home in a late 70's love-boat! Plus, this truly was the end of an era for the big car. In 1976, even the smallest full size car was still a good 220-221" long, while some of the Lincolns, Cadillacs, Olds 98's, and Buick Electras were pushing 230-233"! And people cry about those tiny little Excursions today! ;-) I think the longest car made today is the Town Car, but even on the extended wheelbase, it's "only" about 223". I doubt that cars of this size will ever be more than a niche market today, but they were the standard back in the 70's.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I don't know about you guys ;-).

    To me and to most people who were actually around then, cars from the '70s represent the automotive equivilent of a perfect storm, the inevitable and uncontrollable intersection of increasing size, gutlessness and bad taste.

    Hey, I get it, that's the appeal!

    jsylvester: my book lists the '67 Impala SS convertible V8 at 3650 pounds and $3254 base price. '67 Galaxie XL convertible lists at 3794 pounds and $3493. The Impala weight sounds light so I'm pretty sure it's the shipping weight (no fluids). But the Galaxie weight is also probably the shipping weight so it looks like the Ford was almost 150 pounds heavier. And the standard Ford 289 was maybe 50 pounds lighter than the Chevy 283. Maybe the Ford came with a few more features (the higher base price might support that) or maybe it had more sound deadening ("more quiet than a Rolls Royce") or maybe it was better built.

    Many years ago my father told me that Ford wagons were stronger than Chevies. Ford certainly sold a lot of full-size wagons then, way more than Chevy, but I never quite believed him until one day I saw a '66 Chevy wagon that actually bowed at the back end just like he said.
  • There is a website that focuses purely on 1967 full-size Fords - Why 1967? I think the founder owns a couple.

    Has everything you would want to know about full size Fords. The copy of the Ford Car Facts Binder put out by Ford from that website shows the XL Convertible at a curb weight of around 3,970 lbs. Includes info on all option prices, etc.

    If you go the website and look at the picture gallery, my Galaxie 500 XL Convertible is in there, car #1129. It is metallic burgundy with parchment interior.

    My Dad was/is always a Ford man, owned a 66 Galaxie 500 Station wagon, and a 72 Country Squire. Not that I have anything against Chevy, but I never really looked very hard for one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,319
    I always thought GM V-8s ran better...they can just tick over quietly at low rpm, but a Ford V-8 always seemed lumpy to me. Maybe it was their carburation, dunno. I'd give the handling crown to neither...I always thought Chrysler products of those times "handled" better, or what I mean is "less worse".

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  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    a couple of posts up, there were mentions of laughably low hp in late 70s cars. We do have to remember that the advertised hp changed (from gross to net) in 1972 (I think), so that's part of it. I had a 77 Caprice with the indestructable 305 2-barrel, not a lot of power but really not too bad, and didn't use tons of gas. Of course, the 77 shed about a thousand pounds from the 76, so that helped a lot.

    I also remember a neighbor had a 68 Impala (quite large) convertible with a 307 2 barrel. While not a tire smoker, that car moved just fine, considering it had 200 (gross) hp. Handled like a pontoon boat, and the 14" tires really didn't help much.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    I owned a 1970 Galaxie police interceptor for quite a few years (kind of a backup car, only payed $500 for it) that was in pretty good shape.

    Had a 'P' code (which doesn't seem to show up in books I've got) 428, rubber floor mats, some kind of goofy smooth seat material, remote trunk opener (woohoo!), etc.

    Actually ran and handled pretty well. The C6 shifted sharply enough to really spin the tires 1/2 shift and would chirp the 2/3 shift. You do forget how darn *big* those cars were (in every dimension). I expect a hydraulic lifter 427 Impala felt pretty similar.

    Looking back, the main thing I would have done is bought a set of the biggest, best tires available instead of cheaping out. Perhaps use whatever modern police cars are equipped with.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,549
    Hands down...I would take the Impala.

    Much better workmanship, better looks and better engines. Compare the looks of a '62 Galaxie to an Impala SS.

    And the two speed Powerglides worked just fine too.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    '60s styling actually started with the '59s and I've have to go with Chevy from then through '62. I really like the '59, especially the Corvette-style dash, and you could order a four speed and the Corvette fuelie 283 or some very hot 348s. The '61-2 Bel Air hardtops were also sharp.

    I had a '61 Impala convertible with 348/250 and four speed that was just a $250 car back in '71. Now I guess you could add two zeros to that price. Also had a '61 Biscayne wagon with 283 and 3 speed that felt pretty quick even with lots of miles. Also a '62 Impala SS 327 that taught me never to buy a car with 4.11s.

    I'm just not sure about the '63 Chevy and especially the boxy '64. The hardtop roofline is a nice blend of elegance and sportiness with the convertible-style creases around the rear window but overall the cars look a little awkward to me. I think it's because of the relationship of the greenhouse to the body--the two just seem out of proportion, especially on the '63.

    The difference between the '64s and '65s was like night and day. Somehow I missed the '64 when it was introduced and about that time I would regularly pass a house that had a '64 and a '65 parked out front, nose to nose. For a while I thought Chevy had offered two radically different styles that year just to cover their bets (made sense to a ten-year-old).

    The '65-7 cokebottle Chevies may be my favorites. '65 seems to be the last year Chevy sold a lot of 327/4-speed Impala SSs and that's kind of a sentimental favorite, especially the 300-hp version with Corvette big-valve heads.

    I had one, a convertible that ran on seven cylinders (not all my cars were winners). The problem seemed to be a bad valve so I pulled the heads and had them redone, put them back on and the car smoked like a chimney--now the engine had too much compression for the tired rings. Another lesson learned: internal engine components usually wear out at the same rate. Disturb their balance and it may not be an improvement.

    '65 was also the last year for the 409 and I had the 340-hp boat anchor version with Powerglide in a wagon.

    The '66 Caprice has a very nice roofline and that was the only year the SS came with full gauges standard (optional in '65). I learned to drive on a '66 Impala and later had a '66 SS 327/275. These were nice cruisers but not exciting to drive and felt huge from the drivers seat (and they were).

    I remember the first time I saw a '68 Chevy, parked in front of my school. It seemed pretty radical, especially the taillights set in the rear bumper.

    My favorite full-size Fords are the '65-7. I also remember the first '65 I saw, in the parking lot of a Winn Dixie, and my reaction was that it looked a lot more sophisticated than previous Fords. A veteran car critic at the age of ten.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    I went to to take a look at yours and other cars. Maybe it's me, but I can't figure out how to get past the home page and find the photos of cars. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Here is the link to the main page.

    Go to the menu on the left side and click directly on the words "picture gallery" reference. From there it will have subdirectories. It should work, I just tried it.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    ...sweet car; looks like you found a really nice one! Parm, if you go to, on the left side, there is a clickable link that says "Picture Gallery". It'll take you to a list where you can click on various '67 Fords by series and body style.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    I typed the previous message, but then got too tied up looking at all the pictures on that website! Sorry for the redundancy!
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Found the picture gallery just fine the second time around. The first time was from my home PC, but this most recent attempt was from my office. Must be the way I have the frames set or something. Anyway, it was fun looking at the 67's. When I was a kid, we had a '67 Mercury Colony Park station wagon which obviously shared a great deal of kinship with the Ford's.

    Jsylvester, I found your car #1129. Have you done any restoration work since the photo?

    I found what must have been a European model in that the steering wheel and controls were on the right side. Funny thing though, the dash board had a series of round gauges - unlike all other 67 Galaxies I've seen that have the speedo running across the dash in a horizontal fashion. Anyone know if this dash was a special version or was it a regular production option in the U.S.?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    jsylvester, nice car! Nice neighborhood too.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    In looking at early 60's Galaxies (pre-1965) with bucket seats, it appears these are the same bucket seats from the Thunderbird - which I've come to find are pretty uncomfortable (unless you like sitting at military attention).

    Can anyone confirm this?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    If nobody can confirm about the bucket seats, I'll ask him if he knows anything about 'em. All I know is he hated the car because it was a Ford and he wanted an Impala SS at the time. All I know is that it was a hardtop coupe and had a 390 in it, but don't know if it even had bucket seats, but knowing what my Dad likes, it probably did.

    Funny thing is, he admits now that it was a pretty good car, and was in much better shape than the '63 SS 409 he ended up getting! But I guess it's better to have a ragged-out car that you DO like, then a nice one that you don't!
  • Thanks for the complements, it is such a low mileage little-old-lady car that age has pretty much been it's only enemy.

    The only thing I've done to the car so far is clean it up, wax it completely from top to bottom (that was a 3-4 hour job, a lot of chrome and polished aluminum trim), changed the oil, inspected it from top to bottom, and get the timing reset. The car will be going in for some surface rust on the frame and anyplace else as soon as I'm sure my employer is not going belly up. I plan on keeping it as original as possible except for maybe some mild engine work down the road.

    I wish I could claim it was my house, but the pictures are from the guy I bought the car from, taken over the summer at his house. He collects old Cadillacs, this Ford he bought only due to the condition. He's a classic American success story - 40 year old high school graduate self-made millionare from the restaurant business.

    Alas, not my $50,000 Mercedes in the background either!
  • I would bet your find is one they either exported to or built in Australia. Ford used to sell their full sizer's in Australia, so that should explain the right hand drive. The gauges, not sure, maybe it was a Fairlane?

    (As an aside, GM still builds a full size v-8 rear wheel drive car under the Holden name in Australia. When do we get ours?)

    The seats in the Galaxie are not the greatest thing in the world, from a time when men were men, I guess. Now men get make-overs, liposuction, and worry about their skin type.

    I do admit liking the seats in my daily driver much more, maybe a cushion could help?
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    The big 1960s-70s Chevrolets are the cars of my youth. The very first car I can remember is my Dad's cream-colored 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne. This car was a two-door sedan with a gray cloth and vinyl interior powered by the 250 cid inline six-cylinder engine mated to a three-speed manual transmission shifted via the column. I still think of this car as the nicest car I remember my Dad owning. It was hit on the right rear quarter panel by a delivery truck in 1970. The accident occurred near my grandparents' house. My Dad decided to look for a new car following the accident. It might have been a gold 1968 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan if he hadn't discovered that the sleazy dealer tried to disguise the fact that the car had burnt valves by filling the crankcase with STP! Instead, he purchased a 1968 AMC Javelin.

    My grandfather is a long-time Chevrolet fan. My parents were whisked away from the church following their wedding in Grandpop's new black 1964 Chevrolet Biscayne. A few years loater, he purchased a new gold 1967 Chevrolet Bel Air and gave the '64 to my grandmother who unwisely traded it for a new 1973 Vega! Later on, my grandfather purchased a new 1974 Impala, then a 1980 Impala. His current car is a loaded 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Brougham.

    My great-grandfather was even a Chevy. His car was a light blue 1967 Biscayne.

    My best friend's family were also Chevy fans. They had a light blue 1967 Bel Air, a 1971 Impala, a 1973 Impala and a 1978 Impala.

    My high school/college girlfriend's very first car was a mint-condition white 1971Chevrolet Caprice 4-door hardtop. Unfortunately she totalled this car and then got her mother's drop-dead gorgeous triple-white 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham as a replacement.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    ...was my Mom's 1968 Impala 4-door hardtop. It was a greenish-turqoise color, and I think it had a black vinyl top. She got it in 1972, as a hand-me down from her parents. Before that, she had been driving a '66 Catalina convertible, but after she had me, she didn't like the idea of driving around with a child in a convertible. So she gave it to Grandmom and Granddad, who used it to trade in for a brand new '72 Impala 4-door hardtop, in forest green.

    That '72 unfortunately had a serious rust problem. I can remember Granddad slopping Bondo on the lower parts of the front fenders, right behind the wheel, every spring! I think he also had to do a valve job on it around the 70K mark. Still, I loved that car. I wanted them to hold onto it until I was 16, so I could have it, but they sold it when I was 11. Probably a good thing, too. By that time, its white vinyl top was cracked and peeling, and I'm sure the bondo was multiplying. They sold it to some friends for $600.00, who had a new top put on it, and then sold it about a year later for something like $700.00. I think they got a Maverick to replace it.

    As for the '68, I was 5 when Mom traded it on a brand new '75 LeMans coupe. I don't think there was anything really wrong with it, but she just wanted a new car, and something sportier. Plus, I'm sure that turquoise was really outdated by the mid 70's, as there were much more [ahem] tasteful colors available by then!

    We had a '64 Ford Galaxie when I was a kid, too. Dad was always buying these clunkers with a manual shift, which my Mom couldn't drive. I vaguely remember him having a '62 Corvette, and later a '64 GTO. Well, he always took out the '68 Impala and left her stranded at home. So my Granddad found this '64 Galaxie 4-door for something like $75.00, and gave it to us. For some reason, I hated that car as a kid, probably because my Dad had instilled some kind of Ford hatred in me at the time ;-) Well, Granddad had gotten that car for my Dad to drive, so he wouldn't always be taking out the Impala, but it didn't work. Mom got stuck with the Galaxie. Even after she bought the LeMans, Dad would take it out and leave us home, alone, with the old Ford! Maybe that's why they're not together anymore!!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    My Dad wrecked his 1968 AMC Javelin in February 1974 on his way to work. He bought a temporary replacement for $250.00 - a 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible! This was such a cool car and it was in fairly good condition. It could've used a new top, but it really wasn't that ratty. The paint was in good shape and the body had no rust. I remember spending that summer riding around with Dad with the top down on the Pontiac. We kids had a lot of fun, but my Mom was afraid that Dad just bought this cars so he could look good to the young girls. He traded it in October for a gold 1970 Ford Torino two-door hardtop. That car was pretty sharp but nowhere near as much fun as the GTO.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I always wanted my parents to have a big Chevy, but my parents were kinda hippies, so we had a Corvair and a VW bug when I was born (1969), and later had a Datsun 510 and a pickup truck. Now that I think about it, those cars were kinda cool. My relatives did have big GMs when I was a kid. Lemme think, my grandparents had a '60 Catalina wagon, traded for '69 Kingswood Estate (green, with 396, hidden headlights, all power options), wrecked and replaced with an orange '73 Bel Air wagon with a white interior. My aunt had a 67 Caprice for a while, I loved that car.

    I have very little experience with big Fords. I liked some of them a lot, and some less. I think Ford styling was always kind of a compliment to Chevy's, in that Fords were kind of roundy when Chevies were boxy (63-64 especially), then Fords became more square when GM adopted the 'fluid' styling of 65-68.

    I think the most interesting thing about 60s Fords and Chevies especially was the possible variety of cars one could buy. You could go from a $2500 Biscayne with a 6 and 3 speed to a $5000 loaded Caprice with a 427 and 4 speed, all on the same platform.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    Ah, youth. Some of us vividly recall driving cars of the thirties rather than having youthful recollections of the sixties. Driving a '38 Dodge - one guy at the wheel while I sat on the fender with one hand on the distributor and the other on the carb.......

    If searching for a big Ford or Chevy with automatic transmission from '60s -'70s, note that Ford's C-6 and Chevy's THM-400 were distinctly better than the others.
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