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The Other Bubbletop: 1961 Ford Galaxie Starliner

Ford’s Starliner was the fastback version of the Galaxie lineup of full-size cars in 1960 and 1961. Some say it was Ford’s response to the “bubbletop” cars offered at about the same time by Chevrolet. They did find some success in NASCAR which may have been the original motivation for the body style. This 1961 edition hasn’t been on the road for some 30 years and has its share of mechanical and cosmetic issues for the next owner to deal with. Located in Wayland, Michigan, this once nifty-looking automobile is available through a dealer here on Barn Finds Classifieds where a link to eBay has it currently going for $3,000.

The Starliner was probably the most futuristic auto that Ford built as the 1950s were going into the 1960s. Characterized by thin roof pillars, fastback styling, and slippery aerodynamics, the Starliners symbolized 1960s Jet Age design. The space race was all the rage and the Galaxie 500 name also fit right in. In its first year, the Starliner and Sunliner convertible were marked as part of Ford’s Galaxie “Special Series”. In its second and last year, the Starliner fell under the regular Galaxie umbrella. Ford’s use of the Starliner name wasn’t the first time it was employed by an automaker as Studebaker used it on cars built from 1952 to 1954.

This Ford was a barn find in Hopkins, Michigan. It’s no longer numbers-matching with a 390 cubic inch V8 from 1969. There is no intake manifold or carburetor present, so who knows what else it might take for the motor to function again. The gas tank was pulled and sent off to be refurbished, which did happen, but it was not reinstalled. The brakes do not work but the car will roll on or off a trailer using a set of wheels the seller will provide to replace the ones in the photos.

The seller goes into detail explaining the issues with the body and paint, which are numerous. The frame and floors seem to be good although the inner rockers have some small holes. The outer rockers are rougher and may need replacing. There was a leak in the trunk that led to a few repairable holes there, too. The hood has loads of surface rust and small dents and (you guessed it) small holes, as well. The list continues to build. The interior also has issues, including the upholstery and dash pad. These cars weren’t rare when new, as fewer than 30,000 were produced in 1961, less than half the number assembled the year before.

Comments

  1. Cadmanls Member

    These are good looking cars. It doesn’t look like that 390 will run again without some machine work. Just pull it and build another FE for it and put a C6 in there to get the shifting done. Body is going to require some help. If it’s in the budget just strip it and dip it. This one is beyond patina, there is no paint on half that car. Must have been half way in the barn, shed or wherever it was hiding. Could be a really nice piece when put back together.

    Like 4
  2. Howard A Member

    This is the car that junkyard employee in the 80s “skewered” with his fork lift. It was actually better than this, but no drivetrain. He was loading cars on a flatbed, the top car crushing the bottom one. Just before he stabbed it, I said, Wait! What, he said, That’s a ’61 Starliner, don’t crush it. He said, you want it or don’t you? I said, I don’t, but someone might. With that, he said, no time, and skewered the side. I couldn’t watch.
    An old friend had this exact car, same color, in a shed in N.Wis. for years. It was his grandfathers car he bought new, and gave it to my friend for graduation. It sat for years and was sunk up to the rockers in the mud. What some people think is worthless, I can’t understand.

    Like 5
  3. Big C

    The problem, back in the 70’s and 80’s is that not many folks considered anything that wasn’t a 55-57 Chevy, or specialty car, to be worth anything. I wonder how many desirable cars got the crusher treatment?

    Like 7
    • Bob

      My thought there is we or, at least, most of us didn’t have enough foresight to realize these cars weren’t going to be around for long. A lot of factors dictate the longevity. Mileage was a big one prior to the newer cars that might go 200K miles.

  4. Emel

    I think one of my Uncles had one of these.
    We use to go boating in it ! Full speed ahead !

  5. Tom

    My older brother had one of those when I was a kid back in the early ‘70s, same light green and everything/green interior and everything! We were mostly a GM family but I absolutely loved that car, and so did he! Possibly a 260 with a 3 on the tree and overdrive? Beautiful car that hopefully will get saved!

  6. Burger

    I was asked to paint a house for an elderly couple, by one of their children, when I was a teenager. When I went to look at the house, in the garage was an all black 61 Starliner, with a red, bucket seat interior. On the fenders were badges that read “406” and under the hood were three inline carbs, hiding beneath a giant air cleaner. Between the seats, a stick shift stuck up from the carpet, with no console, like one might expect.

    This was a pristine, one owner car. Less than 20 years old at the time. According to Ford, the 406 wasn’t available until 62, but this was unquestionably a finned 61. I have wondered about that car for nearly 50 years now. What exactly was I looking at ? Where is it today ?

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