Tri-Power/4-Speed: 1961 Ford Galaxie Starliner

Ford offered the Galaxie Starliner during the 1960 and 1961 model years. Buyers could choose to specify their shiny new toy in any way from mild to wild, and this 1961 model fits at the top end of the spectrum. With a 390ci Tri-Power V8 under the hood, it offers power to burn for its next lucky owner. Located in Tiverton, Rhode Island, you will find the Starliner listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has made its way to $20,200, but the reserve hasn’t been met. The owner offers a BIN option of $32,000 for anyone who wants to avoid the hassles of participating in an auction.

It’s frustrating when an owner advertises a vehicle that is as attractive and desirable as this Raven Black Starliner but then decides to supply limited photos for potential buyers to examine. That is the case here because the first two shots in this article are the only ones of the exterior that the seller provides. They still paint a positive overall picture, with the paint shining beautifully and the panels appearing extremely straight. The owner says that it isn’t a show car but that it is a solid driver. That suggests that there are few, if any, rust issues with the vehicle. There is nothing visible externally, which is never a bad thing. The chrome and trim sparkle in the sunshine, while the 15″ wheels that it rolls on fit with the car’s character. All of the glass, including that enormous and distinctive back window, looks to be faultless, and the more I look at this Sunliner, the more that I can hear the open road beckoning its next lucky owner.

It seems that the 390ci V8 that is housed in this Ford’s engine bay is original, but it has received a few upgrades. The owner has fitted the Tri-Power setup and the 4-speed manual transmission that feeds the power to the rear wheels. It isn’t clear what the specifications of this 390 are, but it would have been pumping out at least 300hp in standard form. Ford also offered a high-performance version with 375hp. Stepping up to the Tri-Power further boosted that figure to an incredible 401hp. If this V8 is producing those sorts of numbers, then its performance should be startling. We’re talking about a ¼-mile ET of somewhere just below 14.5 seconds, which is extremely impressive in a car that tips the scales at 3,864lbs. The owner has recently fitted the Starliner with new brakes and tires, and while he doesn’t provide specific details on how it runs or drives, the fact that he described the overall vehicle as a nice driver gives us cause to be optimistic.

The Galaxie’s interior is just as tidy as the rest of the vehicle and doesn’t have any urgent needs. The owner has recently fitted a set of NOS seat covers, and these look pretty good. The fit is slightly odd along the lower edge on the driver’s side, but this looks like it could be stretched into place. The dash is in excellent order, as are the carpet and wheel. There are some aftermarket gauges and a tach, but the buyer could remove these if he wants to achieve a stock appearance. I would be inclined to leave them because monitoring the health of that mighty V8 would be a wise move. The Galaxie hasn’t been loaded with luxury appointments, but it does come equipped with its original AM radio and a power front seat.

This 1961 Galaxie Starliner is not perfect, but that is part of its potential attraction to buyers. Its lack of perfection makes it a classic that can be driven and enjoyed with a carefree attitude. Its new owner will not face stress on every outing, fearing that a single stone chip will destroy its perfection. The drivetrain combination makes it a potent beast, and I suspect that it will be finding its way to a new home sooner rather than later.

Fast Finds


  1. Liberty Valance

    I approve.

    Like 2
  2. Ricardo Ventura

    Beautiful car.
    Balanced customization. But on the garage door I see flags that appear to be Corvette.
    A photo of the front of the car would be nice.
    It will sell easy I believe.

    Like 4
  3. Alan Brase

    Indeed, Ford did offer some higher performance 390 engines, pretty much to the same tune as the 406 of 1962 and the low riser 427 of 63. BUT both the 375 and 401hp cars had cast iron factory exhaust that looked like aftermarket headers.
    It does not appear these are present.
    As a 16 year old kid, I actually stumbled upon and flipped 2 of the 375hp cars. Made an incredible $300 profit.

    Like 6
    • jokacz

      I may be wrong, but looks like it has those exhaust manifolds. But does it have solid lifters and the good heads and all the other internal goodies of an HP?

      Like 1
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    The car that got me out of drag racing. Just couldn’t meet Ford’s money. Nice car!

    Like 1
  5. Troy s

    Great Ford memorabilia, cant recal seeing any of these, first time was a glimpse of one in the movie Hollywood Nights. I remember thinking it was the best looking old Ford I’d ever seen! Ha, in a movie of all things,
    The aftermarket gauges are more correct in appearance for a mean machine like this, keep them. Oh yeah, they do serve a purpose.
    Built 390 4 speed boat like this may cover the quarter mile in the high 14’s, with good rear tires, its more of a speedway star really. NICE.

    Like 4
  6. CycloneJeff Cyclonejeff Member

    Wonder if it’s a HIPO car? I see the clutch pedal pad is of a HIPO. But hipo didn’t come with power brakes,but could of been installed. I wonder if the brake hardline is routed on bottom of radiator support? Does it have solid lifters? 11×3 front drums? Kelsey Hayes wheel stops on lower A arm? Big bearing rear end? Seller should should look and it would make worth more. Oh and wonder if factory Z code and 3spd car would help also since 4spd was available in 62. Blue oval nerd! Love them Big Fords!

    Like 4
  7. CycloneJeff CycloneJeff Member

    4spd wasn’t available until 62!

    Like 3
    • PairsNPaint

      Ad states the 4 speed and tri-power were added later.

      Would love to have one this in my garage

  8. McQ

    @CycloneJeff: all good points regarding what makes a true High Performance 1961 390-375 or 401 horsepower. One additional thing to look for on an HP Ford is the fuel tank to pump line – should be 3/8” instead of standard 5/16”. Also a Borg-Warner 4 speed did become optional for the 390HP in April of ‘61. However it had to be dealer/owner installed. So you’re right that a 4 speed became factory installed for ‘62.
    This is an interesting ‘61 Starliner deserving closer inspection to determine if it’s a very uncommon ‘61 HP Ford. I can see the cast iron “header style” exhaust manifolds. But I see a vacuum advance distributor. The HP 390’s had a centrifugal dual point unit. Power brakes and Power steering were not available for the HP390.

    Like 1
  9. Jason Member

    Nice car and we liked these Starliners as a 16 year olds especially the red ones. The magazines talked about the 375 and 401 hp versions, but I doubt many of them were sold. It seems like you would have to know what’s inside this 390 before making accurate quarter mile predictions below 15 seconds.

    Like 1
  10. 370zpp

    Great car.
    Great name; Starliner

    Like 1
    • Vince H

      Studebaker started using the name Starliner in 52 for their hardtop. 8 years before Ford in 60.

      Like 1
  11. Marvin Askins

    When I was 17 in 1965 my second car was a red 1961 Sunliner convertible, 390, 3 speed on the column. I went through 9 transmissions in 10 months! Car was fast, ran well until I “flat shifted” (speed shifting we called it in the 60s) it from 1st to 2nd gear and it blew 1st, 2nd and reverse! I became a great customer to the local junk yard when I was a senior in high school. I had good credit along with pick up/repair service from them. They would just ask me where to pick it up after the third tranny blew. My Dad traded it in for my first 1965 Mustang coupe in 1966. Wish I had that car today.

    Like 1
  12. Burger

    I can count the number of Fords I would own on one hand. The Starliners are one of them.

    Like 1
    • Jason Member

      I always liked the chrome strip between the taillights and don’t know if other years had it, too.

  13. DayDreamBeliever Member

    The eBay auction link is broken, brings up a notation saying that the page is missing.

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