One of the best-known and most-loved of Ford enthusiasts was Rick Kirk, a Ripley, Oklahoma, native who amassed a legendary collection of Ford and Mustang production cars and race cars, as well as a vast array of historic Ford memorabilia.
Kirk, who died in January at the aged of 71, operated his own Ford automotive museum for a time in Ripley, and besides buying and selling Fords, Mustangs, parts and memorabilia, he was known as a skilled machinist who did work for the Detroit automakers as well as making parts for collector cars.
Ford race cars were Kirk’s passion, and four of the crown jewels of his collection – 1962-64 Galaxie “lightweight” factory drag-race cars – will be offered this week during Mecum’s Original Spring Classic auction, which starts Tuesday and continues through Sunday in Indianapolis.
The iconic Galaxie lightweights were part of Ford’s Total Performance program, during which the company built the highly competitive racers in Dearborn for the NHRA’s expanding Super Stock class. Each of Kirk’s cars have documented racing history.
The heavy full-size, two-door sedans shed about 425 pounds each through the use of fiberglass for the hood, front fenders, rear deck and fender liners, along with aluminum bumper components, a trimmed-down frame and deleted sound deadening and other extraneous production-car bits.
Even after their diets, the Galaxies still weighed around 3,400 pounds, but they could turn the quarter mile in the low 12s.
The earliest car in Kirk’s collection is an impeccably restored 1962 Galaxie lightweight, one of just 11 built and one of just two known to survive with its original 1962 body panels; Ford built seven of the early racers with 1963 lightweight bodies. The engine is a 406/405-horsepower V8.
Model year 1963 was the heyday for the Galaxie lightweights, with Ford producing 212 of them, all white with red interiors and powered by 427/425-horsepower engines with 4-speed manuals. Kirk’s restored “Dragon Waggin” car was raced by Burl Hawkins for Bill Doenges Ford in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and wears the regalia of its racing days.
The collection has two of the final-year lightweights for 1964, one of 25 with a manual transmission and one of 25 with automatic, each also in white with red interiors. These were the last of Ford’s full-size factory drag racers, built as backups in case the NHRA ruled against the new Thunderbolt Fairlanes. The Fairlanes were approved for Super Stock and the Galaxies raced instead in the newly created AA/Stock category.
The ’64 Galaxies, with the 427/425 engines, continued their reign in the new NHRA classification, and both of these cars with their bulging hoods have well-documented competition histories.
Although their time was brief, the Ford Galaxie lightweights represent a stirring example of “skunkworks” engineering to deliver top-performance race cars, with which Ford loyalists could do battle against the GM and Mopar competition.
These were purely competition vehicles, and as such, Ford required purchasers to sign a disclaimer that stated: “This car is a maximum performance vehicle and should only be sold to the knowing customer who understands the warranty implications.”
The pre-auction estimated values for each of the Galaxies is $125,000 to $175,000.