Mick Manariti loves big cars at 5.3 metres long, his 1966 big-block Ford Galaxie is one tough cruiser

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Mick Manariti’s ’66 Ford Galaxie is built like an ocean liner but she goes like a speed boat. This article on Mick’s Galaxie was originally published in the March 2011 issue of Street Machine

LOVE big cars,” Mick Manariti says. “The last couple I had before this were ZD Fairlanes but they just weren’t big enough.”

Lusting for something larger, he found himself a ’66 Galaxie; measuring up at 5.3 metres from nose to tail it’s a fair chunk of iron. He bought the Australian-delivered behemoth for just $3000 about six years ago but it sure didn’t look as good or go as well as it does today.

Ford -galaxie -rear“It was in pretty good nick,” Mick says. “Body-wise it was good but the engine was pretty tired.”

Instead of its original 390, the Galaxie had a 460-cuber sitting between the frame rails but whoever did the installation had done a piss-poor job.

“They’d butchered some 390 mounts to get it in there,” Mick explains. Not that it really mattered because Mick was planning to take the big Gal back to bare metal and turn it into something special.

“I bought it with the intention of doing what I’ve done,” he says. “All my cars in the past have looked pretty mellow but this time I wanted to go the full hog with tubs and all.”

With that in mind, he pulled the car down at home with a little help from his three boys then delivered the rolling shell to McDonald Brothers Racing for tubs and steering modifications.

The rear chassis rails have been moved in about 4.5 inches either side so it’ll accept a 15.5in Hoosier under each quarter now. With the size of those rear flanks, such a huge chunk of rubber looks just right but it’s all engineered and legal as well.

Next it rolled up at Dave’s Kustoms, Rods & Classics for some panel and paint. And how about a rollcage while you’re at it? You see Mick was planning to put some real mumbo up front and with dragstrip action on the cards, a decent ’cage is wise.

Ford -galaxie -interior -rearAs you can imagine, a fair amount of time went into the body and paint. Back in the 60s those big slab-sided cars were rarely straight, even factory fresh. Now it’s got lines as sharp as glass and the panel gaps are spot-on, all highlighted by a liberal coating of PPG Silver Blue.

“We tried to match the original colour; I think it came out on the ’65-’66 Mustangs as well.”

The body was sorted over a two-year period, which gave them time to think about motivation. Not that it needs too much thought; the only way to get a beast like this moving is cubes — lots of cubes.

“When I started the car, I think the biggest we could go was 514 cubes. Then I found out we could go 545,” Mick grins. “Then it was 600 cubes but they don’t recommend that for the street.”

So with 545 cubic inches as the benchmark, it was just a matter of leaving it in the experienced hands of John at J&K Condello Motors. Using a new SVO block, Super Cobra Jet heads, CP pistons and a Scat crank and rods, the guys bolted together a package so tough it’ll probably come around and punch us in the guts just for talking about it. We’ll take that risk.

How much power do you reckon it makes? How about a dyno-proven 703hp at 6000rpm with 723lb/ft of torque? Not enough? Well there’s the NOS direct port nitrous injection ready to add an extra 500 horses. Yeah, that should do it.

At the moment it’s only set to 200hp — its minimum setting — but Mick hasn’t flicked the switch yet.

True blue Ford fans might want to skip this next bit; Mick’s fitted a Powerglide. “I thought it would be a bit stronger for what I wanted to do,” he explains. “To my surprise it went straight in, and even sits on the factory C6 crossmember because we’ve set the engine back about one and a half inches.”

In the 12 months since it hit the road, he’s just been enjoying it while sorting out the usual bits and pieces but he has given the big Gal a run at Heathcote to see what she could do.

Ford -galaxie -dragOff the trailer things weren’t great — it spat the radiator hose during the first pass. With a fresh load of water on board, the big Ford lifted its nose and ripped down the track for a best of 11.3@125mph — no gas. Not bad for the first and so far only time out. Just imagine what it’ll do when he gets some more track time and hits the giggle gas!

“Hopefully next meeting,” Mick says. “We’re going to tune it up properly on a chassis dyno and get it into the mid to low 10s. I’ll be happy with that.”

Ford -galaxie -interior -dashWhen you consider that the Galaxie weighs a massive 1950kg without Mick on board, that would be a very respectable time indeed. And that weight measurement was done before he decked out the boot — “It might be closer to two tonnes now,” he says.

But he didn’t build this car as a racer; he just loves having a tough cruiser that can go as hard as it looks, and having thumbed a lift at the Bright Rod Run we can say it definitely does that.

“To be honest I didn’t think it was going to come out as good as it did,” Mick admits. “I’m rapt; I try and take it out every weekend when the weather’s good, and even to work during the week if I can.”

Mick’s brother Pat is also a Ford guy and built his own show-quality streeter, with 10-second potential. See Pat’s stunning street & strip Ford XP Falcon here.