It can happen in a flash. One moment you are cruising along in your freshly restored 1968 Galaxie 500XL GT, and the next you are an unwilling roadside attraction, standing helplessly as flames consume your ultrarare 428, four-speed fastback. You didn’t bring a fire extinguisher to this party. Passers-by linger to shoot cellphone videos of the spectacle. A nitwit proclaims, “That Mustang’s on fire!” Fire trucks arrive, the flames are extinguished—and so is your spirit.

In this first installment of Bruised Muscle, we review the sad results of an engine bay fire that nearly took this rare Ford last year. Purchased at auction by New Braintree, Massachusetts, Ford enthusiast Paul Maio, the Galaxie will be repaired by the guys at NextGen Performance and Fire Suppression of Spencer, Massachusetts. They remind us to keep a fully charged fire extinguisher in the car at all times.

Got a similar tale of woe involving a mangled muscle car? Then or now, we’d love to see pictures and share your lesson here in MCR. Just send your pix to mcreview@sbcglobal.net with Bruised Muscle in the subject line, and we will run it in what could become a somewhat regular feature. Just make sure your pictures are high resolution so they won’t be the size of postage stamps when printed.

A descendant of the mighty 406 and 427 Galaxies that dominated NASCAR just a few years earlier, this sleek Galaxie 500XL GT seemed a step behind the times by 1968. Most Ford muscle customers wanted smaller, sleeker Mustangs and Fairlanes, but for the remaining fullsize stalwarts, this was the height of fashion. The Q-code 428 installed in 1968 Galaxies lacked the 427 low-riser heads, high-rise intake manifold, and 735-cfm Holley bestowed upon same-year Mustang and Fairlane Cobra Jet 428 engines.
A descendant of the mighty 406 and 427 Galaxies that dominated NASCAR just a few years earlier, this sleek Galaxie 500XL GT seemed a step behind the times by 1968. Most Ford muscle customers wanted smaller, sleeker Mustangs and Fairlanes, but for the remaining fullsize stalwarts, this was the height of fashion. The Q-code 428 installed in 1968 Galaxies lacked the 427 low-riser heads, high-rise intake manifold, and 735-cfm Holley bestowed upon same-year Mustang and Fairlane Cobra Jet 428 engines.
Ford charged Galaxie XL buyers a mere $204.64 for the GT equipment group. Only offered on the XL fastback or convertible with 390 or 428 power, the GT goodies added power front disc brakes, maximum handling suspension, a high-ratio rear axle, simulated mag wheel covers, nonreflective GT tape stripes, GT ornamentation, and 6.70-15 Wide Oval tires.
Ford charged Galaxie XL buyers a mere $204.64 for the GT equipment group. Only offered on the XL fastback or convertible with 390 or 428 power, the GT goodies added power front disc brakes, maximum handling suspension, a high-ratio rear axle, simulated mag wheel covers, nonreflective GT tape stripes, GT ornamentation, and 6.70-15 Wide Oval tires.
The warranty tag survived and displays the coveted Q engine code in the fifth spot. Other data includes: body code 63C (XL500 hardtop), color R (dark green metallic), trim RGA (gold vinyl interior), date 12B (built on Feb. 12, 1968), DSO 51 (originally delivered to a Ford dealer in Denver, CO), axle G (3.25:1 ratio), and transmission 5 (wide ratio four-speed).
The warranty tag survived and displays the coveted Q engine code in the fifth spot. Other data includes: body code 63C (XL500 hardtop), color R (dark green metallic), trim RGA (gold vinyl interior), date 12B (built on Feb. 12, 1968), DSO 51 (originally delivered to a Ford dealer in Denver, CO), axle G (3.25:1 ratio), and transmission 5 (wide ratio four-speed).
Few things are cooler than a fullsize muscle car with a four-speed stick. Note the chrome-edged brake and clutch pedals. The manual choke cable is not factory issued. Though a column shifted three-speed was the base transmission in all big Fords for 1968, the four-speed cost $184.02 and was only available with the 390 four-barrel and 428. Ford sales literature said four-speeds were not available in station wagons, but a few may have been built.
Few things are cooler than a fullsize muscle car with a four-speed stick. Note the chrome-edged brake and clutch pedals. The manual choke cable is not factory issued. Though a column shifted three-speed was the base transmission in all big Fords for 1968, the four-speed cost $184.02 and was only available with the 390 four-barrel and 428. Ford sales literature said four-speeds were not available in station wagons, but a few may have been built.
The numbers-matching Top Loader four-speed escaped unscathed. The engine, while crispy on the outside, came through the fire without internal damage. Fullsize Fords got wide-ratio gear sets with a 2.78:1 Low gear. The extra torque multiplication helped off-the-line scoot and prolonged clutch life. Close-ratio Top Loaders got a 2.32:1 First gear to reduce spread between ratios and the rpm drop during upshifts.
The numbers-matching Top Loader four-speed escaped unscathed. The engine, while crispy on the outside, came through the fire without internal damage. Fullsize Fords got wide-ratio gear sets with a 2.78:1 Low gear. The extra torque multiplication helped off-the-line scoot and prolonged clutch life. Close-ratio Top Loaders got a 2.32:1 First gear to reduce spread between ratios and the rpm drop during upshifts.