Just the Facts
Model: Galaxie XL Fastback
Owner: Meade Baldwin Jr.
Building a mild custom is an exercise in creative restraint. Too few updates and it will wind up looking like a stocker, too many and it borders on crossing into full custom territory. It's being able to find the perfect balance and knowing when to stop that separates a so-so job with a great one. Sometimes a simple shave and a haircut accented by a new stance sets the standard when the factory did an exceptional job with the initial offering. Customizers have been walking that fine line for decades and its given Meade Baldwin Jr., of Crownsville, Maryland, plenty of time to visualize just how he'd approach his latest build.
Growing up in Millersville, Maryland, Meade was indoctrinated into hot rodding almost immediately by his dad Meade Sr. and his uncle Bill Baldwin who were hard-core rodders. His earliest memories are of his dad's 1962 Ranchero set up as a straight-axle street gasser and Uncle Bill's hopped-up Deuce pickup. Living only 2 miles from Capital Raceway meant spending plenty of time at the drags with the family immersed in a steady stream of nitro and tire smoke.
Having always been a fan of full-sized Fords from the 1960s, he had always thought about taking on the build of a classic mild custom. Settling on the early Ford Galaxie body style he began a hunt for a suitable car to start with. Fortunately a good friend of his had recently unearthed a barn find 1963½ XL Fastback to use as a parts car on one of his builds. Although the car was near complete it was covered in surface rust and posed a challenge for the build. Undaunted, he made a deal and hauled the car back to his home shop to further evaluate its future. Meade wasted no time in contacting good friend Ray Bartlett, owner of The Hot Rod Garage in Denton, Maryland, to stop by and check out his latest addition. Meade shared his ideas for the rebirth of the car as a mild custom with Bartlett and it didn't take long before a game plan was set to bring the car to a whole new level. The Galaxie was trailered to The Hot Rod Garage where the build was outlined with team leader Dean Alexander who added his own unique ideas to the mix. Almost immediately the car was torn down to start the build.
With the spine in decent shape it was picked clean and all the original seams were welded and ground smooth to give it a clean look. The original Ford 9-inch rearend was then freshened up and filled with 3.0:1 gears. In order to bring the stance down to earth the rear was suspended in place by a combination of 3-inch de-arched original leaf springs combined with Monroe tube shocks. Continuing forward the frontend was completely rebuilt and treated to a pair of 2-inch dropped spindles along with Eaton Detroit Spring 2-inch dropped springs to set the pace along with Monroe tube shocks. A Flaming River power rack-and-pinion helps carve a course while a Mustang dual master moves fluid through mild steel lines to 11-inch Ford drums out back and Master Power Brakes Legend Series 11-inch vented discs and calipers bring plenty of whoa to the mix up front. When it came time to selecting rollers nothing said classic custom like a set of 15x7 Radir Tri-Rib III wheels capped with Coker Classic wide whites.
Big-bodied Fords were always known for having big power and nowhere was this more apparent than in 1963. Meade's Galaxie came with a potent 390ci V-8 nailed to the 'rails and to keep the build real it was decided to pull the original engine out and rebuild it with plenty of cutting-edge speed parts. Brinkley Auto Machine in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, took on the job and got started by filling the block with a stock crank and rods linked to TRW forged 10.5:1 pistons. An Edelbrock Performer cam sets the thump while a pair of Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads up the power topped by finned aluminum valve covers by Mooneyes. To flow plenty of fuel an Edelbrock Performer dual-quad intake breathing through a pair of matching 500-cfm carbs delivers the juice with an MSD ignition lighting the fire. To move spent gases custom headers by The Hot Rod Garage do the deed through 2-inch stainless tube exiting through Smithy's mufflers. Pushing the power rearward a 1968 Ford C6 trans massaged by Performance Automatics of Gaithersburg, Maryland, packed with a B&M 11-inch torque converter and shift kit links to the factory steel driveshaft.
With the driveline complete it was time to focus on the body. To bring the Galaxie to the next level master craftsmen Bob Wilkins and Henry Steward got started by first replacing the trunk pan as well and the lower rear quarters. They then continued by shaving the lower body side molding and rear C-connector molding as well and the rear body panel, front fender gun sights, and model nameplates. Alexander followed by fabricating one-off stainless body side moldings with custom spears. Jason Lester and Alexander then massaged every inch of the vintage steel to perfection. When everything was razor-sharp Lester filled his spray gun and laid down a dramatic coating of single-stage Axalta (DuPont) maroon suede and dazzling House of Kolor dark gold flake on the roof. Jerry Campbell of Newark, Delaware, added the icing with custom pinstriping while the mile-deep shiny stuff was by Jon Wright's Custom Chrome in Grafton, Ohio. To give the interior a distinctive style team member Beau Wilkins modified the stock dash while also creating a unique trim and dash insert complete with Classic Instruments Hot Rod Series dials. While Steward laid out the wiring Alexander masterfully reworked a set of stock Ford Galaxie XL 500 seats in a combination of pleated white and maroon vinyl. Final accents include complementing maroon loop pile carpet, tunes by Sony, and gear changes from Lokar. Standing back and studying many of the subtle updates it's easy to see that Ray Bartlett and his team nailed the mild custom look, giving the Galaxie a new lease on life. With a full tank of gas, all that's left is for Meade to hit the highway...bitchin!
For the ultimate in comfort, Dean Alexander drastically modified a set of ’63 1/2 Ford 500
Tastefully lowered and given a mild shave, Meade’s Galaxie has just the right elements to
Tasty touches include a modified stock dash, Classic Instruments for the vitals, and a Lok