Close this search box.

Starstruck: get a load of ‘EZPEEL’, New Zealand’s toughest Galaxie

17 March 2016


With over 600hp on tap and an immaculate finish, Mike Kitson’s Galaxie is nothing short of a superstar

Mike had just finished building his ’65 two-door LTD when I first met him. It was a nice all-round car, with deep gloss black paintwork, the right stance and a big motor. I was surprised to hear just a few weeks later that the car had been sold. “He decided the kids needed a swimming pool, so sold the car to pay for it,” I was informed. At the time it seemed like a strange move, but around a year later I heard he was building a new car and it all clicked into place.

Mike’s a bit of a Ford man, and over the years he’s had all sorts of different models, but always longed for a ’63½ Galaxie. After finding one on the internet in average condition, he shipped it down to our part of the world where it would soon undergo major surgery. The plan from the very start was to build the car to a level at which it could take out the coveted People’s Choice award at the Kumeu Car Show. As those who have attended Kumeu will know, this is no simple task. 

Mike and his family run Greenpark Panel and Paint, a large collision repair centre, so sorting out that part of the build wouldn’t be a problem. But with just nine months to the vehicle’s intended debut, Mike was going to be busy.

The only way to get the car ready in time was to think smart and have various parts worked on at the same time. So while the team at Greenpark dealt to the body and chassis, Jason Loose from Cut Loose Upholstery set about building one of the most impressive interiors this country has ever seen. Luxurious red leather and matching plush carpet now cover every centimetre of the cabin. The vast expanse that is the vehicle’s boot is also finished to the same exacting standard as the interior. It is this attention to detail — which flows throughout the entire vehicle — that really sets it apart from anything else on the road. 

Back at Greenpark the body was removed from the chassis, and the chassis was fully stripped in preparation for its new coat of gloss black. 

But first a triangulated four-link was fitted to allow removal of the stock leaf springs. Once completed the chassis looked every bit as good as the exterior of the car now does.
Next up it was the body’s turn to go black. Not happy with how it came out the first time round, Mike decided to strip it back and do it again. Calling him a perfectionist is something of an understatement, so you can imagine the heartache when the body was then damaged on the back of a tow truck. Once again it was in the panel shop being straightened out, and a full new coat of that beautiful deep black was applied. 

While there was plenty of swearing going on in the body department, Dave Moyle was having great success piecing together the motor. Using a 1971 429ci big block as a starting point, Dave had Franklin Engineering balance up the new internals that would take its capacity out to an impressive 514ci (that’s 8423cc for you young ones out there). 

When first pieced together the Edelbrock Airgap manifold was fitted with an 870cfm carb. These days it has been replaced with a 1000cfm Holley. “Fark does it like petrol,” Mike says, before adding philosophically, “Still, I think I’ve gone through more tyres than gas.” 
The big motor isn’t just for show. Mike and Dave have chosen the right components to ensure it has more than enough power to make for an exciting ride. As if the 600hp it now makes at the crank wasn’t enough, there’s an extra 250hp of nitrous sitting ready to go at the press of a button. 

To help the big motor achieve these power figures, it’s fitted with Super Cobra Jet alloy heads with 2.2-inch intake and 1.760-inch exhaust valves along with a Crower cam. 

Though it was sold as a performance vehicle back in ’63, the Galaxie’s driveline was never intended to take this much grunt. To ensure there are never any reliability problems, the diff housing has been replaced with a nine-inch item sourced from a Ford F250 truck. Thanks to Steelie Gears, a Detroit True Trac head is now in charge of spinning Moser 31-spline axles. As we found out after our photoshoot with Mike, the car really doesn’t have a problem with turning those 18-inch Goodyears into smoke.

While the temptation to fit larger wheels is there, the car looks so well balanced with the 18-inch hoops that Mike has decided to keep it that way. Behind the wheels the AU Falcon front brake calipers have just enough room to fit around BA Falcon discs. Down the rear the stock drums have also been replaced with AU calipers. 

To keep the engine bay clutter free, a twin master cylinder system has been used, and a remote brake booster is now hidden up under the dash. At first there were a few issues with the brakes, but nowadays they pull up the big heavy car with ease.

With the high power, big brakes and a suspension set-up consisting of adjustable Bilstein coil-overs all round and heavy duty HQ front springs, the car now goes, stops and handles as a modern sports car would, with the exception that there’s no power steering. Mike is not averse to installing it, however, as it will allow his ever-understanding wife Melissa to drive the car too. 

When reassembling the vehicle, only the best fittings were used throughout to keep the car at the highest quality possible. Western Auto Electrical was responsible for rewiring the entire vehicle from end to end, and no wiring is visible whatsoever. It’s the small touches that make a big difference. 

The new chrome work and custom side glass were fitted just days before the Kumeu show. Thanks to some impressive displays from other entrants, the Galaxie might not have been the most eye-catching car in the venue. But those who looked at it did so for great lengths of time, and always walked away amazed with its build quality. Come prize-giving time, all present knew it was going to be very close, but much to Mike’s delight, the top gong was his. Mission accomplished.

Just because the car is immaculate that doesn’t mean Mike is afraid of driving it. “It’s been in a few shows, so now I just want to get out there and enjoy it. I don’t think I will ever sell it, it’s just too much fun to drive,” he says. “I sold the last one to fund the pool, and have recently moved house. The kids are going to have to wait a long time for another pool now.” In fact, Mike has already started thinking of what he will get next, and what level he will build it to. Kids, I think you may be better off saving any money you can get your hands on. Daddy has some very serious plans, and they don’t include a pool.  

1963½ Ford Galaxie 500 

  • Engine: 514ci big block Ford, 429 block, Eagle crank, Eagle rods, JE pistons, Melling high volume oil pump, Rollmaster timing gear, ARP fasteners, Felpro gasket set, competition head gaskets, Crower cam, solid lifters, Jomar stud girdle, Manley stainless valves, 2.20-inch intake valves, 1.25-inch exhaust valves, Ford Racing 429 Super Cobra Jet alloy heads, Holley 1000cfm carb, John Kaase Racing Engines pushrods, MSD distributor, MSD 6AL ignition, MSD Blaster coil, NOS Cheater system, Romac harmonic balancer, High Energy oil pan, Clevite bearings, modified Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold, XRP fittings, 2.25-inch headers, four-inch collectors, three-inch exhaust, aluminium radiator, two Demon fuel pumps
  • Driveline: C6 transmission, F250 diff housing, Moser 31-spline axles, Detroit True Trac head
  • Suspension: Triangulated four-bar rear, adjustable Bilstein coilover suspension, HQ front springs, 31mm sway bar
  • Brakes: AU2 Ford calipers, 295mm BA Falcon discs, AU2 rear discs, twin master cylinders, VH44 booster, 
  • Wheels/Tyres: 18×8 and 18×10-inch Boyd Coddington rims, 245/40R18 and 315/35R18 Yokohama tyres
  • Exterior: Custom bonnet scoop
  • Interior: B&M Ratchet shifter, Auto Meter gauges, full red leather retrim
  • Performance: 600hp; 250hp nitrous shot

This article was originally published in NZV8 Issue No. 40. You can pick up a print copy of the magazine below: