Imitation is considered the finest form of flattery. The stylists at Pontiac had the biggest confidence booster in the form of imitations from multiple brands for Model Year 1965. From cars as diverse as the Mercury Comet to Fraternal Luxury brand Cadillac, brands adopted Pontiac’s signature stacked headlamps. Some also adopted the fullness at the ‘hips.’
No brand got flack for it more than Ford. Their mostly revamped under the skin Full Sized Models were derisively called “The Box the 1963 Pontiac came in.” Burned by that assertion, Ford massaged the look to mesmerize buyers and critics the following seasons on sale. From hips sprouting pubescent curves and a bit more rake to the headlamps, The 1966 full sized Ford strived for a unique identity all it’s own.
For 1966, at least there’d be a family unity to these faces. The intermediate Fairlane ditched the “generic American Sedan” look it carried for 1965. There was now solidarity among the most familiar faces from the cars on offer from Dearborn. Underneath it all was the best and brightest Ford had to offer. Coil Springs at all 4 corners replaced leaf springs in 1965.
Television ads touted the LTD in particular as being “quieter than a Rolls-Royce.” Although the brougham innovator sedans aimed at the near luxury market, the same quality improvements filtered down to less expensive offerings in the Full Sized Ford line-up. Competition was stiff, however, as both full-sized Chevrolets and Plymouths were equally new and innovative under the skin. Our particular photo example has the debatable V8 choice of the FE-Series 352 cube V8. Not particularly known for performance or efficiency, it convinced many a Ford buyer to stick with the smaller 289 V8 or opt up to the 390 V8.
When that distinctiveness of powerplant and plushness comes into play, full sized Fords still maintained items of their identity, for better or worse. From the rear we can still see the effort to keep the “Bulls-eye” tail lamp theme that had been a Ford mainstay since 1952. At the end of the day, the big Fords of the near-late 1960’s reflected an attractive bargain for those wanting a little bit more cushion in their cruisers than competitive brands.
It was highly influential. Plymouth softened their spring rates, making their traditionally taunt Torsion-Aire ride more boulevard billowy like Ford. Chevrolet quickly applied burled walnut appliques and a formal roofline to Caprice Coupes in the pretense of faux luxury that Ford established in the low price field.
While the 1965-67 Fords might be derided as imitative boxes, they pushed a number of their rivals to think outside of the box in the pursuit of sales volume and profit. 50 years later, Fords still maintain a bit more credibility and cachet as one clicks off option boxes for the more luxurious offerings of the brand. By following and finding pieces that worked best in the automotive market place, Ford finds itself surviving as the fittest of the Big Three manufacturers. Carefully crafted pieces for consumer desires like the 1966 Galaxie convertible are products of the past that help give Ford the last laugh today.