Home » The Wide World Of Wagons: 1959 Hillman Husky vs 1973 Ford Galaxie

The Wide World Of Wagons: 1959 Hillman Husky vs 1973 Ford Galaxie

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Welcome to another week of bad car ideas! This week, we’re looking at vehicles that are too old to require smog checks anywhere, which means typically 1974 or 1975 or older, depending on where you live. Some will run, some won’t, but I have a pretty wide selection of vehicles open in tabs right now, so there should be something for everybody.

But first, let’s finish off Friday’s mini-minivan battle. Lots of love for both choices in the comments, but the Mazda came away the winner. For me, I think this might be another case where a test drive would be the deciding factor.

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However, generally speaking, I feel more confident looking at cars from private sellers than from the massive used car lots lining 82nd Avenue. We have bought a couple of cars from that fabled boulevard of broken-down dreams over the years, and while none of them have been an unmitigated disaster, none of them have been exactly what they seemed to be, either. I think, all things being equal, I’d give the nod to the car coming from the person who actually drove it for a while.

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So now let’s turn our attention to an older form of people-mover: the station wagon. That broad categorization is about the only thing these two have in common, however. Let’s check them out.

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1959 Hillman Husky Gasser – $3,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 350 cubic inch overhead valve V8, no transmission right now, RWD

Location: San Andreas, CA

Odometer reading: 60,000 miles, but I don’t think it matters

Operational status: Has no transmission, so…

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If you’re unfamiliar with the term “gasser,” let me direct your attention to one of my favorite sites to use for reference photos when building model cars: George Klass Remembers. (In fact, if this car was raced in the ’60s in Southern California, there’s a chance it might be in there somewhere.) Basically, the “Gas Sedan/Coupe” drag racing class required a stock body, and gasoline for fuel, but other than that, pretty much anything went. Cars were categorized by power-to-weight ratio, so starting with a small, lightweight car to begin with was a huge advantage. The diminutive Hillman Husky is an uncommon choice, but a great one.

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As originally sold by Hillman, the Husky was the two-door wagon version of the Hillman Minx, equipped with a tiny four-cylinder engine putting out 51 horsepower. Plenty for English roads in the late 1950s, but woefully unsuited to California’s drag racing scene. This Husky has had a little help in that department, in the form of a Chevy 350 small-block engine, a narrowed GM rear axle, and the traditional gasser-style straight front axle on leaf springs in place of the stock front suspension. This was done to lighten and raise the front of the car, to transfer weight to the rear wheels for traction.

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Sitting between that small-block and the rear axle is, currently, nothing at all. Obviously, the stock Hillman four-speed manual would simply disintegrate under the torque of the Chevy motor, and drag racing is the one place in motorsports where automatic transmissions have a distinct advantage. Two-speed GM “Powerglide” transmissions were common, and I’d imagine that was what once sat between this car’s frame rails. If you want to drive it on the street, a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 350 is probably a better choice.

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Apart from the incomplete drivetrain, this car looks like it’s a pretty good project. It’s not rusty, or banged-up, and the seller says it was street-legal. It has new front wheels and tires, and it looks like someone has been doing some work on the engine. And it has two seats, so you can scare the hell out of a good friend once you get it running.

1973 Ford Galaxie 500 Country Sedan – $3,950

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Engine/drivetrain: 460 cubic inch overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: University Place, WA

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Odometer reading: 94,000 miles

Operational status: Unclear, but it sounds like it runs and drives

In the market for something a little calmer and more complete? Here we have a Ford Galaxie Country Sedan. You thought BMW calling a four-door crossover a “coupe” was confusing? For years, Ford called its station wagons sedans. “But,” you’re about to say, “what about the Country Squire? Wasn’t that the name of the Galaxie wagon?” Yes – if it had the fake woodgrain on the side. The unadorned wagons were called Country Sedans.

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This particular Country Sedan is powered by Ford’s gargantuan 460 cubic inch V8 and a three-speed automatic. It’s equipped with a limited-slip rear axle, which the seller refers to as “posi,” short for Positraction, which was GM’s name for such an axle; I believe Ford calls it Traction-Lok. Whatever you call it, the idea is that you get normal differential action when turning corners, but equal or near-equal torque is sent to both rear wheels when the going gets slippery. (It also produces unique tire marks.) The seller doesn’t expressly say this car runs and drives, but they do say the air conditioner doesn’t work, which makes it sound like everything else does work.

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Cosmetically, it’s a mixed bag. Most of the interior looks pretty good, but the carpet is completely missing. Was it water-damaged? Pulled up to repair rust in the floors? Hard to say. But the vinyl upholstery, door panels, and dash all look fine. It also has inward-facing seats in the “way back” that can each seat two, making this a ten-passenger vehicle, but they’re missing their back cushions.

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Outside, it mostly just looks tired. The paint is chalky, and it’s missing some trim on the rocker panels, but I don’t see any obvious rust. The plastic grille is partially broken, of course, like it is all these old Galaxies. But it’s totally drivable as-is, and it would draw a crowd at any car gathering, even scruffy like this.

Two very different vehicles, with two very different missions, but both are worth taking a look at, I think. On one hand, you have a tiny British wagon with a drag-racing pedigree, and on the other, a classic “Family Truckster” from the station wagon’s glory days. Or – now here’s an interesting notion – you could get both, and use the Galaxie to tow the Hillman to the drag strip.

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
1 month ago

Time to bring the USS Galaxie into the wind and launch fighters!

CRX89
CRX89
1 month ago

I’m a little late to the party but I should leave this here.
Reverend Horton Heat – Galaxie 500

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

The last time a Hillman Husky showed up, I voted for it, because it ran and I wanted to ride with my husky in a husky (yo dawg). But this time, nah, too much scratch for someone else’s project. Gimme the wagon.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 month ago

Ford, please. Unparalleled majesty — and if things go south, we can always move into it!

JDE
JDE
1 month ago

For the Ford BB 460 and the card table rear seat the Giant Brown Turd of a wagon gets the nod here. but honestly neither are that interesting for the prices asked.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

I came to vote Husky. BUT the incomplete some other dudes project overly expensive unless a dragster project convince me to vote Galaxy

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

Photo shoot at the “U-Stor, we eventually liquidate”. Just sayin’

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

BOTH. And this is from a man who hates just about everything.

V8 Fairmont Longroof
V8 Fairmont Longroof
1 month ago

Brown V8 station wagon – doesn’t get much more Jalo…  Autop than that! Nice price!

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

Take both, toss the 460 drivetrain into the hillman. It would be one squirrely ride.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
1 month ago

I once saw a Husky like this with an AMC 2.5. I thought that was plenty of power for it then and I still think so now.

The Ford’s (nearly) all there and in decent shape, and ready for a Home Depot run. Edit: Pretty cheap per pound of chocolate, too.

Last edited 1 month ago by FuzzyPlushroom
EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
1 month ago

I took the Ford. I’d take it for one road trip with the fam to show them how we used to do it and then sell it. Long term this would drive me nuts over time due to the gas guzzling.

Also, it looks like it comes with lots of goodies like trim and engine parts. Could also show the kids how to wrench on cars when it was so easy.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago
Reply to  EastbayLoc

Back when they used floor drains for carburettors and fire hoses as fuel lines…

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
1 month ago

Ah, good times. I guess we did have a lot more engine fires back then

LongCoolLincoln
LongCoolLincoln
1 month ago

Hey now, I got a good deal on a clean 97 Hardbody with 175k miles from a buy-here-pay-here on SE 82nd in Portland; I put another 100k on that thing over the course of a trouble-free decade, so it’s not all bad. I also worked in a bar out there—that was another story…

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