Desert Star – Bill Raper’s Soul Red 1967 Galaxie is Out of This World
Bill Raper has had a long, varied list of top-notch hot rods through the years, with this 1967 Galaxie being one of his latest. Actually, the car was completed just in time for the 2020 show season and well, we all know what happened the weekend of the opening Goodguys event in Texas. After returning from Fort Worth, Bill parked the car, threw a cover over it, and impatiently waited for some sort of normalcy to return.
A year later, the next Goodguys season kicked off at the Texas Motor Speedway and Bill was there with the ’67 to wow to crowds. He continued to roll the tricked-out Galaxie to a number of events, racking up accolades and awards at each one before scoring a coveted Gazette Feature Pick at Scottsdale. The Ford is a study in how to blend modern performance, amenities, and aesthetics with classic car form, which is exactly what Bill set out to achieve.
Living in Peoria, Arizona, provides Bill the benefit of seeking out solid, dry subjects to start with and he was able to locate an ideal 500 XL candidate. “I decided to build a 1967 Galaxie because I like the stacked headlights and this was the last year for them,” Bill says. “Plus, you don’t see a lot of Galaxies built into high-end show cars.”
Bill turned to his trusted build partner, Travis McGuire, the owner of TM Customs to head up the project. His team disassembled the old Ford and took it down to bare metal before any modifications were to start. Bill wanted the car to sit low and already planned on a modern Coyote drivetrain, so TM Customs got busy on the unibody platform with a Fat Man IFS up front while building a custom four-link out back.
Bill planned to keep the stock hood, which meant finding a lot of space between the crossmember and hood; the Coyote wasn’t simply going to just slide in place where the 390 once resided. To help gain the required clearance, Travis modified the new crossmember along with a number of other time-consuming alterations to get the engine in the right position. They even ended up fabricating a sleeker engine cover to gain another 1/2-inch of clearance!
The transmission tunnel required a major reworking to accept the girth of the 6R80 transmission and provide clearance for the driveshaft through the range of the RideTech Shockwaves. The 9-inch rearend is supported by the aforementioned four-link suspension, which is raised up into the chassis, forcing a raised trunk floor and a custom fuel tank. The ideal ride height was finalized with 18×8- and 20×9-inch Budnik wheels and Michelin 245/45R18 and 255/40R20 tread.
When it came time for paint and body, Krazy Kenny’s Paint, along with Travis, worked long and hard to accentuate the factory Ford body lines for a sharper appearance. All of the gaps were tightened considerably, Kindig-It door handles were flush mounted, emblems were shaved, and the bumpers were modified to tuck in tight to the body. Equal attention was paid under the hood, where an amazing radiator surround, inner fenders, and a custom firewall were all fabricated. Once deemed perfect, Crazy Kenny laid down a stunning PPG Soul Red color that absolutely glows in the sunlight.
When it came time for the interior, Bill entrusted Armando’s Upholstery to stitch the original 1967 Galaxie bucket seats in a complementary auburn leather. A custom console was also covered along with the door panels highlighted with one-off chrome trim and leather accents. The dash, which Chevy fans will recognize as a modified ’60 Impala unit, is filled with Dakota Digital gauges with Ron Francis wiring hidden behind. An Ididit tilt column is topped with a Budnik steering wheel and surrounded with power windows, high-output audio, Vintage Air, and other creature comforts.
It took about six years for the 1967 Galaxie to come to life as a modern custom muscle machine, all as Bill juggled other projects. He feels that he and his build team achieved exactly what they set out to do, and judging by the comments, the “ohs and ahs,” and thumbs up that we heard and witnessed throughout the 2021 season, we’d have to agree.
The Galaxie certainly matches the style and vision Bill’s other cars have followed, such as his ’54 Pontiac that won the Goodguys Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year title in 2014, or his award-winning ’54 Chevy pickup. For 2022, watch for another ’54 Poncho, this time a convertible, to make a number of events. A little further down the road, Bill’s wife Carol will have a Coyote-powered ’57 Thunderbird hitting the scene, too. Based on Bill’s track record, we expect them both to be standouts.
Photos by John Jackson & Damon Lee