Young Women Rodders – Spaced Out: Shelbie Leintz’s ’63½ Galaxie 500XL
Shelbie Leintz and her sister Ellie Wolk grew up in a hot rod family. Their father, James, has been building cars for decades, both for himself and for customers through Wolk Designs, the shop he runs with his brother, David. Spending time in the shop and going to car shows was just part of growing up for Shelbie, so it’s pretty natural for her to enjoy cruising a cool car like this ’63½ Galaxie 500XL.
Prior to the Galaxie, Shelbie had a clean custom ’49 GMC pickup she regularly took to events from her home in Leavenworth, Kansas. After four years, though, the tight confines of the cab were getting a little too cozy. She wanted something larger and, well, just different. An online search turned up the Galaxie, a clean survivor that was in good drivable condition, and she was smitten by its long lines and sleek ’60s style.
The great thing about ’60s rides like this Galaxie is that they already have relatively modern suspensions and drivetrains, making them easier to modify and refine. For the Galaxie, that meant leaving the suspension alone except for replacing warn parts and lowering the stance a little. A set of 18×7- and 18×8-inch Billet Specialties wheels wrapped in General 225/50/18 and 245/55/18 enhanced both the appearance and the ride.
Similarly, the stock 390c.i. V8 was largely left alone except for cleaning and a tune up. Updates like a Holley 600cfm four-barrel carb and Pertronix electronic ignition improved the drivability, and a dual exhaust improved the cool factor. The stock Cruise-O-Matic transmission is even still in place behind the V8 and does just fine going down the highway.
James and David are well versed in bodywork and did a great job massaging the old Ford sheet metal back into shape. It had to be good and straight, because the color choice was the factory black hue. The results speak for themselves – the DuPont paint laid down by uncle David looks sharp, straight and shiny.
The Galaxie’s interior has been largely left alone. The 500XL had a stylish bucket seat and console arrangement that fit the car’s shape and character, and Shelbie lucked out that the car even had factory A/C – a must for those hot Midwest summers.
Shelbie says she enjoys driving the Galaxie to shows and meeting other enthusiasts who share similar interests. And after years of riding in the back seat of dad’s rides, it’s all the more fun to be cruising in a cool ride of her own.
Photos by John Jackson