DECEMBER 2023: 1964 FORD GALAXIE 500 XL SOHC CAMMER TRIBUTE—IT STARTED WITH A NOISE

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The Ford 427 cammer (single overhead cam/SOHC) is the stuff of legends because they were rated at over 600 horsepower right from the factory.

The Ford cammers were ready to face off against the mighty Chrysler 426 hemi in NASCAR when Bill France threw a flag on both engines before the 1965 season.

That decision was NASCAR’s biggest loss because those heavyweights would have been an incredible show on the track.

Wynne Hollingshead was at a car show when he heard the thunder of a motor he didn’t quite recognize. The noise turned out to be a Ford cammer big block in a Ford Starliner —Wynne knew he was hooked.

He didn’t even have a car to put a cammer in, but that wasn’t important. Wynne knew he’d own a cammer. He went to a legendary name—Elliott Racing in Dawsonville, Georgia. NASCAR fans will note owner George Elliott’s brother Bill Elliott was a force in NASCAR and Bill’s son Chase is a current superstar, so the Elliott name brings big credibility.

The hunt for the 427 aluminum cammer block wasn’t easy, so it took over a year to find one. Meanwhile Wynne located a 1964 Ford Galaxie XL 500 two-door hardtop at an estate sale that had been restored,  so it was perfect for a tribute car.

The Elliott team was thrilled to work on the SOHC 427, so it became a project everyone wanted to work on over the course of months. Wynn said, “Ernie Elliott thought this engine was their baby, so he took great pride in building it”.

Wynn has made some interesting connections because of this legendary engine beyond the Elliotts. Ed Pink is a legendary engine builder who was a force in the 60s and 70s horsepower wars in drag racing. Wynne has spent hours on the phone talking to Ed about the Ford SOHC engines—he described those conversations as a huge event in his life. Wynn said Ed “would go on and on about the cammers”—it’s an experience he’ll never forget.

The Galaxie made an excellent base for this engine, but it’s so big, it barely fit—even in the massive space available under the hood of a full-sized 1964 Ford. The headers squeaked into the allotted space, but they were a bit of an engineering feat.

There are some concessions to the massive heat generated by this giant big block, so there are electric fans to soak up the fire generated by an SOHC Ford.

Wynne is a racing historian, so he knows how the cammer played out in the real world. He calls it a “larger than life legend” so Wynne recognizes how lucky he is to own an engine that was basically outlawed before it hit the NASCAR tracks. Wynne said legends like Ned Jarrett were slated to drive the Ford cammers—he wonders how much racing history would have changed had they allowed to run the big, bad, Ford engine.   

Wynne doesn’t have to wonder how a cammer would run in a ’64 Ford—he just has to look in his garage.

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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