At some point in the 1930s, transmission shifters began to move from the floor to the column because it gave front passengers more room. However, by the advent of the “Horsepower Race” in the mid/late-1950s, a floor-shifted transmission was desperately needed, especially since the top motors for all hot brands were saddled with clunky “three-on-the-tree” column shifters.
By the time this 1961 Ford Galaxie was built, column-shifted three-speed manuals were still common, and Ford had yet to offer a floor shifter for it. Engines as high as 401 horsepower were offered for this vehicle, but it was a tough task to put all that power to the ground and get down the 1320 in winning fashion when Pontiac and Chevrolet offered proper 4-speed trannys on the floor and Mopars had a pretty stout TorqueFlite “Dial-A-Winner” automatic.
This Galaxie has the common version of the 390 rated at 300 horsepower. However, the owner built the motor to Police Interceptor specs, which was another 330 horses. Solid lifters brought it up to 375 horsepower, and a dealer-installed tri-carb setup brought it up to a magical 401 horses – the most out of any hi-po car in America at that time. This was the first time that a Ford crossed the 400hp threshold since 1958 when Mercury offered the Super Marauder 430.
Of course, Hurst became prominent around this time because they offered kits to convert column shifters to the floor. The linkage also was so superior to that being offered by Detroit that Hurst became one of the first aftermarket companies to have its products offered as OEM.