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Road Trip in 48 year old car

Hi Everyone,
I have a 1972 Ford Galaxie 500 that until last fall had been sitting in a shed for 5 years. I got it running with an oil change, new starter solenoid, new battery, lubricated upper cylinders and a bit of starting fluid. I then took it to the repair shop where they gave it new tires, a new fuel gauge sender, rebuilt the braking system, rebuilt the transmission, and replaced the blower motor and now it’s ready to go! Once things calm down I was planning on driving it from Wisconsin to Florida where I’m currently living, and I was wondering if there was anything you all would recommend I bring along or have additionally looked at before the trip? I was thinking in case of breakdowns, or things to be aware of, that type of thing.

If you have points, I would new points, rotor, dist cap plug wires and plugs, and carry along or replace the coil. Have the coolant hoses checked alsi, and even a new thermostat. Just me.


I drive a Caddy ten years older than your Ford, it’s in perfect condition and I wouldn’t drive it farther than 50 miles from home, or on an expressway. I would just feel unsafe. At the age of your car, and mine, metal fatigue is a factor and you can’t predict when something critical will let go. You could have the car transported by one of the well respected antique car transport companies.


There was a time when a road trip in a simple car like that was the thing to do, because it’s easy to fix and parts are easily found and cheap. But times have changed, it’s getting harder to find a shop where there’s a mechanic with enough gray hair to know how to work on a carburetor or points ignition.

Have the car checked out again, make sure all the belts and hoses are in good shape, complete tune-up, and have fun!!!

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A '72 Ford has fuel injection and probably electronic ignition. My '62 Caddy has a carburetor but I changed the ignition to electronic the week after I bought it. I’ve always thought points and condenser ignition was an invention of the Devil (via Charles F. Kettering).

Nahh, a 72 Galaxie in factory form has a 2bbl carb and points ignition. Chrysler had electronic for the 72 model year, Ford not until 74.

I had a 61 Cadillac SDV for a couple of years back in the 90’s, kept it all stock but had an extra contact set in the glove box just in case. Loved all those windows.


I’d have it shipped. But if you want to drive, I’d have the radiator removed, boiled out, and tested (edit - switched order), you’ll only find it’s a problem when you’re driving at speed on the freeway, 600 miles to the south of your current location.

I don’t know about doing a boil out, but a coolant change would certainly be in order. After the coolant change, he could use an IR thermometer or IR camera to see if there are any cold spots in the radiator. I would change the hoses while I’m at it.

I have made many a cross country trip longer than the OP’s planned one without an extra set of points, but I did have a point file in the car. Don’t know if you can even find one today.

Well, I’ve had first hand experience driving a '72 (Duster) from Cincinnati to Houston, found out in Louisiana the radiator was not up to the task. So I’d want to make 100% sure it was in great shape.

Points files were good, but woefully inadequate imhop, new points and a dwell meter was my preference. ring to remember points would develop a high spot, that corresponded to a low spot on the other side, forgetting which, something similar to a peak on the moving side and a pit on the stable side meant a bad ground connection.

Boiling it out does not insure it wont leak or blowout on you. Boiling it out only makes sure all the cores are free flowing. If the metal has corroded to the point of failure, it will fail. Most of the time it will fail at the most inconvenient time. I believe that is one of the Murphy’s Laws.


That’s why I said “tested”. In other words, whatever the radiator shop needs to do to make sure the radiator is in great shape.

I still have one. It was my dads.

If I had reason to be that concerned, I’d just replace it. The cost of removing, boiling out, testing etc is coming pretty close to the cost of a replacement these days.


That’s true.

Some time proven advice would be to do a bunch of short trips over the course of a week or so… in your local area. 50 mile 100 mile round trips near your home. You would be amazed at the things you can sort out that way… sometimes youd be amazed at what goes wrong… and others you might be pleasantly surprised… point is you wont know until you do something like this. Take it easy at first, put some miles under that Galaxy for a while and work up to the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure level of a trip.

Dont just roll out on a cross country tour without exercising it prior. Parts wise? Youve already got good info on that so…

Thats my advice.


I would also recommend a 100 mile round trip on an interstate to get a good “shake down” and then have it looked over by a good mechanic again. If you have a Winsor V-8 with 120k+ miles I would strongly suggest getting the timing chain replaced as preventative maintenance.

I drove a 1972 Ford Bronco for many years after giving it a good update on all the usual problem pieces. It was driven without a problem for 30K miles when I sold it for more than double what I paid for it. But I was a greasy mechanic and could repair anything on that old Bronco if I had the tools so you might not be quite as care free as I was.

And about points. As best I can recall Ford had gone to electronic ignition on their cars in 1972.

Hemmings says '74:

Thanks for digging that up @texases. I had looked over my shoulder at my book shelf and didn’t see an early 70s domestic car manual so I just shot from the hip.