Writing: Dave Smith
Photos: Matt Woods
How do you follow up one of Europe’s fastest street cars? With an outrageous street cruiser like this Galaxie.
Some people are just living the dream. This guy is one of them. He’s owned plenty of American cars and hot rods over the years, raced his own rail at a California nostalgia meet, and raced one of Europe’s fastest record setting street legal cars. Now he has this amazing street cruiser, which has a paint job so incredibly perfect and precise that it could be the paintwork equivalent of the engineering that goes into a seven- second engine.
From that paragraph you’ve probably guessed that we’re talking about West Yorkshire’s Steve Neimantas, the chap who, until recently, owned that amazing Topspeed Street Eliminator Bentley. So surely stepping out of a seven- second Bentley and into a kerb-crawling lowrider is a major step down? Not really; everyone needs a daily, right?
“I went to Bakersfield Hot Rod Reunion last October,” says Steve, “and behind the grandstands there’s a bit of a car show’n’shine area. That’s where I saw this Galaxie, on the Saturday, just parked up with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window but no price. Just from looking at the paint, I assumed the price would be stratospheric. I went back on the Sunday and it wasn’t there, but I spotted a guy with a ’57 Ford that had been painted by the same painter, and the guy turned out to be a friend of the Galaxie owner from the local car club, the Loco Banditos. I got chatting to him and he put me in touch with Joe, the Galaxie owner, so on the Monday I went over to see him. He had a unit nearby in Bakersfield, and inside was the Galaxie and, under a dust sheet, an amazing roof-chopped ’59 Impala in tangerine paint. I bought them both!”
“So surely stepping out of a seven- second Bentley and into a kerb- crawling lowrider is a major step down? Not really; everyone needs a daily, right?”
“I flew back to Heathrow, and as I was driving up the M1 I realised I’d just bought two cars and had nowhere to put them! I had a black ’68 Charger with a 572, and a friend of mine, Martin, had always said he’d buy it if it ever came up for sale, so I called him and told him it was available. I’d heard that he’d been looking to buy Richard Billings’ twin-turbo Mustang Street Eliminator car, and mentioned that if he fancied the Bentley, too, I’d do a deal on the pair. That was on a Monday; by Sunday they’d both gone. Before I went to Bakersfield I’d had no intention of selling either.”
“At the time, the Bentley engine was away being refreshed at EDA, so Martin took the car and came back much later for the engine, just before Easter. I was sad to see it go. I’d debuted it at the Main Event in 2014, then run if for that season and last year’s season. I’d run down as low as 7.30 in that car. A couple of years ago I bought the front-engined dragster that I ran at Bakersfield, and that’s run 7.6, not as quick as the Bentley, but it should run low sevens when we wind it up a bit, maybe even high sixes. It’s over here now, sat in my conservatory! I still have my old Street Eliminator Aston Martin, too.”
“That was on a Monday; by Sunday they’d both gone. Before I went to Bakersfield I’d had no intention of selling either”
“I’ve had American cars for years – it’s been 30 years since my first run up the strip at York – but I’ve always loved cruisers. I have a ’64 Biscayne, and before I saw the Galaxie I’d been thinking about doing something similar with it, but I can’t begin to imagine the time involved in a paint job like that. Considering the work involved, I got the car for nothing. It’s had a mountain of work done on it – the AccuAir E-level air suspension, discs on all four corners, a Thunderbird interior with new leather… you couldn’t get close to building it for what I paid for it.”
“It still has its original 352 Y-block and three-speed column-shift auto, and all mostly stock. It’s not fast, but it’s not meant to be. It drives beautifully, you just get in, turn the key and you’re away. For a 50-odd- year-old American car it’s a lovely drive. I don’t have any plans for it other than to keep it and drive it, because it needs nothing, everything works and does what it should. It’s not mint so I don’t mind parking it on the street or in a supermarket car park, and I don’t worry about people touching it. The Impala is the opposite; the paint is so flawless that it’s almost too good to use. Plus it’s been roof chopped and I’m six feet four, so I end up crouching in it! The Galaxie I’ll just jump in and go anywhere and it doesn’t miss a beat. I think this is the first Ford I’ve ever owned.”
“ I’ve had lots of cars over the last 30 years, but nothing makes people stop and stare like this”
“Everywhere inside is painted; just the work in the seat-backs alone is out of this world, you could hang them on the wall as art. They really went to town on the whole car, except the engine bay, which is all original and looks like it’s been Schutzed. Otherwise, it’s an eyeful of a car! I’ve had lots of cars over the last 30 years, but nothing makes people stop and stare like this. They probably think the circus is in town…”