Unassuming 1960 Ford Starliner Is a Rare Sleeper With a Hi-Po V8

1960 Ford Starliner 14 photos
Photo: overhoj0pyz/eBay
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The 1950s was a rather busy decade for the automotive industry. Cars were evolving at a never-before-seen pace, and US automakers were introducing some of their most iconic nameplates at the time. Ford, for instance, debuted the Fairlane, Galaxie, and Thunderbird by the end of the decade.
Launched in 1958, the Galaxie was aimed at the then-new Chevrolet Impala and quickly became one of America's best-selling full-size cars. It soldiered on until 1974, spawning a long list of special-edition cars and even a few NASCAR- and drag-spec rigs. The Starline is one of the rarest.

Introduced in 1960, it was one of two special body style models destined to spice up the Galaxie lineup. The other one was the Sunliner convertible. What made the Starline special? Well, it featured the range-topping Galaxie trim and sported an aggressive fastback-like roof with thin pillars. It was essentially a forerunner to the 1963 1/2 Galaxie fastback but conceived without NASCAR ambitions.

The Starliner shared drivetrain components with the Galaxie, starting with the aging 292-cubic-inch (4.8-liter) Y-block V8 as standard. But Ford also offered a 352-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) FE-series option and, beginning in 1961, the 390-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) "Thunderbird."

The latter was the most potent at 375 horsepower, but many people don't know that Ford also offered a beefed-up 352 V8 in mid-1960. Featuring higher compression, a performance camshaft, cast tubular high-flow headers, and an aluminum intake manifold, the so-called "Hi-Po" version generated 360 horsepower. And it was, at the of its release, the most potent Ford mill. But because it wasn't advertised accordingly, it didn't sell in high numbers then. Come 2023, the Starliner Hi-Po is a relatively unknown model outside the Ford fan club.

How many of these Hi-Po-powered Starliners were built? Well, it remains a mystery because there's no available production breakdown based on firepower. However, many Ford experts agree that the company sold around 5,000 cars with the 352 Hi-Po in 1960. But this figure includes all Galaxy models, so the Starliner output is much lower than that. But regardless of how many were made, only a few of these fastback Hi-Po cars are still around.

They rarely pop up for sale, and all-original survivors are rarer than hen's teeth. If you haven't seen an unmolested Starliner yet, you can check out this family-owned Hi-Po that surfaced after 50 years in 2021. But I'm actually here to show you a fully restored example, which is also hard to come by. This one popped up for sale in Lathrop, California, and it's probably one of the finest Starliners out there.

Finished in light blue and sporting a matching interior with striped seat inserts, it looks showroom-new and sports a long list of replacement parts. The engine compartment is just as gorgeous, and the 352 V8 received a total rebuild. The owner says the mill was bored .030 over and that many internals are brand-new. It also features all-new fuel lines, an aluminum water pump, an aluminum radiator, and a 650 CFM carburetor.

Given the heavy upgrading, the 352 V8 likely cranks out more than 360 horsepower, but there's no info on how potent it really is. But needless to say, this Starliner is a fully-fledged sleeper that could easily outrun contemporary Ford and Chevys with bigger engines. How much will it take to park this unassuming hot rod in your driveway? The bidding is at $20,800 as of this writing, with the reserve still in place, but restored Starliners are known to fetch more than $30,000 at auctions.
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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