In the late 1950s and early ’60s, it was the full-size cars offered by the Big Three manufacturers that kept enthusiasts coming back for more. By 1960, the intermediates were still a few years away from entering production and Ford was now offering the less-than-thrilling compact Falcon, but with models like the GalaxieSunliner and Starliner, there was still plenty to get excited about within the Blue Oval camp. When Robert Fuchs, a self-employed farmer from Arlington, Nebraska, first began seeing ads for the Ford Starliner, it was love at first sight.
“I graduated from Arlington High School in May of 1961 and decided to treat myself to a graduation present by ordering a new Starliner,” Robert recalls. “Dad and I went to Diers Ford in Fremont, Nebraska, and we were told that the assembly plant was ending production, so they probably would not be able to fill any more orders for the remainder of the ’61 model run. I was really disappointed!”
Not to be deterred, Robert and his dad pushed harder on the salesman, who soon said that the dealership had placed an inventory order for one in white with a red interior and that he might be able to make some last-minute changes. “I wanted a blue one instead, and the salesman said he would call the Twin Cities plant and call us back later in the day,” Robert says. “True to his word, the salesman called back in an hour and said they had six Starliners left on the assembly line, and he had made arrangements that mine would be the last one assembled and as I had ordered it, in blue with a blue interior.”
As promised, this 1961 Ford Starliner was the last car off the assembly line at the Twin Cities, Minnesota plant for the 1961 run, and Robert took delivery on July 3 of that year. The Starliner came equipped from the factory with the 352-cu.in. V-8, three-speed column-shifted manual transmission, 7.50 x 14 Goodyear white-sidewall tires, hub caps, backup lamps, cloth and vinyl bench seats, padded dash and visors, full carpeting, tinted glass all around, cigarette lighter, clock, push-button AM radio, and the all-important Cambridge Blue exterior paint. Base price was $2,730 and with options and destination charge the final MSRP was $3,056. Robert was given $600 in trade for his 1952 Ford Victoria, his high school car.
With all-new styling for 1961, the Galaxie Starliner (a two-door hardtop with semi-fastback roofline) was more rounded, sleeker, and much more cleanly styled than the previous year. The model retained a few of the 1960 design cues such as the lower beltline trim, bright-metal rock guards behind the rear wheel openings, and the signature trio of star emblems on the C-pillars. Although the Starliner still had rear quarter fins that were popular in the late ’50s, they were much smaller and clearly understated
The car’s real beauty, however, stood out in the rear, with jet-age-styled taillamps that contained backup lamps centered within. All Starliners rode on a 119-inch wheelbase and used upper and lower A-arms and coil springs up front and a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Just 29,669 Starliners were produced in 1961, making them a rare sight today.