This 1964 Ford Galaxie Restomod Packs A High-Voltage Punch


This 1964 Ford Galaxie Restomod Packs A High-Voltage Punch


When Mike Sallee and Rory Baldrey founded Conductive Classics in 2019, the pair found themselves venturing into the realm of EV conversions by way of traditional high-performance tuning. Conductive Classics shares its Garden City, Idaho-based facility with Sallee and Baldrey’s other venture, Throttleworks, an outfit that serves as a general hot-rodding shop for all things fast in the greater Boise area. And as Sallee explains, the catalyst to establish the former actually came about during a brainstorming session for the latter.

“We had this ’58 Chevrolet Apache that we got from a seller in Montana. It had a nice patina to it, but the six-cylinder engine it had was pretty tired. So, when we brought it into the shop, we were like, ‘OK – what are we going to do with this?’ We had done the LS swaps, the Atlas five-cylinder swaps, the Coyote swaps, and basically everything else. That’s when we decided it was time to give electric a try.” The team looked at the project as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of EV powertrains and how to make them work in platforms that they weren’t originally designed for. After doing some research and creating a parts list, they went to work.

“We thought to ourselves, ‘Oh, we’ll just knock this out over Christmas break,’” Sallee recalls. “But it didn’t quite work out that way. I think we made it more complicated for ourselves because of the way we wanted to do it, rather than the actual process of the conversion itself.”

A GM five-speed manual transmission was adapted to a Hyper 9 motor, while a Tesla battery pack provided the juice. “We had decided to put all of the controllers and other components in a toolbox in the back of the truck, so it would all be kind of hidden from view,” he says. “And then we wanted to do things like paint and patina the box, and I wanted to put in hydraulic-style quick connects on it so if the box ever needed to be removed, it wouldn’t leak into the truck. There were a lot of little things like that.”

Although their attention to detail made the conversion a more involving process than they had initially anticipated, their ambition paid off when the truck caught the attention of the folks at Street Trucks magazine during the inaugural Holley High Voltage event in 2021. “It turned out to be a great source of promotion for us, and it has been serving as our shop truck ever since.”

Not long after completing the build, Paramount Studios contracted Conductive Classics to convert half a dozen 1920s-era vehicles over to Hyper 9-based EV powertrains for use in the television series 1923 as well. “They basically needed the cars to be easier to use for the actors,” Sallee notes. “Century-old cars typically require a lot of tinkering to make them work, and that’s on top of many of them being hand-started. They’re also pretty complicated to drive once you have them going. The production team wanted to make it so someone could just get in, flip a switch, and go.”

Sallee says that Conductive Classics’ mission is less about outright performance and more about keeping old-school iron on the road and usable – a philosophy that would be epitomized by their next build.

“After the Apache, we wanted to do something that would drive farther, go faster, and haul more people. We had a K5 Blazer that we had planned to use, but after we got a Model 3 into the shop and started taking measurements, we realized that the battery pack was too big to fit into the Blazer, and you can’t really break down a Model 3’s battery pack in the way that you can with a Model S – the actual batteries inside the pack are about seven feet long. But we also happened to have a customer’s ’64 Galaxie convertible in the shop, so we got out a tape measure and discovered that the pack would fit underneath it.”

That sent the team on a hunt for a Galaxie of their own for the project, and they eventually found several worthy candidates. After some deliberation amongst the team, they decided to go with the ’64 sedan you see here, which they found in Kennewick, Washington in complete and running shape. “The seller told us that as long as we weren’t entering it in a demolition derby, he was fine with whatever we had planned. Ultimately, it’s a four dour with three on the tree, so the chances that someone was going to really bring it back to life were pretty low. And while it had a 289 under the hood, it’s a lot quicker than it was before. You can fry the tires right off of it now.”

To get the Galaxie ready for the transplant, they stripped out the motor, transmission, rear end, and all of the associated internal combustion hardware, and then devised a plan of attack for the installation of the battery. “We put the battery on a frame table and rolled it underneath the car,” he tells us. “And that’s when I realized that we basically needed to make a new frame for the car in order to accommodate it.”

After figuring out a workable design, they constructed a new frame that would provide the necessary clearance while also supporting the Tesla Model 3 rear subframe and independent rear suspension system that they were using for the project. The conversion process also provided them the opportunity to install the Ridetech air suspension system that now gives the Galaxie its hunkered-down stance.

Outfitted with a Model 3 Long Range motor and a 75kWh battery pack, Sallee estimates that the Galaxie is now working with about 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, while the Long Range model’s battery pack should provide the Galaxie with about 200 miles of range on a charge. “We’re also in the process of incorporating a Racepak SmartWire system into the car now,” he notes.

“We were still limited by what was available on the market when we put this build together – there was really only one company that made a controller for the Model 3 motor and battery. Upgrading to the SmartWire system is going to allow us to do thermal management for the battery and will also control part of the HVAC system in the car as well. Right now, the batteries are liquid-cooled through a radiator. But when they were installed in the Tesla, they could be either cooled or heated through heat exchangers in order to keep the batteries in their optimum operating temperature range. We’re basically going to recreate that setup with the SmartWire system, and that should provide more consistent performance from the batteries while also allowing us to use fast charging systems.”

While the Galaxie’s original interior was largely left untouched, there are a couple of cool surprises hidden in plain sight. “We used a Lingenfelter CAN-to-analog box to drive the fuel and temperature gauges, which now provide the battery’s state of charge and the battery temperature,” he explains. “And we have a GPS-based system that provides the speedometer’s reading.” The exterior, meanwhile, was treated to a repaint and a set of Tesla Aero wheels, but otherwise retains its original sense of style.

The build was well received when it made its debut at last year’s High Voltage event at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma County, California, but Sallee is quick to point out that it wasn’t quite ready for primetime at that point. “We were moving along at a good pace with the build, but when we found out that High Voltage was going to be a few months earlier in the year than the previous one had been, there was a bit of a rush to get it done. Minutes before it went on the trailer to go to the event, we were still polishing parts and putting them on the car.”

Now that the team has had a chance to put some miles on the Galaxie, sort out any teething issues, and plot out the aforementioned upgrades, they’ve turned their attention to their next project – a 1974 Ford Econoline E-100. “This is really our first ground-up customer build,” he says. “It’s this cool bright orange van, and the setup is going pretty similar to the Galaxie with a Model 3 Long Range battery pack and a Model 3 Performance motor. It’s going to be lowered a little bit, and he’s got some custom wheels being made for it as well.”

While EV conversions can be a divisive issue amongst car enthusiasts – particularly when it comes to vintage vehicles – Sallee points out that it’s ultimately just a new form of hot rodding. “You’re taking something out of one car, putting it in another, and figuring out how to make it work. It’s the same thing that people were doing with Ford flatheads and small-block Chevys. And for us, part of it is also about finding a way to keep these car designs on the road as things continue to change around us. That’s why I always tell people that this Galaxie is the best-looking Tesla Model 3 that they’ll ever see.”


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