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Phil Bonner

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By mid-year 1962, the powers at Ford fully recognized that in spite of the fact that their cars were performing well, they were still at a great weight disadvantage. It was bad enough that the GM offerings were lighter than the Fords, but the Chrysler products with their uni-body construction were in a different league while remaining in the same class. In an effort to gain equality, the construction of approximately 11 cars for drag-racing competition was ordered.

These 11 cars began life as 1962 Galaxie two-door sedans that were manufactured at Ford's Wayne, Michigan, assembly plant. Vehicle identification numbers indicated that all were August 1962 produced "G" code 406/405 equipped. Lacking a sound deadener and seam sealers, the cars were delivered to the Experimental Vehicles Garage for additional modifications.

Fitted with aluminum front bumpers, fiberglass front fenders and trunk lids, the "lightweights" shed hundreds of pounds. Inside the car's accessories such as the radio and heater were eliminated. Lighter bucket-style seats replaced the stock bench.

These special vehicles were delivered to the following racers Dick Brannan, Jerry Harvey; Phil Bonner (two cars, the second of which, this 1962 Galaxie lightweight 2W51G156035, was that car as a replacement for the heavily damaged first one he received.) Ed Martin For, Tasca Ford, Gas Ronda, Les Ritchey, Bob Ford, Jim Price and Jerry Alderman. Ownership of the cars was transferred to the respective racer for the sum of a dollar, thus relieving Ford Motor Company of any liability.

These cars, from a Ford sponsorship level had a relatively short career. This was verified by the famous racer (and 1962 recipient) Gas Ronda that stated he was pleased with the car's performance, but lamented the late delivery stating, "By the time we got the 1962 lightweights it was already time to start working on the 1963 cars." Many of these 62 lightweights frames ended up under 1963 bodies.

The 1962 Bonner Lightweight Galaxie's provenance is as follows:

- Produced by Ford Wayne Michigan Plant August 2, 1962.
- Late 1962, Phil Bonner
- Mid-1963 to May 1964, Marcus Moore
- May 1964 to April 1966, Waner Hardie
- April 1966 to July 1988, Bobby Dixon/Don Lanthrip
- July 1988 to March 2007, E. Edwin Lavender
- March 2007 to Present, Ellis Collection

I believe the 1962 Phil Bonner Galaxie has been owned by the same person for at least 15 years but I could be wrong. I will ask Phil about it. Looks like a ni ce car and I am surprised it is for sale.
Dick Brannan September 2009

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