Warren resident Bob Gaines, center, his wife, Opal Gaines, right, and their daughter, Dawn Gaines, left, gather around Bob’s 1968 Ford Galaxie 500.

Warren resident Bob Gaines, center, his wife, Opal Gaines, right, and their daughter, Dawn Gaines, left, gather around Bob’s 1968 Ford Galaxie 500.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Behind the Wheel: Ford models are a family affair

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published August 25, 2020

 Bob Gaines purchased his 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 in 1968. He has rebuilt the engine numerous times.

Bob Gaines purchased his 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 in 1968. He has rebuilt the engine numerous times.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Dawn Gaines, of Roseville, purchased her 1966 Ford Mustang coupe in 2011.

Dawn Gaines, of Roseville, purchased her 1966 Ford Mustang coupe in 2011.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Opal Gaines’ 1967 Ford Mustang coupe will be featured in a television commercial.

Opal Gaines’ 1967 Ford Mustang coupe will be featured in a television commercial.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WARREN — "She’s got her elbow on my car,” Warren resident Bob Gaines teased when his daughter, Dawn Gaines, momentarily leaned on her dad’s 1968 Ford Galaxie 500.

Bob bought the vehicle back in 1968 when it was brand-new, and the car has retained its prime condition. To date, the Ford has 27,846 original miles on it.

“Everything is original. Original hubcaps, original spare tire,” said Bob, who has rebuilt the Galaxie’s engine eight to 10 times over the decades. “I build my own. I learned what works and what doesn’t work.”

The 73-year-old Michcon retiree said the ’68 Galaxie was a police car, and he ordered the same model, but in candy-apple red. Bob has raced his prized possession along racing dragways, including those in Detroit; Midland; Windsor; Terre Haute, Indiana; Maple Grove, in Mohnton, Pennsylvania; and the former Norwalk Raceway Park and Norwalk Dragway, in Norwalk, Ohio.

“The fastest I ever went is 122 (mph) at a drag strip in Lapeer,” the speedracer said. “The adrenalin kicked in, and it’s just like a rush. It went so fast, I barely made the second stop.”

Bob has been into cars since he was a kid. He likes “a little bit of everything” about them. Bob also was once a member of different car clubs, including the International Show Car Association, and the Galaxie was featured at Autorama in 1971 and ’72. Bob has won countless trophies for the car at various shows.

However, one classic Ford was not enough for the Gaines family. In 2001, Bob’s wife, Opal Gaines, searched for the ideal Ford Mustang coupe she could call her own. The first one she found was a race car, but it didn’t suit her.

“I wanted just a regular cruiser,” Opal, 72, said. “(Bob) looked everywhere for weeks.”

There was one gentleman Bob called who was selling a 1967 Mustang coupe. Every time Bob called him, he couldn’t get through. Bob and the seller finally connected, and the pair, along with Opal, met up so she could take the car for a test drive.

“We took it out and I said, ‘I like this,’” said Opal, who over the years has taken the Mustang to multiple car shows and on many car rides. “You get a lot of thumbs up.”

Opal’s ’67 model will be featured in a commercial, which at this time is top secret. She doesn’t even know what the commercial is for or when it will air. Opal received a call from the Mustang Owners Club of Southeastern Michigan about the commercial and then another phone call from a California-based company.

“I thought it was a joke,” Opal said.

But the phone calls were serious, and her segment of the commercial was filmed in downtown Detroit last month.

Not to feel left out, in December 2011, daughter Dawn purchased a blue 1966 Mustang coupe, although her dad joked, “We don’t need any more cars.”

“I like the classic cars better than the newer,” Dawn, of Roseville, said. “Mom and Dad always had classics. My grandparents always had classics.”

One unique feature is the bench seat in the back. She keeps two stuffed animal mustang horses in the back seat, and one stuffed animal bulldog. Two of the stuffed toys are souvenirs from the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

Every year, Dawn takes the Mustang to all the local car cruises, including the Woodward Dream Cruise, Eastpointe’s Cruisin’ Gratiot, Mustang Memories and the Clinton Township Gratiot Cruise. However, because of COVID-19, all those events were canceled this year.

Dawn also was a drag racer. She used to race a 1963 1/2 Ford Galaxie, often in Ohio. Dawn had sponsors, but last year the car was sold and her racing days have come to a halt.


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