OUR RIDES: Dan Bradfield’s surprise gift, a 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible

Dan Bradfield admits he’s been spending a lot of time lately with a gorgeous redhead named Ginger. And he doesn’t care who knows it. In fact, it was Dan’s wife, Elizabeth, who introduced the two in the first place.

We should probably point out that Ginger is a 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. She cruised into Dan and Elizabeth’s lives a couple of weeks ago while they were enjoying the National Cherry Festival Old Town Car Show in Traverse City, Mich. Elizabeth noticed the classic red ragtop parked in a nearby lot—“Spotted it from a quarter mile away,” Dan said—and there was a “For Sale” sign on the window. The Bradfields were already in the market for a vintage car, so they found the owner, made an offer, and promised to follow up with him the next day.

Elizabeth didn’t wait that long, however. That evening she sneaked away and completed the deal without telling Dan. Then she asked the seller for a favor: “When my husband calls, please play along and tell him that the car is no longer available.” Dan called the following day, as promised, and was stunned to hear that someone else had placed a down payment on the car only an hour earlier. He was heartbroken. Elizabeth pretended to be, too.

Over the next several days, she arranged the title transfer and insurance coverage (she just happened to know a good collector car insurance company). She also let her daughter, Allison, in on the secret and enlisted the help of a friend to hide the car. Elizabeth even gave Dan a Ford Galaxie T-shirt (ouch), explaining that she ordered it before the deal for the car fell through.

Encouraging her husband to make the best of a frustrating situation, she convinced him to wear the shirt to Hagerty’s Cars and Caffeine event the next morning. When Dan arrived, he immediately saw the Galaxie parked with the other classics, and his friend was standing next to the car. “My first thought was, ‘Is HE the guy who bought it out from under me?” Dan says. Then he spotted a placard on the window with his name on it. “I said, ‘Wait, that’s my name,’ and then I saw Elizabeth and I knew she got me. She got me good.”

Good is right. It’s all good. Dan now calls his bride “The Wife of the Year.” Who could argue?

Name: Dan Bradfield

Position at Hagerty: Senior Sales Specialist

Years at Hagerty: 3 1/2

Vehicle: 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible with 390-cid V-8 engine

Background: I was born and raised in Elk Rapids, Mich., the youngest of five—and the only boy—and I attended Grand Valley State University. I married Elizabeth in 2014.

My dad was a gearhead. He raced motorcycles and was always tinkering with something (1974 International Scout, 1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, 1950s Willys Jeep, a dune buggy…). He took me to see Smokey and the Bandit at the Elk Rapids Cinema in 1977, and I was bitten by the bug. I’ve owned a 1985 Dodge Ramcharger, 1978 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance, 1987 Honda Prelude, and numerous vintage motorcycles.

What drew you to the Galaxie? I am a big Ford fan, and I wanted a big-bodied car from the late ’60s—before low compression and emissions killed horsepower. Our other option was a G-body Oldsmobile, but then we saw Ginger and … you know the story.

Repairs and Modifications (completed or planned): The car underwent a frame-off restoration not too long ago, but it still needs some engine-bay cleanup, a little gasket work, and possibly some repairs to the dash. She was a Florida car, so she has some sun damage.

Hobby Activities: I’m secretary of the Northwest Michigan Chapter of the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) and go to just about any car event or museum that I can.

Favorite Drive: Northern Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula and Tunnel of Trees. We’ve already driven the car to our local drive-in, and I’m looking forward to a really good long run. I would love to drive Route 66.

Best and Worst Moments: My best moment so far was July 7, when I found out that Ginger was mine. Worst moment was selling my 1983 Kawasaki Spectre 1100D. That bike is “the one that got away.”

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