The Gift of Friendship: Mike Galazka’s buddies restore his ’68 Mustang

Mike Galazka in the driver’s seat of his restored 1968 Mustang at his service centre on Main Street. Left to right behind him: Sam Galazka, Elizabeth Galazka, Cam Potter, Chris Thompson, Jim Naida, Renzo Calvano, and Tom Walsh.

Mike Galazka in the driver’s seat of his restored 1968 Mustang at his service centre on Main Street. Left to right behind him: Sam Galazka,
Elizabeth Galazka, Cam Potter, Chris Thompson, Jim Naida, Renzo Calvano, and Tom Walsh.

By: Theresa Wallace

One of the most famous car chase scenes in cinema history involves Steve McQueen ripping through the streets of San Francisco chasing bad guys. It’s from the 1968 film Bullitt. Mike Galazka, 61, is a big fan of the film, and he owns a ‘68 Mustang like the one McQueen drives in that scene.

“A customer has a ‘68 Charger just like the villains McQueen is chasing,” explains Galazka, owner of Mike Galazka Service Centre, an automotive repair shop on Main Street. “We used to joke that for the 50th anniversary of Bullitt, I’d drive my Mustang down Main Street chasing him in his Charger.”

His intention when he bought the Mustang in 1979 was to restore it to mint condition, but the project kept getting delayed. Galazka and a few buddies have met for breakfast at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings for more years than they can remember, and every Saturday they’d nag him about when he’d finish his car.

“Mike is sometimes a man of few words and he’d just shake his head and say he had no time,” long-time friend Renzo Calvano says. “But all his friends knew he was too busy working hard in the shop and trying to help everybody else and not getting his own stuff done.”

Stories of Galazka’s good works have piled up over the decades: he’s ploughed Brantwood rink after snowstorms for several generations of skaters, opened his repair shop on the weekend to help desperate motorists, and fixed cars for next to nothing for those in need. When Paul Bourque ran out of gas this past summer on Colonel By Drive north of Main Street, he called his buddy.

“Within four minutes, Mike arrived,” Bourque says. “I was on the side of the road for 10 minutes tops before I was on my way.”

Galazka was injured last spring using a grinder on the underbody of the Mustang—in what could have been a far more serious accident, the grinder kicked back and caught him in the neck. As a result, his friend Jim Naida decided to intervene. Naida collected a few hundred dollars from each of a dozen of Galazka’s friends to get the body of the Mustang restored.

“When I told him we were having his Mustang towed to a shop in Greely that works on high-end vintage vehicles, Mike almost started to cry,” recalls Naida, a retired firefighter who has lived in OOE his whole life and who befriended Galazka in high school.

The two teens hung around the auto repair shop and gas station on Main Street, which Mike Galazka Sr. started operating in 1966. Calvano also hung around that garage.

“Mike Sr. was a prince of a man, a real warrior. When he was 13 years old his family was sent to Siberia because of the war. They lived in wooden barracks. Eventually they went to Africa, where Mike Sr. became a mechanic. He had a big heart and a passion for classic cars just like his son has.”

Mike Jr., who received an engineering degree from Carleton before deciding to join the family business, is a regular spectator at the Rideau Carleton Raceway Wednesday evening Cruise Night car show.

He plans to bring his Mustang there when he has it all fixed up.

The “last man standing,” as he calls himself, on a street that used to have four gas stations in a business that has become dominated by big companies, Galazka doesn’t think he’ll be able to find the hours to finish the car before the end of this year in time to mark the Mustang’s and Bullitt’s 50th anniversary.

“But when it’s done, we might still take that drive down Main Street.”

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