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Ford: 1957-1959 Skyliner Retractable
"The New Ford Skyliner - The World's only Hide-Away Hardtop" touted the Ford advertising of this "Mechanical Miracle".
The introduction in 1957 saw a much bigger car than in previous years. It was also the year that introduced the Fairlane 500 series that the Skyliner was part of.
At the flick of a switch a host of servo motors connected with hundreds of feet of wiring came into play to conceal the hardtop into the huge trunk - all in under one minute. Despite the large rear deck the front of the roof still needed to be hinged in order for it to fit. To top it all off the car offered precious little trunk space to actually store luggage. However, the Ford Retractable was more about glitz and glamour than practicality.
$2942 would get you a 1957 Skyliner - a relatively expensive car coming in at $400 more than the Sunliner. Sales for 1957 totalled 20,766 and, as it turned out, the biggest volume in this model's short history.
There were styling changes introduced in 1958. The front sported twin headlamps together with a fake scoop on the hood and a honeycomb grill borrowed from the Thunderbird.
Cruise-O-Matic was also introduced by Ford in 1958 and offered as an option for V8 engines at $180. Advertising quoted:
"Versatile Cruise-O-Matic Drive! Set selector to D1 position for brisk, solid-feeling take-off. Select D2 for gentle, sure-footed starts. What's more, when new Cruise-O-Matic Drive is teamed with a new Interceptor V8 engine it can give you up to 13 per cent more gasoline mileage."
The 1958 Skyliner would set you back $3138 and 14,713 units were sold that year.
Sadly 1959 was the last year we would see the Ford Skyliner. Robert McNamara put a stop to what he felt was a gimmick. Only 12,915 units found their way to customers this year at a base price of $3346.
During 1959 the "Galaxie" range was introduced as the new top of the line. So, part way through the year it became the Ford Galaxie Retractable.
Now the roofline was styled after the Thunderbird using the "C" pillar, helping to produce one of the best looking Ford's to date. The image was decidedly understated compared with some manufacturers of this year who were going "space-age". This was reflected in a relatively low amount of chrome and much more restrained rear fenders with a simple swept back look.
The Ford Retractable left us a legacy from a decade that that seemed to have no boundaries and produced some of the most fanciful cars.