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1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable in operation

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable Hardtop – now that’s quite a name!

The Retractable, developed by Ford, was the world’s only true hardtop convertible. At the flick of a switch the automatic folding mechanism lifted the roof and folded it into the trunk. It was a complex operation involving solenoids, micro-switches and motors. One of the downsides of this mechanism is that it left little room for luggage when the top was down.

The Skyliner only ran for three years. In 1957 and 1958 it was in the Fairlane 500 line-up and then in 1959 became a Galaxie car when Galaxie became the top-of-the-line series (although towards the end of 1958 some of the 1959 models were still badged as Fairlane 500’s). Its first year sales reached nearly 21,000, 1958 saw under 15,000 sold with less than 13,000 in its final year.

Imagine, Ford mass produced this 40 odd years before it then became popular in smaller European and Japanese models. We still know which one we’d choose – the Ford Retractable hands down.

Watching the top in operation is a marvel and always draws a crowd.


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