The 1957 model year saw the launch of Ford’s Mechanical Miracle – a true hardtop convertible. Unveiled at the New York Auto Show on December 8th, 1956, the Skyliner Retractable was a hit with the public.
Of course, this Hide-Away Hardtop would sit pride-of-place in the top of the line Fairlane 500 Series. A flagship model showing off what Ford was capable of.
This particular car has just had a spectacular restoration and covered less than a dozen miles since it was completed.
The Fairlane 500 Skyliner came with a 292 cubic inch, 212 horsepower, V8 engine as standard – a six cylinder was certainly not going to cope with producing enough power to handle the top mechanism. The original owner of this car opted to pay a further $143 for the D code, 312 cubic inch Thunderbird Special that produces 245 hp.
Instead of the standard 3-speed manual, this car was also ordered with a Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission costing a further $180.
The original buyer also opted for an AM radio costing $100 and a MagicAire heater/defroster at $85.
On paper the Retractable would seem to solve all the problems of users wanting a convertible without the problems associated with them. However, it introduced its own set of problems, not least the complexities involved in lowering and raising the top. Added to this was the rather small storage space in the trunk when the top was down.
These days, all this seems irrelevant – with those practicalities less important for a car used occasionally just to enjoy and have fun in. Just as it did when it was launched all those years ago, the operation of the top is bound to draw a crowd.
Inside, the blue airweave vinyl interior (code BC) is protected under plastic seat covers.
Skyliner Retractable sales were a modest 20,766 cars sold in their first year. The Sunliner Convertible sold nearly 77,000 more and was over $300 cheaper than the Skyliner’s price tag of $2,942.
In fact this was the highest sales figure of the three years that the Skyliner Retractable was available. With fairly limited sales and the complexities of maintaining the top meant the writing was on the wall for this marvel. Sadly, Ford wouldn’t even come close to recovering their huge development costs. But this is what makes these cars special and super-collectable nowadays.
Note: If you like this car take a look at the 1957 Sunliner (the soft top convertible version).
This ’57 Skyliner is currently for sale on eBay. (follow the link for lots more photos)