1957 Ford Skyliner Retractable

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.

side view of a 1957 Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop
top down fun

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.

1957 312 cubic inch Thunderbird Special V8 engine
312 cubic inch Thunderbird Special

The original buyer also opted for an AM radio costing $100 and a MagicAire heater/defroster at $85.

instrument panel

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.

rear view with the top up - 1957 Skyliner
rear 3/4 view – top up

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)

5 thoughts on “1957 Ford Skyliner Retractable”

    • Sadly, it was the only way you could carry a spare tire, since with the top down, there was almost no usable trunk space left. Same problem with all the contemporary “hideaway hardtop” cars. That bulky hard top has to go *somewhere*, and when down, there’s almost no room left for more than a brief case and a soft bag or two. In the Ford, the gas tank had to be mounted vertically behind the rear seat, a major safety issue. The Cadillac XLR (Corvette-based sports car) some years ago only had room for a THIN briefcase. The Lexus 430 (it had a back seat…which was totally useless for people) could actually carry a few pieces of soft luggage under the retracted top, but still nothing bulky. You used the absurd back seat for luggage—or you left your bigger bags at home.

      Reply
    • To an extent I agree as the back is already longer then the Sunliner. On the other hand, factory kits are really rare these days so the value should be higher for such an accessory. Also the back bumper should have the black stripes painted on to look more original and give a more sleek appearance.

      Reply
  1. I think she Awesomely . Beautiful car it is a work of art I can’t get over the. Color and The continental package is beautiful also even with the top up still just as beautiful good luck

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