• April 9, 2015

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

Automobile Driving Museum

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SPECIFICATIONS
Body Style: Fairlane 500 Skyliner retractable Model 51A, convertible coupe
Factory Price: $2,942
Production: 20,766
Weight: 3,916 lbs.
Engine: Y-block Thunderbird V-8
Horse Power: 212
Cubic Inches: 292
Wheel Base: 118 in.
Transmission: Ford-O-Matic Automatic
Brakes: Power assisted hydraulic

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[column grid=”2″ span=”1″]In October of 1957 the Russians launched Sputnik 1 beating America into space. No worries… American had the Ford Skyliner retractable. The Skyliner featured a hard top that at the touch of a button automatically retracted the hard top into the boot, a phenomenal feat of engineering and science. The Ford Fairlane was named for Henry Ford’s Fair Lane mansion in Dearborn. Introduced in 1955, it was the new top of the line full-size Ford. All body styles featured fine styling with the “Fairlane stripe” side trim and optional flashy twotone paint. The Ford Fairlane Skyliner can claim the distinction of America’s first production convertible to feature a retractable hard top.

The Skyliner was available with any V-8 engine offered by Ford for 1957 . Also available
were choices in three-speed transmissions: manual, manual with overdrive, and Fordomatic. Even though the base price of $2,942 made it the most expensive Ford for 1957, most Skyliners were ordered with plenty of options. The automatic was far more prevalent than the stick-shift. While the first production year was abbreviated, sales were brisk at 20,766 cars.

But the economy tanked in late 1957 and 1958 hitting all car sales, especially luxury cars.
While the retractable top seemed like a good idea at the time (and a typical 1950s one at
that), it proved to be expensive, very complicated and somewhat trouble prone. It also played havoc with trunk space. A new low-slung platform for the 1960 Fairlanes sealed the fate of the Skyliner retractables and they disappeard. While the Chevy Bel Air might be the most recognizable car from the 1950s, the Ford Fairlane Skyliner retractable certainly represents a more collectable specimen as the ultimate gimmick car of the ultimate gimmick decade.
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