1957 FORD FAIRLANE 500 RETRACTABLE                                        NO 21

This beauty had a Professional Frame-Off  Restoration 4 years ago

-Complete Restoration photos and receipts w/-Dyno sheet
-Complete media blast was done on all parts
-Anything in question was replaced with new or NOS parts
-The 292 cu in engine (4.8 L) is not factory but was replaced under Ford warranty by Mendenhall Engine out of St. Louis, Missouri / Ford Remanufacturer
-The block tag with this info is still attached to the block
-The transmission was rebuilt to Ford factory specs along with the rest of the driveline
-The power retractable top was completely disassembled and brought back to original working order with all new motors, cables, switches, solenoids, guides and springs
Custom built Daytona True 70 Spoke Wire wheels with the correct back spacing for this car

Every bit of this classic is 100% show quality


Ford Motor Company

and the Retractable Hard-top Convertible


The Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner (Retractable) is a full-sized two-door with a retractable hard top which was produced by Ford in North America for the model years 1957, 1958, and 1959.

What makes this a highly collectible car today is its unique retractable hard top. Offered only by Ford, it was only the second hard-top convertible to be series produced, the first such top to reach four and five figure production numbers, and the first to feature a roof made up of more than one segment.  It was alone in the market during the 1950’s but today several high-end luxury cars offer a retractable hard top.

The retractable roof was originally designed by Gordon Buehrig to be installed in the Continental Mark II for which Mr. Buehrig was also the lead body designer.  Gordon Buehrig is a name that should be familiar as he was the lead designer on many cars including the classic 1935 Auburn 851SC now seen in the Lang Collection. Although the roof proved to be a workable, reliable feature, it also proved too expensive for a limited production run like the Mark II. The Corporation felt that if enough units were sold, like on a high sales vehicle like the Ford Fairlane, economies of scale would lower the price point to make it a profitable option. And, so it was. That sense of exclusivity was maintained by the Corp by not allowing the retractable hard top convertible to be sold by any of the other lines such as Lincoln, Edsel, or Mercury.  It was Ford’s baby!

Engineered by Ben Smith who had been hired away from GM to lead this project, the retractable roof was a “complex mechanism which folded the front of the roof and retracted it under the rear deck lid. No hydraulic mechanisms were used as in regular convertibles. This Skyliner top (had) seven reversible electric motors, four lift jacks, a series of relays, ten limit switches, ten solenoids, four locking mechanisms for the roof and two locking mechanisms for the trunk lid and a total of 610 feet of wiring. The large top took up vast amounts of trunk space limiting the” potential sales. “The mechanism had decent reliability.  Production totaled 20,766 in 1957. . . The fuel tank was placed vertically in back of the rear seat, which inadvertently added safety in rear collisions.”

It could be raised or lowered in about 40 seconds.  The purchase price of the Skyliner in 1957 was set at $2942.00 FOB Detroit.

As Hemmings recently remembered, “This hard top convertible was the technical wonder customers expected as the `space age’ beckoned. At the touch of a button, a bevy of motors, relays, and wires raised a rear-hinged panel on an elongated deck, slid the top into the deep well, then closed the deck over it. . . the top’s stately passage up or down was a surefire crowd-pleaser.”   It still is.

The 1957 Ford Skyliner Retractable Hard Top Convertible was born to attract new customers to Ford showrooms and it is still weaving its spell to this day in Classic Car Museums like this one in the Lang Collection.