Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable Hardtop

Detroit brimmed with innovation in the late 1950s as designers and engineers added dynamic, space-age styling and a dizzying array of new features to the American automobile. In 1957, Ford pushed the styling and engineering envelope even further in a bid for supremacy over its archrival Chevrolet, with all-new styling and the release of the world’s first mass-produced retractable hardtop, the Fairlane 500-based Skyliner.

An engineering marvel even by today’s standards, the Skyliner’s retractable hardtop mechanism was a carefully orchestrated symphony that included 610 feet of wiring, 10 solenoids and seven high-torque electric motors, capable of raising or lowering the Skyliner’s large roof in an astounding 25 seconds. Ford offered the retractable hardtop option for only three model years from 1957 through 1959, and only a limited few were sold. Sales were hampered in 1958 by a short but deep recession that produced disappointing sales results throughout the American automobile industry. Nowadays, as the retractable hardtop has become a luxury feature on such modern cars as Mercedes-Benz’s SL, few admirers realize that Ford pioneered this industry achievement half a century ago.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

265 bhp, 332 cu. in. V8 engine, single four-barrel carburetor, Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, semi-floating rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118"

Source: RM Auctions

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