1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner Retractable - $39,900
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  • Overview & History
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It’s an icon of ‘50s tech and style, and they always look best wearing flashy two-tone paint combinations like this car’s Colonial White over Starmist Blue.


To car guys, there’s only one: the Ford Skyliner. A triumph of ’50s can-do technology, delivering a car that would be at home anywhere. Convertible, hardtop, family car, personal car, it was good at everything. Today they are still show-stoppers and you could probably sell tickets to watch the acrobatic roof stow itself in the trunk. Sure, there are modern hardtop convertibles, but none of them weigh 900 pounds and include nearly 40 square feet of sheetmetal. You want drama, the Ford “Retractable” Skyliner definitely delivers.

1957 was the first year for the Skyliner and it was most certainly a sensation. People flocked to showrooms to see the top stow itself gracefully in the trunk and even President Eisenhower bought one for his personal use. It’s an icon of ‘50s tech and style, and they always look best wearing flashy two-tone paint combinations like this car’s Colonial White over Starmist Blue. It’s crisp, clean, and bright, and you have to admit, you’re not buying a Retractable because it’s subtle. This one will stand out in the ocean of red and seafoam green Skyliners. It’s an older restoration that’s holding up well and this Ford remains a one-car parade. There’s an appropriate shine to the paint, not too modern and perfect but just right for a car that you’re going to drive. Panel fit is good, including the deck lid, which snugs itself down properly, and the doors which don’t sag a bit. There are a few minor issues such as some cracking at the edge of one of the wheel arches, but none of it should stop you from enjoying the car. As a product of the ‘50s, there’s a lot of chrome and stainless trim, including Ford’s distinctive side spear with the gold anodized insert. All of it remains in excellent condition, including the accessory grille guard up front and unique stainless quarter trim.

It sports correct blue cloth upholstery that was recently restored, including new door and side panels in correct materials and patterns. There’s a lot of blue inside, but it’s hardly overwhelming and you know that Ford designers were careful about overdoing it. The matching steering wheel and darker dashboard provide great contrast and everything inside remains in very good condition with no issues. You’ll quickly spot an aftermarket A/C unit under the dash which blows lots of cold air, and the original AM radio is fully operational with an auxiliary iPod adapter built right in. The dash and gauges appear to be original, but everything works properly except the clock, which shouldn’t be surprising. Most importantly, the top has been recently and comprehensively serviced, and all seven 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 are all in excellent health. Touch the button under the dash and the whole beautiful mechanical system springs into action and makes the top disappear in about 30 seconds. If you’re like us, you’ll never get tired of watching it, and the last 60 years have proven that the system is actually quite robust. And should something go wrong in the future, there’s plenty of knowledge and a surprising number of replacement parts to make it healthy again. Don’t worry, owning a Retractable is pretty painless! The only place you might need to compromise is in the trunk, where there’s a lot of space with the top up but only a small cooler-sized box for luggage if you intend to travel with the top down.

Travel is easy with Ford’s top-of-the-line D-code 312 cubic inch “Thunderbird Special” V8. Rated at 245 horsepower, it’s a good match for the Skyliner’s mass, which isn’t insignificant. Nevertheless, the strong-running Y-block never seems to work very hard and makes great V8 sounds as it goes about its business. It starts easily and after a few seconds settles into an easy idle that you can hear but not feel. It’s also correctly finished in Ford Red engine enamel with a chrome air cleaner and “Thunderbird Special” valve covers. The modern A/C compressor is tucked down out of the way so it doesn’t attract much attention, and there’s a modern Griffin aluminum radiator up front with an auxiliary electric fan, which is a smart on idea on a car that’s ideally suited for parade duty. Power steering is a nice addition on a 4200-pound convertible and most of the fittings and hardware are correct Ford pieces. There’s even a correct See-Clear solvent bag for the washer system (which now uses a miniature electric pump).

Most Skyliners used Ford’s 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission, and that’s what you’ll find in this one as well. It’s really the right choice, and with 3.56 gears out back, it feels surprisingly quick around town. Ford’s X-frame is incredibly robust for the big convertible and it’s in great shape with no signs of accident damage in its past. There are floor patches in the lower rear footwells, which is where water tends to collect in these cars and you won’t find many that haven’t been patched in this area. It doesn’t present any issues today and the important areas are quite solid, including the rocker area and trunk. A newer gas tank has been installed above the rear axle, new shocks are at all four corners, and there’s a new dual exhaust system with just the right rumble to it. Also note that the brakes have been serviced, the power steering has fresh hoses (it’s not a leaker!), and it sits on right-sized 215/70/14 wide whitewall radials that really improve the ride.

Extras include the original owner’s manual, shop manuals for the car and top, a set of accessory fender skirts, the original radiator, and the custom door and side panels that were removed in favor of correct reproduction pieces.

“Iconic” doesn’t even begin to describe Ford’s wondrous Retractable, and this one certainly attracts attention everywhere it goes. Would today’s hardtop convertibles have been possible without it? It lasted only three years, yet made a huge impact on the industry and remains a favorite among collectors decades later. And if you’re going to own such a machine, doesn’t it make sense to own one that’s ready to drive and enjoy so it can wow crowds everywhere you go? Call today!

Vehicle: 1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner Retractable
Price: $39,900
Stock Number: 116084
Mileage: 82,420
VIN: D7UW201114
Engine: 312 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.56
Wheelbase: 118 inches
Wheels: 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 215/70/14 whitewall radials
Exterior Color: Colonial White over Starmist Blue
Interior Color: Blue cloth
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