AJ’s Car of the Day: 1959 Ford Galaxie Skyliner Retractable Hardtop

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1959 Ford Galaxie Skyliner Retractable Hardtop

Car: Ford Galaxie Skyliner Retractable Hardtop

Year: 1959

What makes it special: Beginning as the Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable Hardtop, a two-door, full-size car with a retractable hardtop for model years 1957, 1958 and 1959, in 1959 the model name changed to Ford Galaxie Skyliner very shortly after the production of 1959 models had started. The retractable roof mechanism – also known as “Hide-Away Hardtop” was unique to Ford branded products, and was not offered on Continental, Lincoln, Mercury, or Edsel branded vehicles during this time period. The Ford Skyliner Retractable was only the second car in history to be series produced with a retractable hardtop; the first to reach four and five digit production numbers, and the first series produced coupé convertible to feature a roof composed of more than one segment.

What made it famous: Skyliner had a complex mechanism which folded the front of the roof and retracted it under the rear decklid. No hydraulic mechanisms were used as in regular convertibles of the era. The Skyliner top had six reversible electric motors for 1959 models, 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 ft of wiring.  The large top took up vast amounts of trunk space, limiting the car’s sales. It came with the standard 292 cu in  2-barrel 200 hp V8. Two manual transmissions, a 3-speed and 3-speed with overdrive were available, as well as 3-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission. Starting in 1958, Cruise-O-Matic was added, which provided a second “drive” range ( or “D2”), allowing for an intermediate gear start.

Why I would want one: It’s a part of automotive history, a technical advancement, and not too mention just downright drop dead gorgeous!

Fun fact: The 1990 Andrew Dice Clay movie “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” featured a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable Hardtop in a co-starring role.

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