Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"TWO CARS IN ONE!" -- "World's Only Hide-Away Hardtop." -- the Ford Skyliner -- A contribution from Ed Garten

Interestingly, I was in Charleston, West Virginia last week, using the State Archives when I ran across a September 1956 advertisement from Garten Motors (attached but not real clear) where my late uncle Damon is standing beside the first Skyliner received by the dealership (frankly, I can't imagine they received more than one given that these vehicles actually cost a few dollars more than the 1957 Thunderbird). 
But I love the caption in the ad: "TWO CARS IN ONE!" -- "World's Only Hide-Away Hardtop."
Not surprisingly, when one sees these cars at cruise-ins or car shows, there are typically many folks gathered around clamoring for the owner to demonstrate the mechanism!  And the owner always obliges!
The Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner was a full-size two-door automobile with a retractable hardtop produced by the Ford Motor Company for the model years 1957, 1958 and 1959. Part of the Ford Fairlane range, the Skyliner had a complex mechanism which folded the front of the roof and retracted it under the rear decklid. It had three roof drive motors driving four lift jacks, four door-lock motors, ten solenoids, four locking mechanisms for the roof, and a total of 610 ft (185.9 m) of wiring. The large top took up vast amounts of trunk space, limiting the car's sales (however, unlike what most people believe, the mechanism had decent reliability). Production totaled 20,766 units in 1957, declining to 14,713 in 1958 and to 12,915 in 1959. An electric clock was standard. Fuel consumption was around 14 mpg overall. The fuel tank was placed under the rear seat, which inadvertently added safety in rear collisions.

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