1957 Ford Fairlane

Ford, along with their Chief of Styling, George W. Walker, created and applied a series of innovative design principles to the 1957 Fords, resulting in boosting the company's reputation as a leader in manufacturing. There were subtle bits of chrome trim decoration around the body, a blunt front-end incorporating a clean, and full-width rectangular grille.

The Fairlane was a remarkable vehicle with its two and four door 'thin pillar' models, while the convertible Sunliner and retractable roof Skyliner were considered the pinnacle of the series. There were 37 different fabric color combinations and a selection of either standard nylon or optional vinyl upholstery.

Ford pushed the engineering and styling envelope even further with the first mass-produced retractable hardtop, the Fairlane 500 Skyliner. After pressing a button, the Skyliners hardtop would unscrew itself from the windshield frame and then fold neatly and tucked under a long, flat trunk lid that lifted on its own to make way for the top. In about 25 seconds, the Skyliner driver could literally transform his coupe into a true convertible. Ford offered the unique retractable hardtop option for only three years, from 1957 to 1959.

The Fairlane 500 Skyliner was premiered at the December 1956 New York Auto Show. The inspiration is thought to have come from the Vista Dome railroad observation cars of the era. It was a fixed panel instead of the modern movable concept and was also seen on the Mercury Sun Valley. This principal was applied again as an option for the 1955 and 1956 Ford Crown Victoria and was also called a Skyliner in 1956.

In 1957, the Dearborn assembly plant made available for all models a limited number of F-Code 312 cubic inch Thunderbird V-8 engines fitted with a four-barrel carburetor and a McCullochPaxton centrifugal supercharger a special cylinder head was fitted to these engines to keep the compression ratio at 8.51 so that they could drive on regular pump gas. The F-Code engine could be ordered with either a manual or a Ford-O-Matic transmission. Less than 14 Skyliners are believed to have been produced in 1957 with the F-Code engine. Fords supercharger program was a stopgap measure to respond to Chevrolets refined small-block V-8 on the nation's racetracks, which in 1957 had grown to 283-cid and 283-hp with fuel injection. Ford had dominated the V-8 market since 1932, so when Chevrolet started to win races in 1955 and 1956 with their new V8, initially a 265, Ford instituted a game plan to regain superiority. To be considered for the track they had to be homologated with 50 built for production, and it is reported that Ford responded by building 211 supercharged units that would end up in Thunderbirds, two-door sedans and in a few rare cases, the Skyliner.


Vehicle Profiles

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

1957 was a great year for the Ford car. It was the first year Ford outsold Chevrolet since 1935, a remarkable rise from the dismal situation after World War II saddled it with outdated production. Much of the credit goes to Henry Ford II. When you....[continue reading]

500 V8 Sunliner Convertible

Ford was brand new for 1957, and the line-topping, super-sized Fairlane 500 was a hot seller. 'You'll ride sweet, low and lovely in this new prestige car of the low-price field,' said Ford. Two Fairlane 500 convertibles were offered: the aptly-named ....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

One of 13 Factory Supercharged 1957 Skyliners
In the late-Fifties, America was fascinated with space-age technology and Detroit was feeding the frenzy with jet-inspired tailfins, fuel-injected engines and glittering new designs every year.....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

This was the first mass production of a hardtop retractable convertible. It helped Ford beat Chevrolet in sales in 1597 for first time in decades. It featured unique electro-servo top; state of the art engineering in 1957.....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

The 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner was the world's first production retractable hardtop convertible. The Skyline option was more expensive than the conventional Sunliner soft top. The retractable top mechanism is electric motor driven.....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

Cars with retractable hardtops have become almost ordinary, made by everyone from Volkswagen to Pontiac. But when Ford launched its Skyliner in 1957, the car was a traffic-stopper as the large roof retracted from over the two-row passenger compartme....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

Chassis Num: D7KW166063

This Skyliner Retractable Hardtop is a rust-free California car. It was subjected to a high quality professional, nut-and-bolt restoration that cost over $120,000. Since the restoration, the car has not been driven. It came from the factory equipped ....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

The Ford Skyliner was produced from 1957 to 1959. It had a new look that gave a longer, wider, lower and sleeker look with low tailfins. The Skyliner power retractable hardtop was the big news for 1957, whose solid top hinged and folded down into t....[continue reading]

500 V8 Sunliner Convertible

Chassis Num: E7RC208526

In 1957, Ford introduced the first ever production hard-top convertible, the Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable Hardtop. The 'hideaway hardtop' was Ford's most expensive car in 1957 with a base price of $2,942.....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

Henry Ford's third attempt fat starting an automobile company finally met with success in 1903. He introduced the low-priced Model T in 1908 which helped the Ford marque dominate the U.S. car market until the late 1920s.....[continue reading]

500 V8 Club Victoria

Chassis Num: F7FV306382

Ford offered four different engines in six stages of tune in 1957. The entry level version was a 223-cubic inch Mileage Maker overhead-valve six. The V-8 engine came in three sizes, displacing 272, 292 and 312 cubic-inches. Ford described the 272 as ....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

The retractable hardtop was first introduced by Ford in 1957 and lasted just three years. The mechanism uses no hydraulics, just a series of relays, circuit breakers, drive motors and switches with 610 feet of wiring. It takes exactly 58 seconds to r....[continue reading]

500 V8 Club Sedan

For 1957, Ford was America's number one automobile manufacturer, outpacing its nearest rival, Chevrolet. Total Ford production was 1,655,068. ....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

Chassis Num: D7RW214783

The glossy colored red and white two-tone Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner with chassis number D7RW214783 was offered for auction at the 2006 Worldwide Group Auction held on Hilton Head Island. It is equipped with a 312 cubic-inch overhead V8 engine that p....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

Chassis Num: C7KW171999

The all-new 1957 Ford models featured 'Equaflair' styling by George W. Walker. They were longer and lower than ever before and incorporated a full-width rectangular grille, dramatic bright accents, and a pair of tailfins or 'high-canted' rear fenders....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

The 1957 Ford was the recipient of a complete restyling. It was a complete departure from its predecessors. The Fairlane series was five inches lower and nine inches longer. Total Ford sales for 1957 were 1,522,402, which meant Ford just edged out it....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible

Chassis Num: C7KW162758

The Ford Skyliner has its matching numbers 312 CID, 245 horsepower V8 engine which has 43,000 original miles. It is one of 20,766 produced. It has rear fender skirts, luggage storage, Ford-O-Matic transmission, and the optional Continental kit with t....[continue reading]

500 V8 Sunliner Convertible

Chassis Num: D7FC342939

The 1957 Fords were given a complete across-the-line restyling resulting in over 1.6 million cars built for the year, knocking Chevrolet out of first place.....[continue reading]

500 V8 Sunliner Convertible

Chassis Num: C7RC193277

This Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner has been given a professional frame-off restoration and has been finished in its original Flame Red and Colonial White. Power is from a 292 cubic-inch V8 engine offering 212 horsepower. It has dual exhaust with correct....[continue reading]

500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Sunliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
Chassis #: D7KW166063 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Sunliner Convertible
Chassis #: E7RC208526 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Club Victoria
Chassis #: F7FV306382 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Club Sedan
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
Chassis #: D7RW214783 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
Chassis #: C7KW171999 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
 
500 V8 Skyliner Convertible
Chassis #: C7KW162758 
500 V8 Sunliner Convertible
Chassis #: D7FC342939 
500 V8 Sunliner Convertible
Chassis #: C7RC193277 

History

The name Fairlane came from Henry Ford's Fair Lane mansion location in Dearborn, Michigan. The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 as Ford's full-size model and was available in six different body styles. The vehicle could be assembled as a 2 door club sedan, a 4 door town sedan, a Victoria 2 door hardtop, a Sunliner convertible, a Crown Victoria, or a Crown Victoria with a plastic top.

There were wide assortments of engines to select from. The base 223 cubic-inch, Inline-six cylinder engine produced 120 horsepower. A modified version of the engine produced 137 horsepower. The 272 cubic inch, V8 engine produced 162 horsepower with the modified version producing 182 horsepower. In

1956, two new V8 engines were introduced. The 292 cubic-inch engine produced 200 horsepower. The 312 cubic-inch produced 215 horsepower with the modified version producing 225 horsepower.

In 1956 a four door Victoria hard-top was added to the line up.

In 1957, the height of the vehicle was reduced by two inches. The suspension received improvements via swept back front lower control arms and longer rear leaf springs. The engines remained the same but with modifications, the horsepower ratings increased. A new top trim was added to the line up, the 500. This introduction was significant because it was the world's first power retractable hardtop.

With its convenience, it also brought problems. The system was expensive, complicated, and riddled with mechanical defects.

In 1958, the front bumper and grille was redesigned. Quad headlamps were used in the front and rear of the vehicle, replacing the previous single headlamp design. Other exterior changes included updates to the side and top of the vehicle. A new 'big Block', 332/352 cubic-inch V8 replaced the 292 and 312 cubic-inch V8's.

1959 was the final year for the Skyliner Hardtop Convertible. The remaining Fairlanes received styling and mechanical changes. The size of the windshields increased; the headlamps and rear of the vehicle received modifications as well. Due to fuel economy, the V8 engines were de-tuned. The suspension continued to receive improvements, increasing ride-quality. Part-way through the year, Ford introduced another body style, the Galaxie.

The 1960 Fairlanes were six inches longer, five inches wider and about 200 pounds heavier. The Sunliner returned to the line-up. The square-roof Starliner of 1959 was replaced by a pillarless, two-door hardtop version. The rest of the body styles received updates that included straight A-pillars and horizontal tailfins.

In 1961, a 390 cubic-inch V8 engine was introduced, capable of producing 375 horsepower. The modified version of the engine produced over 400 horsepower. The Fairlane was once again redesigned and contrary to the prior year, became lighter and shorter. The hood of the vehicle was reshaped, the grille was re-worked, and the taillights, once again, were changed.

In 1962, a new, light weight 221 cubic-inch V8 was built using a process called thin-wall casting. The 221 was referred at to as the 'worlds first economy eight'. Later, the engine was increased to 260 cubic inches and then 289 cu in. Half-way through the year, Ford introduced the Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe. The vehicle featured bucket seats and an option for a 260 cubic-inch V8, which was actually a modified version of the light-weight V8. The vehicles could be assembled in either three speed manual or 'Fordomatic Drive' automtaic transmission.

In 1963 another new engine appeared on the scene. This was a 289 cubic-inch engine that produced 270 horsepower in modified form. The exterior received minor improvements. The front grill was new for 1963 which required modifications to the hood, bumper, and fenders.

In 1964 there were eight body styles to select from; none were convertibles.

The rear of the vehicle was restyled. The tailfins were removed. The suspension was modified which improved ride-quality. The interior received minor enhancments. Full carpeting for the floors was available. Turn signals would shut off after a slight turn of the steering wheel.

Ford produced 57 special Fairlane's that were comprised of a highly modified engine and a 3200 pound lightweight package. The purpose was for drag racing. The weight of the vehicle was reduced by incorporating fiberglass fenders, Plexiglas windows, light weight bucket seats, and other weight saving measures. The engine was a modified 427 big block that produced around 500 horsepower. The transmission and suspension was modified to accommodate these special drag racing vehicles. Commonly referred to as 'Thunderbolt' or 'T-bolts', the success on the race track increased the demand for these vehicles and 54 additional vehicles were produced, bringing the total to 111 examples.

In 1965, Ford moved the Fairlane out of the mid-size market. The base engine was the 200 cubic inch V6 that produced 120 horsepower. The 289 cubic-inch V8 replaced the 260 cu.in. engine.

In 1966 the GT and GTA packages were introduced. A new convertible option was added to the line-up as well. Due to the size of the big block V8, the Fairlane needed to be redesigned to accommodate. The GTA series came equipped with SportShift Cruise-O-Matic automatic gearboxes and the 390 cubic-inch V8.

The GT series featured the 390 cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment. Other equipment for these series included suspension modifications, disc brakes, special hoods, paint and body striping, badges, and special steering wheels.

In 1967 only minor aesthetic changes were done to the vehicle. The GT and GTA series received front disc brakes, vinyl interiors, and bucket seat as standard equipment. The disc brakes were a major improvement from the prior drum-brake system. The 289 cubic inch V8 produced 200 horsepower, the 390 cubic inch V8 produced 275 horsepower and a modified version of the 390 cubic-inch produced 320 horsepower. A 427 cubic-inch 'side oiler' was available, although about 200 were produced. The 427 cubic-inch engine was capable of producing between 410 and 425 horsepower.

Additional modifications to the engine would bring about even more horsepower.

In 1968, the Fairlane was redesigned and was once again moved into the full-size car class. A 'Sportsroof' fastback and Torino series were added to the line-up. The vehicles were either called a Fairlane or a Torino. The lower through mid range vehiciles were Fairlanes. The GT and higher-end versions were called Torino models. The Torino featured a 320 cubic-inch V8 engine, bucket seats, badges, striping, light package, and wheel covers. The engine options for this year included a 302, 390, and 427 cubic inch.

In 1969, more modifications to the vehicle occurred making it better suited for the road and the race track. Mechanical enhancements increased the overall horsepower output of all the engines, the suspension was modified, four-speed manual transmission, and wider tires were offered.

The Torino Talladega series, named after a 2.66 mile track in Alabama, was designed for the NASCAR circuit. The vehicle featured aerodynamic enhancements that included a sloped nose and reworked rocker panels. The big block 428 cubic-inch V8 was used, supplying 335 horsepower. In total, 754 examples were produced.

In 1970, the Fairlane was once again restyled. All dimensions, except for the height, increased in size. The Falcon was added to the Torino series. A wide variety of engines and modifications existed this year for the Fairlane family. They included a 302, 351, and 429 cubic-inch engines. The 302, on the low end, produced 220 bhp and 250 bhp after modifications. The 351 produced between 285-300 horsepower, while the 429 produced 360 bhp on the low end and 375 horsepower after modifications.

In 1971, the engines were detuned or replaced with six-cylinder engines, due to rising fuel concerns and strict emission regulations. The 250 cubic inch six-cylinder produced 145 horsepower, the 302 cubic inch V8 produced 220-250 horsepower. A 351 and 429 cubic-inch engine were still available with horsepower ratings ranging from 285 bhp through 375 bhp. The styling for the Torino's remained virtually unmodified.

In 1972, the Torino's continued to grow in all dimensions, even weight. The convertible and Cobra options were removed from the line up.

Ford had used the Torino model-line to phase out the Fairlane models. The Fairlanes were offered from 1955 though 1971.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2017

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