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year Ford outsold Chevrolet since 1935, a remarkable rise from the dismal situation after World War II saddled it with outdated production.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 look at the 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 today, it's difficult to believe that it's a 50-year-old design. The Fairlane 500 was the top of the Ford line, and had a new frame which allowed a lower height without cutting into the interior roominess. The car was longer and wider than in previous years, as well. Powering the car was the familiar Y-block V8, now punched out to 312 cubic-inches, with horsepower up to 300 via supercharging. This example has a 312 with 245 horsepower, and an automatic transmission. Fifty years ago, this convertible would have listed for $2,505 plus options of about $600.
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 Sunliner with a conventional soft top and the Skyliner - a jet-age wonder with a fully retractable hardtop. 'These are the best Fords of our lives,' beamed one Sunliner ad. 'These are the cars that will bring our way from today into tomorrow.' This space-age 1957 Ford literally glittered with 'Hi-Cantered Rear Fender Fins,' King-Size Jet-Tube Tail Lamps' and a wraparound 'Full-Vision Windshield.'
This Fairlane 500 Sunliner is finished in Raven Black and Flame red, with a wide array of optional equipment. A 'Lifeguard Safety Package' includes padded dash and padded sun visors. 'Swift Sure' power brakes and 'master Guide' power steering were other options selected by the original owner. The sporty, luxurious character of this line-topping Ford is further enhanced by its 'Town & Country' radio, deluxe center-mounted rear antenna and 'Sunburst' wheel covers.
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.
Amidst it all, Ford's retractable hardtop was the automotive 'photo op' of 1957. The Ford was all-new for 1957 and the 'bigger-is-better' Fairlane 500 set sales records all year long. But Ford saved its biggest 'wow' for January when it introduced the Skyliner. Companion to the conventional Sunliner convertible, the Skyliner was America's first production convertible with a retractable hardtop. The Skyliner used a series of wires and electrical motors that retracted the hardtop into the trunk at the touch of a button.
At $2,942, the Skyliner was the most expensive Ford for 1957. Even so, production reached 20,766 units, a remarkable showing for the abbreviated model year. The Skyliner continued into 1958 and 1959, and was then dropped.
This Flame Red over Raven Black feature car is an ultra-rare (one of 13) 'F' code Skyliner, with a 300-horsepower, supercharged 312 cubic-inch V8 underhood.
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.
This car has all available Ford options including Thunderbird engine and rare factory air conditioning. It was shown nationally first time after body of restoration in 2007. Won national first place at 2007 AACA winter meet. IFRC showcase and People's Choice winner.
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.
The Skyliner 272 cubic-inch V8 engine had 190 horsepower and has a 118-inch wheelbase. Weight of the Skyliner is 3,916.4 pounds.
Ford produced 20,766 Skyliners in 1957.
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 compartment and stored itself away under the large rear deck lid. These retractable tops are infinitely complete and thus maintenance challenged.
This 1957 Skyliner was one of the first 3,000 produced (Ford would build more than 45,000 Skyliners over a three-year period). This red car is powered by a 312 cubic-inch Thunderbird V8 and is full of factory options.
Sold for $60,500 at 2009 RM Sothebys. 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.
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 with nearly every available option, from a Continental Kit to signal seeking Town & Country radio. There is factory air conditioning, a 312 cubic-inch overhead valve V8, an automatic transmission, and four-wheel drum brakes.
In 2009, 'The Pup' was offered for sale at the Automobiles of Arizona presented by RM Auctions. The lot was estimated to sell for $50,000 - $75,000 and offered without reserve. It was sold for the sum of $60,500, including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
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 the trunk space at the touch of a button. It was innovative, but sales were slow as it was very expensive, somewhat unreliable, and took up almost all the trunk space when retracted. It required the roof to be made shorter than the other Fairlanes, and the trunk to be larger.
Lifeguard was the name of the 1956 safety package spurred by Robert McNamara, the University of Cornell crash research program and the first year of Ford's own crash testing. The package included two standard features: a safety 'deep-center' steering wheel, and safety 'double-grip' door latches to prevent occupant ejection in case of a crash. Three optional features were front and rear lap belts (first offered by Ford in 1955), padded dashboard and sun visors, and safety rearview mirror to reduce broken glass if shattered.
This Skyliner features the original 312 Thunderbird Special V8 engine and original paint scheme.
Sold for $66,000 at 2009 Gooding & Company. 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.
The Sunliner Convertible was the top-of-the-line Ford, except for the novel but problematic Skyliner. They came fitted with a long list of standard features and plenty of interesting options from which the customers could chose. Ford marketed their new line of cars as being thoroughly modern. The encouraged test drives to 'action test' the new 1957 Ford.
This Ford Sunliner 500 is a restored example that has been painted in two-tone Dresden Blue with the upper body in Starmist Blue. It is equipped with 'Select Aire' air-conditioning and an E-Code engine featuring a dual four-barrel carburetor arrangement.
In 2009, this Fairlane 500 Sunliner E-Code was offered for sale at Gooding & Company's auction held at Pebble Beach, California. The lot was estimated to sell for $80,000 - $100,000, and offered without reserve. The lot was sold for the sum of $66,000, inclusive of buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2010
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.
The mainstream Ford cars grew substantially larger in 1957. A new chassis allowed the floor to be lowered and combined with long flanks and tailfins, gave a longer, lower appearance. The high-line models like the Skyliner rode on a 118 inch wheelbase and were available with a variety of engines. It cost $2,945 and 20,766 were produced.
The retractable roof Skyliner model was a new model for 1957 featuring a folding hardtop that retracted into the trunk area. It used seven electric motors to operate the decklid and roof locks, as well as moving the top. Due to space constraints, the motors worked through flexible drive cables. The motors were controlled by eleven switches and ten relays connected by 210 feet of wire.
This blue and white example has undergone a full body-off restoration and features all options including air conditioning.
Sold for $71,500 at 2011 RM Sothebys. 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 'basic' but the others were 'Thunderbird' V-8s, whether installed in a Thunderbird or a Ford passenger car. The 312 cubic-inch version was the 'Thunderbird Special' and came in three guises, a single-carb 245 BHP version, dual-quad 270 bhp or supercharged 300 bhp unit with a Paxton centrifugal blower. Most of the superchargers were used to power the Thunderbirds, but Ford advertised it as 'available in any series.'
This Ford Fairlane is one of 27 Victoria hardtop coupes built in 1957 with the F-Code supercharged engine. It had a minor engine rebuild in December of 1976 and the original parts were retained and remain with the car.
The car was purchased in 1976 from the original owner, who took delivery from Texas Motors in Fort Worth. Currently, the odometer shows 86,000 miles. The car is fitted with a push-button AM radio and a heater.
In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the St. John auction presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $90,000 - $120,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $71,500, including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011
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 retract and the same to return to position. It was not without problems. This is the first mass produced retractable hardtop leading the way for what is today a popular style. Base price for this top-of-the-line model was $2,942 and Ford sold 20,766 of them in 1957.
Standard was a 2929 cubic-inch cast-iron V8 with 2-barrel carburetor producing 212 horsepower. A Thunderbird engine was available with 4-barrel carburetor and 245 horsepower as well as a belt-driven supercharged, 312 cubic-inch engine making 300 horsepower. Only 13 of the latter were built.
This car spent most of its life in New Mexico and California. The current owner bought the car in 1981. Then it had Western wheels and a rolled pleated interior done in Tijuana, Mexico. He drove the car for a few years then put it in storage for about 25 years, finally bringing it out for a full restoration.
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.
This Fairlane 500 hardtop is powered by the optional 312 cubic-inch Ford Special V-8 that produced 245 horsepower. This restored Fairlane 500 Hardtop has received its Antique Automobile Club of America Junior Award.
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 produces 245 horsepower. It is matted to an automatic transmission and has four-wheel power assisted hydraulic brakes. On the interior can be found a 'Town and Country' radio. It has been equipped with power steering and power brakes. It is a Senior Award winner with the International Ford Retractable Club. It was expected to sell between $45,000-$55,000. At the conclusion of the auction, the vehicle had been sold for $38,500. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2013
Sold for $46,750 at 2013 RM Sothebys. 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.
The Fairlane series was the top-of-the-line Fairlane 500 range and was given extensive chrome, additional C-pillar brightwork, and distinctive double-runner chrome strip with a textured anodized gold insert on the body sides. They were finished in two-tone paint and 37 different interior combinations. They were also the first mass-produced vehicle with a retractable hardtop (found on the Fairlane 500 Skyliner). With a push of the button, the Skyliner's hardtop literally unscrewed itself from the windshield frame and then folded under a long, flat trunk lid that lifted on its own to make way for the top. The car could go from a coupe to a convertible in a mere 25 seconds. The retractable hardtop would be part of Ford's lineup for just three years, lasting from 1957 through 1959.
This example is powered by a 212 horsepower V8 mated to a Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission. There is a heater/defroster, a clock, a later Kenwood stereo, wheel covers, wide whitewall tires, and a rear-mounted 'Continental kit' spare. It is finished in two-tone Starmist Blue and Colonial White. It was built in Kansas City and spent most of its life in Georgia. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2013
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 its chief competitor, Chevrolet, to become number one in car sales.
The Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner was at the very top of Ford's offerings for 1957. Its base price was $2,916. The retractable convertible was an engineering marvel: the car's convertible top completely retraced into the car's rear compartment. Power was supplied by a 312 cubic-inch V8 motor that developed 200 horsepower.
High bid of $35,000 at 2015 Mecum. (did not sell) High bid of $37,500 at 2015 Mecum. (did not sell) High bid of $37,500 at 2016 Mecum. (did not sell) 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 two matching spares. It rides on a rear leaf spring suspension and an independent coil spring front suspension. Inside, there is an electric clock and an AM push button radio. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2016
Sold for $65,000 at 2015 Mecum. 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.
The Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner Convertible was responsible for less than five percent of Dearborn's production that year. With a base price of $2,675, they were second in price among Ford passenger cars, with the Retractable taking the top spot. The Ford Fairlane 500 came with everything found on a base Fairlane, plus the 500's instantly recognizable, gold-anodized Fairlane Sweep trim.
This particular example is finished in Raven Black, code-76B, with a Black Haartz cloth power top. Inside, there is a red and white interior, a Town and Country radio, and a factory clock as well as hooded mirrors that are mounted on both fenders. The wheels have been upgraded to chromed wire wheels from the factory's wire wheel covers. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2016
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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