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Lot 436: Ford Skyliner Retractable Hardtop Convertible

Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia, Bonhams (3 June 2012)

The Ford Skyliner "Hide-Away Hardtop," first introduced in 1957, was offered for just three years. It featured a wondrous mechanism that, at the turn of a switch, retracted the full metal top into a well under the deck lid. Ford had previously used the Skyliner designation as the model name for a special 1954-56 two-door hardtop model, which had a clear acrylic glass roof panel above its front seat. Triggered by a dash-mounted switch, the retractable hardtop mechanism is operated by 7 reversible motors, 10 relays and 13 automatic switches, all protected by multiple circuit breakers and inter-connected by 610 feet of wiring. Retracting the top reveals the Skyliner's striking tri-tone interior, done in an eye-pleasing black, white and red combination. Early in the 1959 production run, Ford introduced new top-line Galaxie models that adapted the Skyliner's popular squared-off roof appearance to a full line of Ford hardtop styles. The retract-able hardtop's model identification was revised at that time to include both Fairlane 500 and Galaxie badging, as seen on the offered car. The 1959 Galaxie design was awarded a Gold Medal for Exceptional Styling at the 1959 Brussels World's Fair. A 292 cubic-inch 200-hp V-8 engine was standard in the 1959 Skyliner. The offered car's data plate indicates it was factory-equipped with the 1959 Ford's optional 225-horsepower 332 cubic inch V-8 and a three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. Skyliner production in 1957 was 20,766 cars, with 14,713 following for 1958, and 12,915 more being built for 1959, the model's lowest production year. More than half a century later, retractable hardtops have returned and are offered by several manufacturers, proving that Ford's Skyliner may have indeed been a better idea that was just be-fore its time. Since being acquired by Gene Beardslee in the 1970s, this car has been respectfully restored while retaining much of its originality. Close examination reveals a car with largely original upholstery and a chassis that appears to have not been torn down for restoration. The car does show an older lacquer respray that still presents well, aside from some typical lacquer splitting. The stainless trim is quite good while the original chrome does show customary pitting in places. The car has been subject to quite a bit of recent attention and runs and drives well. Most importantly, the retracting top and its symphony of motors and switches are working perfectly. The Skyliner is accompanied by special editions of the factory shop and electrical manuals specific to this model.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Greenwich, Connecticut
Lot Number436
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$28000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$32760
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis numberB9EWL56620
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2