Wednesday, March 25, 2015

1928 Ford Model A Roadster Pickup

1928 Ford Model A Roadster Pickup - Image 1 of 4

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1966 Ford LTD

1966 Ford LTD - Image 1 of 17

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1954 Ford Crestline Victoria

1954 Ford Crestline Victoria - REDUCED! - Image 1 of 25

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The New 2016 Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger 2016

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2017 Ford Raptor Echo-Beast

2017 Ford Raptor

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1966 Ford F-750 Firetruck

1966 Ford F750 Fire Truck - Image 1 of 16

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1939 Ford Deluxe Coupe

1939 Ford Deluxe Coupe - Image 1 of 1

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Discovering The 2015 Ford Ranger

2015 Ford Ranger Concept
Here’s a look at a few of the many great features of Ford’s new 2015 Ranger:

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Source: gearheads.ord

1960 Ford Falcon Ranchero 289 V8

1960 Ford Ranchero 289V8, OLD SCHOOL SHOP TRUCK - Image 1 of 46

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1968 Ford Fairlane 500 Fastback

1968 Ford Fairlane 500 Fastback - Image 1 of 23

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1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner

Source: David TempleAmerica in the 1950s

1962 Ford Falcon Coupe

1962 Ford Falcon Coupe - Image 1 of 10

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1950 Ford Custom

1950 Ford Custom - Image 1 of 14

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1940 Ford Business Coupe

1940 Ford Coupe

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The Ford Skyliner

Raising the Roof: The Ford Skyliner ‘Retrac’

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner badge 


As enjoyable as convertibles can be on beautiful, sunny summer days, they can be a terrible burden any other time, when they are too often drafty, noisy, and vulnerable. We suspect that anyone who’s ever owned a convertible has occasionally wished they could magically transform it into a regular coupe on days when the sun is too hot or the wind too cold. Fifty years ago, the Ford Motor Company offered a car that could do exactly that, creating a piece of mechanical showmanship that has only recently been surpassed: the 1957-1959 Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop.

1957 Fords are all but forgotten these days, so it may surprise you to learn that in their day, they actually outsold that perennial icon, the ’57 Chevy. In fact, the 1957 Ford was the best-selling car in the world. Ford sales that year totaled more than 1.6 million cars, beating second-place Chevrolet by about 170,000 units and Plymouth by more than two to one.

It was a hard-won victory for Ford, which had struggled since the late 1930s to regain its traditional lead in the American low-price market. Before the mid-thirties, Fords routinely outsold Chevrolets, but by 1939, their positions had been reversed and remained that way, with few exceptions, well into the 1950s.
1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner hood ornament
Like all ’57 Fairlanes, the 1957 Ford Skyliner’s hood medallion incorporates a tiny family crest and the letters “F O R D.”

It was not for lack of trying on Ford’s part. The mid-fifties had seen a brutal game of one-upmanship between the two rivals, including a vicious price war that did considerable damage to their smaller competitors. Ford and Chevrolet could afford to cut prices to the bone in hopes of becoming number one, but companies like Studebaker and Hudson could not, bringing those independent automakers that much closer to extinction. Another front in that war was the field of halo cars and headline-grabbing novelties like the Corvette or fuel injection. Many of these sold in limited numbers, and how much they were actually worth in publicity value is debatable, but they were a matter of considerable corporate pride.

Ford had briefly edged ahead of Chevrolet in 1954, but Chevy moved ahead again in 1955 and 1956 despite the allure of Ford’s glamorous two-seat Thunderbird. It was not until 1957 that Ford again claimed the number-one slot.

Ford’s success that year had much to do with styling. Beloved as it is today, the ’57 Chevy was not well regarded in its time. A facelift of a two-year-old body, it was unfashionable tall and stocky by the standards of the day. The 1957 Plymouth's, meanwhile, low slung and high finned, were certainly racy, but perhaps a little too racy for some customers, even before Chrysler’s problems with build quality and rust began to alienate buyers. In the best Goldilocks tradition, the 1957 Ford found the comfortable middle ground. It was noticeably lower and sleeker than the Chevy, but not as low as the Plymouth; it was modern but not radical. It was also larger than either of its rivals, which American buyers of the time still saw as a sign of value.

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner front 3q
Unlike lesser 1957 Fords, which came standard with a 223 cu. in. (3,653 cc) six, the 1957 Ford Skyliner’s base engine was the 272 cu. in. (4,465 cc) “Y-block” V8, introduced in 1954. The engine in this car is the most powerful regular production option, a 312 cu. in. (5,111 cc) Y-block with 245 hp (183 kW). A few ’57 Fords were special ordered with the rare “F-code” supercharged version of the 312 with a claimed 300 hp (224 kW). Most of the F-code engines went into lighter Customlines or Thunderbirds, but six supercharged Skyliners are known to survive. This color combination, incidentally, is called Colonial White over Willow Green.

Beyond all that, however, Ford also offered the most show-stopping novelty item of all: the Ford Skyliner, which was, as the advertising breathlessly put it, “the world’s only Hide-A-Way hardtop.”


Technically speaking, the Ford Skyliner was not a separate model: it was part of the top-of-the-line Fairlane 500 trim series, and thus properly known as the Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner. (If you look closely at our photo subject, you’ll see the Fairlane 500 badges on its rear fenders.)

If you’re only familiar with the stodgy, midsize Ford Fairlanes of the 1960's, the appearance of the Fairlane name may be a little confusing. From 1955 to 1961, the Fairlane was a model series of Ford’s full-size line, comparable to the Chevy Bel Air. The name was an evocative one for Ford; “Fair Lane” was the 1,300-acre (5.3 km²) Dearborn estate of the company’s late founder.

1954 Ford Crestliner Skyliner roof 

The Plexiglas roof insert of a 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner. (Photo © 2008 Anders Svensson; used under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license)

Confusingly, from 1954 to 1956, the Ford Skyliner name had been applied to a completely different concept: a hardtop coupe with a transparent roof panel. Originally introduced in the 1954 Crestline series, the Skyliner’s Plexiglas “bubble top” was suggested by either stylist Gordon Buehrig or Ford interior design chief Dave Ash, possibly inspired by the “Vista-Dome” observation cars that had become popular on passenger trains a few years earlier. Unlike the modern glass moonroof, which it superficially resembled, the bubble top was a fixed section of 0.25 in. (6 mm) thick, green-tinted Plexiglas. Also used in the contemporary Mercury Sun Valley, the Skyliner roof was a unique conversation piece, but it allowed considerable solar heat gain even with the nylon headliner closed and cast an odd greenish light on occupants. The bubble-top Skyliner sold relatively well at first, but once buyers found how miserable it could make hot summer days, interest tapered off quickly.

Undaunted, Ford offered the transparent roof again in 1955 and 1956, this time as an option on the Fairlane Crown Victoria, whose wrap-over bright metal roof trim provided a convenient boundary for the Plexiglas panel. A Fairlane Crown Victoria Skyliner cost about $70 more than a standard Crown Victoria, which probably contributed to its poor sales: only 2,602 went out the door in two model years.

After results like that, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Ford had axed the name entirely, but someone must have thought it had a nice ring to it, because in 1957 it was applied to the new — and entirely unrelated — retractable hardtop.

Retractable: The 1957 Ford Skyliner

Even in 1957, the idea of a convertible with a retractable metal roof was far from new, and for good reason. Despite its wind-in-the-hair romantic image, a true open car offered more hassles than pleasure: poor weather protection, excessive noise, and vulnerability to theft and vandalism. Fabric tops, even with proper roll-up side windows, were a half measure; easily operated, adequately padded, properly sealing soft tops were not really commonplace until the 1980s. As early as the 1910s, some buyers opted for a bolt-on “California top” for the winter months, the ancestor of the accessory hardtops offered on some later convertibles. The hardtop addressed most of the ragtop’s problems, but it was hardly convenient, since the top could generally only be removed with a wrench and had to be stored separately. The obvious solution was a hardtop that could be stored in the car itself and raised and lowered at will.

One of the first efforts at such a top — barring shade-tree improvisations lost to history — was created in the early twenties by a Salt Lake City, Utah inventor named Ben Ellerbeck, who developed a “shiftable top” for the 1922 Hudson Super Six. Little apparently came of Ellerbeck’s design. About a decade later, the French designer Georges Paulin, a part-time stylist for coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout, developed and patented a retractable roof mechanism that Pourtout subsequently licensed to Peugeot. Its first production application was the 1935 Peugeot 402BL Éclipse Décapotable, which was offered in limited numbers through 1940. In 1940, stylists Alex Tremulis and Ralph Roberts at Briggs Body Works developed a similar electrical hideaway roof for the Chrysler Thunderbolt show car, a handful of which were sold to the public.

In late 1948, Ford stylist Gilbert Spear developed a concept for a new type of retractable hardtop, inspired by a chance encounter with a prototype of Buick’s new Roadmaster Riviera hardtop coupe. Spear’s idea was subsequently developed into a 3/8ths-scale model called the Syrtis, which later came to the attention of William Clay Ford, younger brother of company president Henry Ford II and the head of Ford’s new Special Products Division. At the time, Bill Ford was planning the car that became the Continental Mark II. He was inspired by Spear’s design, which he thought would add distinction to the new Continental. In early 1953, Ford assigned a team of Special Products engineers, led by Jim Holloway and Ben Smith, to transform Spear’s concept into a production-ready design. 

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner roof action 

Some of Holloway and Smith’s team suggested splitting the retractable hardtop roof in half (which is frequently done with modern ‘retracs,’ some of which even split it into three sections), but they opted instead for the short “flipper” section, which tucks neatly under the rest of the roof in the stowed position. The Ford Skyliner’s rear seat had to be relocated for clearance, but it lost little if any leg or shoulder room in the process, thanks to clever packaging.

One of the biggest challenges of the ‘retrac’ project was the size of the roof. Both the Éclipse Decapotable and Thunderbolt designs had used tiny three-window canopies that could more easily be stowed under the rear deck. While the Continental would have a relatively short greenhouse, it was a genuine four-seater, so its roof would be significantly larger than either the Peugeot or the Chrysler, which posed stowage problems with the Continental’s short rear deck. Smith and Holloway’s eventual solution was to hinge the forward section of the roof, allowing it to fold separately and thus reducing the stowed volume of the top.

Holloway and Smith’s finished design was a thing of beauty, but it was enormously complex, using seven separate electric motors to raise the decklid and package shelf; unlock, unfold, and raise the two-section “flipper” roof; and lock the roof to the headliner. The whole mechanism was fully automated, requiring only about 40 seconds to open or close. Perhaps the development engineers’ most significant achievement was ensuring that the top mechanism was neatly counterbalanced; relatively little force was needed to move each component, allowing the motors to be lightly stressed.

Given the system’s complexity, the development was very quick and a working prototype (based on a 1952 Lincoln Capri hardtop) was ready by the fall of 1953. By early 1954, Smith’s team was readying the mechanism for the Continental, resulting in a full-size prototype called XC-1500R.

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner rear 3q  

The 1957 Ford Skyliner is about 211 inches (5,359 mm) long, roughly 3 inches (76 mm) longer than other 1957 Fairlane 500s, but sharing the same 118-inch (2,997mm) wheelbase. The side-spear trim, shared with the rest of the line, was inspired by the 1954 Mystère show car. Ford later reused the rear-hinged decklid concept and portions of its operating mechanism for the 1960-1966 Ford Thunderbird and 1961-1966 Lincoln Continental convertibles.

The Continental That Wasn’t

By then, Henry Ford II and executive vice president Ernest R. Breech were losing enthusiasm for the retractable hardtop and for the Continental program in general. Bill Ford’s cost-no-object engineering approach was proving to be very expensive, and some senior Ford executives doubted that it would ever make any money. Even without the ‘retrac,’ the Continental’s retail price was already approaching $10,000, nearly $80,000 in modern dollars, and a towering sum for an American car of this era. Bill Ford responded with a marketing survey showing that buyers would happily pay a $2,500 premium for the prestige of the retractable hardtop, but his older brother and Breech remained unconvinced. (Their skepticism was well founded; despite the Mark II’s high price, Ford lost money on each one it sold.)

Nevertheless, Ford was reluctant to write off the $2.2 million that Special Products had spent developing the retractable roof mechanism. In November 1954, Holloway and Smith began working with engineers at Ford Division to adapt the “retrac” mechanism for the 1957 Ford line. The Ford project was approved in early 1955, about the same time the Continental retractable hardtop was finally canceled.

The 1957 Ford had not been designed with the retractable roof in mind and adapting it was a challenge, requiring many unique components. Bill Boyer’s styling team had to stretch the tail of the standard Fairlane convertible about three inches (76 mm) and raise the rear deck to allow enough room for the stowed top. The fuel tank had to be relocated behind the rear seat, while the spare tire went under the trunk floor, where the fuel tank had been. Depressions also had to be hammered into the top of each rear wheel well to allow clearance for the top mechanism; they looked alarmingly like dents, although they were both deliberate and necessary. In all, the development and tooling added $18 million to the bill for the ’57 Fords.

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner tail 

The Ford Skyliner’s tail lamps and modest fins echo those of the contemporary two-seat Thunderbird, a resemblance that was wholly intentional. Note the way the rear deck bulges relative to the fins; the beltline height of the deck was raised to allow more room for the stowed top, which makes the Skyliner look a little bulbous from the rear. 

The Showstopper  

The 1957 Ford Skyliner bowed at the New York Auto Show in December 1956, more than a month after the rest of the Ford line, and didn’t go on sale until the spring of 1957. While its body may have looked a little ungainly, the operation of the top was dazzling. Adding to its market impact, shortly after the Skyliner debuted, Ford arranged a guest appearance on the popular I Love Lucy program, where Lucy (Lucille Ball) and Ricky (Desi Arnaz) visit a Ford showroom to see the mechanism in action.

Impressive, the Skyliner was; inexpensive, it certainly was not. With a starting price of $2,942, it was fully 20% more expensive than a Fairlane 500 hardtop, and that price did not include automatic transmission, power steering, or a radio. With a full load of options, a Skyliner would run close to $3,500, which was in the same realm as a Thunderbird.

The complex top mechanism also incurred a substantial weight penalty. The Skyliner weighed 380 pounds (176 kg) more than a normal Sunliner convertible: well over 4,000 pounds (1,820 kg) fully equipped. With so much weight, even the largest available engines had their work cut out for them. Although we found no instrumented contemporary road tests of the Ford Skyliner, Motor Trend‘s 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 sedan with the optional 245 horsepower (183 kW) 312 cu. in. (5,111 cc) engine and Fordomatic required more than 11 seconds to reach 60 mph (97 km/h). A similarly equipped Skyliner, weighing 530 lb (240 kg) more, would be decidedly slower — even more so with the standard 212-hp (158 kW) 292 cu. in. (4,778 cc) engine. The extra weight also served to make the big Ford’s handling and braking even more ponderous than usual.

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner luggage well 

This bin (whose colorfully decorated cover is not standard) was the only safe place to stow luggage in the Ford Skyliner’s trunk. Although there appears to be a lot of empty space beneath the vast rear deck, anything other than small oddments was in danger of being crushed (or jamming) the lever arms of the top mechanism. Ford offered a set of fitted luggage to fit this bin, but the Skyliner was not a car for long trips.

Despite the modest performance, the Skyliner was more practical than the Thunderbird and outshone even the T-Bird in its ability to awe passerby. Sales of the two cars for 1957 were actually very similar: 20,766 Skyliners, 21,380 Thunderbirds, the latter’s sales were inflated by an unusually long model year. The Skyliner accounted for less than 2% of total Ford sales in 1957, but it undoubtedly brought many curious buyers to showrooms, just for a chance to see it in operation.

Skyliner's Sophomore Slump

It seems to be a perverse natural law that the most elaborate and extravagant products appear just as the economy turns sour. The “Eisenhower recession” began shortly before the 1958 Fords went on sale, taking a serious bite out of mid-price car sales. A hike in the Skyliner’s base price to $3,163 did not help; Ford Skyliner sales fell by 30% to 14,713.

1958 proved to be a bad year for Ford in general. Buyers were not enamored of the 1958 facelift, which added trendy quad headlamps. Ford’s total volume plummeted by more than 40% from its 1957 height, despite the introduction of the popular new four-seat Thunderbird.

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner front seat

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner headliner
As a top-of-the-line model, the Ford Skyliner had an appropriately plush level of trim, including a well-padded headliner and a dome light. With the top up, there was little obvious sign that you were riding in a convertible other than the top control, which was on the dash to the left of the steering column.

That might well have been the end of the line for the ‘retrac,’ which was as expensive to produce as it was to buy, but the Skyliner had an unexpected supporter in Ford Division general manager Robert McNamara. Ordinarily, McNamara had limited interest in high-priced, low-volume prestige cars, but he thought the retractable hardtop was a good gimmick with obvious showroom appeal. At his behest, the Skyliner earned an encore appearance for 1959, becoming part of the new top-of-the-line Galaxie series midway through the year.

Although Ford’s overall sales improved markedly in 1959 — thanks in part to buyer distaste for the gaudy “batwing” ’59 Chevrolet — Ford Skyliner sales slipped further to 12,915. The Skyliner did make one other important contribution to the ’59s, however; its squared-off, “formal’ roof shape was adapted for the rest of the Galaxie line, which accounted for an impressive percentage of Ford’s total sales that year.

McNamara was apparently prepared to sign off on a fourth year for the Skyliner, but the 1960 big cars had a new semi-fastback roof that would have been a challenge to adapt to retractable form. With such modest sales, it didn’t make sense, and 1959 would be the end of the line. Many aspects of the top mechanism were subsequently reused for the convertible versions of the Lincoln Continental and Ford Thunderbird, albeit with a canvas top.





1972 Ford Pinto Squire

1972 Ford Pinto Squire - Image 1 of 8
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1951 Ford Crown Victoria

1951 Ford Victoria 2 Door Hardtop - Image 1 of 6

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Source: hemmings,com

Italian Builds Homage To Edsel Ford’s 1934 Speedster

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1959 Ford F-100

Left Front View

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

1956 Ford Sunliner Convertible

1956 Ford Sunliner Convertible - Image 1 of 50

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2013 - 2015 Ford Fusion TFL Grille


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2016 Ford Bronco SVT Raptor

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

1965 Ford Mustang Fastback - Image 1 of 50

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1957 Ford Fairlane 2 Dr Hardtop

1957 Ford Fairlane 2 Dr Hardtop - Image 1 of 33

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2015 Ford Fiesta


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2017 Ford Raptor EcoBeast


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2016 Ford GT

The new Ford GT is a 600-horsepower, twin-turbo, carbon-fiber monster


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1956 Ford Thunderbird

1956 Ford Thunderbird - Image 1 of 23
Exterior:     Colonial White
Interior:      Fiesta Red and White
 1956 Colonial White Thunderbird with Correct Fiesta Red and White Interior
Loaded with Options
Restoration Per Ford Data Plate Specifications
Prev. Rebuilt 312-225 h.p. Thunderbird Special V/8
Ford-O-Matic 3-Speed Automatic Transmission
Fords Masterguide Power Steering Rebuilt in Minter's Restoration Facility Ford's Swift Sure Power Brakes
Thunderbird AM/FM Stereo Radio
5 Red Thunderbird Wire Wheels
Concours Correct Firestone Deluxe Champions W/W Tires
Engine Dress Up Option
Twin Exterior Mirros
Ford's See Clear Windshield Washer System
Ford's Optional Back Up Light System
Optional Bright Stainless Rear Tire Tread Cover
Odometer 33,184 Miles
Restored Original Port Hole Top
Owned, Oklahoma and Texas, Both Southwest Dry Climates with Low Humidity

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