In April 18 IssueRussell County NewsBy Ron Cowell, Columnist
For 1957 there was a big new kind of Ford with the touch of what Ford had planned for the future. This brilliant new automotive package was bigger, easier to enter and more roomier than ever. Yet it sat lower, so now a man of average height could rest his elbows comfortably on its top and still get in and out of with comfort! It was also a lot longer. No one had ever seen such a beautiful sculptured body that said, “take me for a drive!”
What kind of magic made this miracle possible? It all started with a new Inner Ford. Ford engineers reinvented the automobile from the inside out. They developed a revolutionary contoured frame. It was a body that would turn heads, and new type of low-slung drive, and new level-ride suspension. Along with that they added a wide range of new higher-compression engines. These are but a few of the reasons why the new Ford rode silent, solid and secure.
Ford’s was the only low-priced car to bring you a choice of two new, bigger car sizes, and an all-new, longer, lower line of station wagons. Five brilliant new series to choose from...20 beautiful body styles.
As popular as the “57” Chevy is today, the “57 Ford outsold the classic Chevy in 1957.
Ford celebrated its’ Silver Anniversary of V-8 leadership with the widest engine choice ever! Both Custom Series offered the basic 190-hp Ford 272 V-8 in the Fairlanes and Station Wagon Series. All Series offered the optional 245-hp Thunderbird 312 Special V-8. Also available in every Series, at extra cost, was the special high performance 270-hp Thunderbird 312 Super V-8, and an extra-high performance special 300-hp Thunderbird 312 Supercharged V-8. In any ‘57 Ford, except Skyliner and Thunderbirds, you could have the industry’s most powerful, modern six or the economical 144-hp Mileage Maker Six, Fordomatic Overdrive or the conventional transmission available with any engine.
Ford’s new curved instrument panel also featured a new curved control panel and control knobs for your protection. The new sweep-hand speedometer and the generator and oil gauges with their flashing lights are readily visible. Even the new Bull’s Eye hood ornament was different.
Then in 1959 Ford Skyliner was a technical marvel but really didn’t do to well off the show room floor. The “59” had 600 feet of wiring spread among ten relays, eight circuit breakers, ten limit switches, three drive motors, four lock motors. It also had dash warning lights and, a safety interlock that prevented operation without the transmission in neutral.
Another new feature was added also, the Hardtop convertible.
Every one wanted to see how that worked. The question that was asked was “how can a car be a convertible with a hard top”? Ford amazed the public on how the top went down into the trunk compartment.
Even though the public liked the Skyliner it didn’t turn out to be the success that Ford had hoped for. After selling 20,766 units in 57, production dropped in 1958 to 14,713 and then in 59 dropped to 12,915.
The problem was the price. It was $437.00 to more than $500.00 costlier than the soft top Skyliner convertible. Buyers had a hard time justifying the extra expense for the hardtop convertible roof. It had many potential headaches, not counting the limited luggage space with the top up and no luggage space to speak of with the top down. It was also next to impossible to get to the spare tire.
Ford went on to experiment with the hardtop retractable for the 1961 Thunderbird but it never even came close to going into production.
A relic from the decade that brought us Hula hoops, two tone ball point pens and refrigerator door that you could open from either side, the Skyliner soon became a collectors item. The hardtop convertible was a short-lived feature that is remembered all through the years and will no doubt be talked about long into the future among car collectors.