Mechanical Masterpiece - 1959 Ford Skyliner It's one of the most mesmerizing scenes to be found at any car show--the rising and lowering of a Ford retractable hardtop in motion. According to Ben Smith, the retractable's creator, "The choreography of deck lid, top and shelf panel all moving at the same time was a dance of beauty." The all-steel hardtop's movement seems like magic, but thanks to the help of some carefully engineered componentry that included three drive motors, 610 feet of wiring, 10 solenoids and many other relays, circuit breakers and locking motors, it works like a charm. For its time, the folding hardtop was an astonishing feat, and still remains so today, some 65 years after it was first introduced. n all, Ford produced 48,394 retractable hardtops. Its proper name is the Skyliner, which is often confused with the similar-sounding Sunliner name of the regular convertible model. The Skyliner was offered for just three years, and in 1957, its premier year, a total of 20,766 were produced, followed by 14,713 examples in the 1958 model year. When sales dwindled to just 12,915 Skyliners for 1959, Ford ceased its production as it was too expensive to manufacture such a complex and labor-intensive retractable hardtop in such limited numbers. For those three years back in the 1950s, Ford's retractable hardtop was the biggest sensation on the road, and no doubt contributed to Ford being America's best-selling brand for 1957. When first introduced in 1956 for the 1957 model year, the retractable models stunned the public, making them a hit everywhere they went, especially when the hardtop was in motion. Beyond its matchless removable roof, the 1959 Ford was a very attractive automobile, whose design was based on the 1957 Ford, but with four headlamps instead of two. In fact, so stylish were the 1959 Fords that at the Brussels World's Fair, the entire Ford model lineup was awarded the Gold Medal of the Comite Francais des L'élégance of Paris for its outstanding style and fine design. It was considered "the world's most beautifully proportioned car." In European car circles, it was a very prestigious honor. In fact, during the ceremony, one French fashion authority had this to say about the 1959 Fords: "Ford has achieved in this new car such a classic harmony of design, an expression of 'pure' automobile, that it will go beautifully in any scene of your life. It is a car for motoring pleasure--and it looks most beautiful of all when it is in motion!" While the 1959 Ford styling looks similar to the '58 model's, there are subtle differences that make the '59 a standout design. The hood is squared off and no longer fitted with a hood scoop, and the aluminum grille insert is strikingly beautiful with its "floating star" design. The side trim has been reduced in size and placed towards the top, where it flows better into the rear quarter panel. And with the unique shape of the front wheelwell opening, combined with the tasteful stainless steel rear wheel spats and fluted paneling, it's no wonder the 1959 Fords received such accolades. It truly is an American beauty. With a base price of $3,063, after the Thunderbird, the Skyliner retractable was the most expensive model in Ford's lineup for 1959. Its folding top mechanism was a complex affair, thus it involved a good amount of labor in order to set the top's numerous adjustments just right so it would raise, lower and fold smoothly, and without jamming. 1959 Ford! VIN: B9RW130869 Engine Code B V8 332 ci OHV - 2V Carb. 225hp Production Year 9 1959 Assembly Plant R San Jose, CA Body Style W Fairlane 500 Hide-Away Hardtop Production Sequence 130869 130869 Data Plate Information Body Series 51A Galaxie Hide-Away Hardtop Paint Colors DE2 Indian Turquoise and Colonial White Trim 34 Radiant Turquoise Sof-Textured Vinyl Bolster and Turquoise Striped Nub Fabric with Silver Strand Date Code 13A January 13, 1959 Transmission Type 4 Cruis
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