You’ve Arrived On a 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner With a Retractable Hardtop

In 1959 America was in a postwar boom cycle. Gas was cheap, jobs were plentiful, optimism was at its peak, and there was barely enough chrome to go around to meet demand. It was the era of tailfins and fabulously-appointed dashboards and interior styling, and the competition to be over the top was fierce.

During that year, Ford produced more than 12,000 Skyliner retractable hardtop models as the company transitioned from the Fairlane 500 to the new Galaxie series, and all indications were that the cars would be a major hit with buyers. After all, they possessed all the necessary attributes. They were huge and comfortable, ostentatious in a middle-class way, and highway-friendly. But it was the convertible and retractable hardtop that functioned as a signal to the neighbors that the owner was both sensible and intent on displaying the fruits of success.

The era of the most desirable Ford Skyliners lasted but three model years from 1957 through 1959. The special retractable hardtop vehicles represented a novel innovation and are once again experiencing interest from manufacturers and automakers, and these Skyliners are still very much the subject of interest among Ford collectors to this day. The original ‘Skyliner’ sported a clear acrylic roof segment.

The Ford Fairlane Skyliner – at least for a short window of time – claimed to be the world’s only production convertible to feature a retractable hardtop, and it was introduced as Blue Oval’s top-of-the-range model in 1955. Ford made them to rival Chevrolet’s successful Bel Air line, and they were available in six different body styles. The cars could be delivered with a choice of six-cylinder or V8 engines, and the entire range was re-styled for 1957, and during that period, the bodies were lowered and the post-1957 models were decked out with the latest in styling adornments – tail fins.

1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner

Photo: Hemmings


Rather more expensive than a conventional Sunliner convertible, the Skyliner featured a hardtop that automatically retracted the entire roof into the trunk with just the touch of a button. Many of these rare and historic examples of Detroit engineering prowess and ostentation were assembled at the Ford plant in San Jose.

The 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner could be delivered ‘heavily optioned’ with such features as factory air conditioning, power windows, and a power-adjustable front seat. But again, the selling point was the maddeningly complex retractable-roof operating mechanism that drew all the eyeballs.

This particular Skyliner is powered by the 352 ci, FE-block Thunderbird Special V8 – a factory H-code engine. A Holley four-barrel carburetor and a compression ratio of 9.6:1 provided the car with 300hp, and the Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission provided ‘whisper quiet’ shifting.

This Skyliner features a new paint job in factory-spec colors and each piece of the stainless steel and chrome trim has been removed and refinished. An additional option, the tinted window glass and windshield, are also intact.

1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner

Photo: Hemmings


The stylish interior has been entirely restored with OEM-type upholstery and appears to be in excellent condition and the carpets present in near-new condition. The headliner is clean and taut as well, and the dome light functions as intended.

The dashboard seems complete and functional across all trim and appears to include all small controls, the full complement of instruments, and a factory clock. As a bonus, this Skyliner is also equipped with a factory pushbutton AM radio.

The additional refurbishment was completed on the Skyliner’s power steering and power drum brakes and such items as the shock absorbers, master cylinder, wheel cylinders, and both upper and lower ball joints were replaced as well. The car also includes whitewall radial tires.

1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner

Photo: Hemmings

If you have the means, this one will likely set you back a pretty penny on Hemmings. 

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