Rare E-code retractable, 312 with dual quads, loaded with options, award winner!

Price: US $74,900.00 Item location: Macedonia, Ohio, United States
  • Condition: Used
  • Make: Ford
  • Model: Fairlane
  • SubModel: Skyliner
  • Type: Convertible
  • Year: 1957
  • Mileage: 52,443
  • VIN: E7FW307499
  • Color: Red
  • Number of cylinders: 8
  • Fuel: Gasoline
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Interior color: Red
  • Options: Convertible
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner

The 1950s were a time of unbridled optimism and Americans believed anything was possible. We’d just won the war, the economy was booming, and technology was leaping forward by the day. Our automobiles reflected this optimism, getting longer, lower, sleeker, and, yes, a lot flashier. Those big cars also needed plenty of horsepower to pull them around, and gadgets were a new plaything, ranging from widespread availability of power windows and seats to wondrous devices like Ford’s retractable hardtop, called the Skyliner. Incredibly well-engineered, they were almost a miracle of automation, using dozens of sensors and relays, 610 feet of wiring, and thee electric motors to create a mechanical ballet that literally and figuratively transforms the Skyliner into something truly special. You could almost charge admission to watch the top do its disappearing act, a feat that amazes people even today.

The 1957 Ford Skyliner was a show-stopper when it was new, and this stunning Torch Red and Colonial White Retractable remains pure eye candy today. Most significantly, it is one of only 39 Skyliners built with Ford’s E-code 312 cubic inch V8, which featured dual 4-barrel carburetors and 270 horsepower. Probably a good idea in a vehicle that weighs as much as this one does, that racy motor completely transforms the Skyliner from leisurely cruiser to downright energetic. The recipient of a comprehensive frame-off restoration by someone who was sweating the details, this is an absolutely fantastic car on every single level. When it was completed in 2007, it won a Silver award at the International Ford Retractable Club national meet, and in 2008 it won a Gold, suggesting that all the demerits from 2007 had been rectified. Today it’s not quite as crisp as it was when it was snagging trophies, but it’s still extremely good in every possible way, from the smooth-running engine to the wondrous top that remains fully functional.

Torch Red and Colonial White are this car’s original colors, and the finish work is extremely good. As I mentioned, the restoration is nearly 10 years old, so it’s not perfect, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find fault with it today. The workmanship is excellent and I wish I knew who restored this car so I could congratulate him on a spectacular job. The doors fit well, which is critical on a convertible (particularly a retractable), the huge quarter panels are smooth and ripple-free, and the whole car probably fits together better than it did when it was new. The red is vivid and bright and the Colonial White is just the right shade, not too bright but not too yellow, either, just a creamy, rich look. Of course, as a product of the 1950s, there’s tons of chrome (almost literally) that must have cost a fortune to restore. The bumpers are bright and straight, the grille is crisp, and it wears an unusual and rare front grille guard that frames the license plate, an accessory I’ve never seen before. The stainless trim, including the long spears that rake along the sides, has been straightened and polished and all the delicate ‘Fairlane’ script emblems are sharp and crisp. It’s worth noting that both of those accessory spotlights work and it wears bright hockey-stick-shaped trim on the rocker, which I believe was optional. It also carries accessory fender skirts and special exhaust tips that were a dealer-installed extra.

The two-tone red and white interior was restored to factory specs, including that wonderfully 1950s fabric on the seating surfaces. There’s a bit of wear on the driver’s seat piping, which is probably inevitable for a high-traffic area like this, but just about everything else is quite fresh. Deep, plush red carpets are protected by embroidered floor mats and the ornate door panels echo the shape and styling of the stainless spears on the other side of the sheetmetal. You’ll note that this car is equipped with both power windows and a power front seat, and they all function properly. In fact, it appears that everything works like it should, from the Town & Country AM radio in the center of the dash to the clock that I can hear ticking away reliably every time I walk past the car here in the shop. The factory instrument panel is a wide crescent of gauges with secondary controls underneath, and the 52,443 miles shown may very well be authentic given the condition of the car at a base level. An auxiliary oil pressure gauge has been added under the dash, and shows a healthy 25-30 PSI at warm idle. And yes, most importantly, the retractable hardtop mechanism is fully functional, powering up and down with remarkable ease. Remarkably the whole assembly is carefully counter-balanced, so the electric motors don’t have to work very hard to move it, and it’s a lot of fun to listen to the clicking of the relays telling each other what to do next as it moves through its travel. Unfortunately, the downside to the retractable is that the giant trunk is all but useless, save for a small milk crate-shaped box that represents the “safe” area for storing your gear. On the other hand, leave the top up and you have a massive storage bay, perfect for long trips. There’s a full-sized spare tire cleverly hidden underneath the box and a correct jack assembly strapped to the bulkhead.

But the real reason this Skyliner is special is under the forward-tilting hood. Ford makes it easy to see what engine a car has by coding it as the first letter of the VIN, and in this car’s case, it’s an “E” which stood for 312 cubic inches and two 4-barrel carburetors. Most retractables carried a single 4-barrel engine, which was ostensibly identical to the Thunderbird’s powerplant, but the second carburetor transforms the big cruiser in a significant way. This one is neatly dressed with Thunderbird dress-up valve covers and that unique air cleaner, which allows everyone to see at a glance that this is a unique car. Only 39 Skyliners were equipped with the E-code engine, making it rare and desirable, if only for how well it powers this heavy car around. It’s very nicely detailed, including proper hose clamps, a reproduction battery, and correct stampings throughout the engine bay. This car is also equipped with power steering, which is probably mandatory on something this large, as well as a purring dual exhaust system that sounds great without getting annoying at cruising speed.

You’d think that with twin carburetors, it would be fussy, but this is one of the least-fussy carbureted cars of any type we’ve ever experienced. Tip the throttle about an inch (no pumping required!), turn the key, and the muscular 312 springs to life quickly and easily, settling into an even idle immediately. No fussing, no crankiness, no rough idle when it’s cold, just a finely-tuned machine that someone obviously spent a ton of time getting right. It’s quite impressive. On the road, it pulls well and you can feel a soft stop in the throttle travel warning you that you’re about to dip into the second carburetor’s reserves, and at that point, there’s a surprising surge of power. The two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic shifts well, and the car cruises wonderfully at modern highway speeds, never seeming to work very hard. The dual exhaust system has mellow-sounding mufflers and those delta-wing exhaust tips do look pretty cool under the rear bumper. The undercarriage was surely fully restored with the rest of the car, and today shows some signs of having been driven, mostly dirt and road spray, but no rust or signs of patch work, so we’re guessing this car lived its life in a warm climate. With 3.56 gears out back, it’s definitely peppy and the 215/70/14 Coker wide whitewall radials on factory wheels and hubcaps greatly improve the ride and handling. This car drives every bit as great as it looks.

This is one of those cars that just gets better and better the more you look at it. The important things—the top and engine—work as they should and the awesome ‘50s look is hard to beat. Add in the exclusivity of the E-code engine, the top-flight restoration, and a long list of factory options, and you get one of the most desirable, valuable Skyliners available anywhere. Call today!