• Attention grabbing Skyliner Retractable in fine working order
• One of seven sought-after American cars from the ‘50s and ‘60s
• Two sought-after US classics with ‘No Reserve’
A stunning and highly collectable Ford Skyliner Retractable Convertible that would shade even the latest Porsche 911 Targa with its crowd-pulling disappearing roof is one of the standout lots going under the hammer at Shannons Melbourne Winter auction on Monday, July 21.
This incredible piece of 1950s engineering made the Skyliner the word’s first production retractable hardtop when it was introduced for the 1957 model year and 57 years on the big and bold Ford is still a crowd stopper today.
Based on the popular Sunliner – itself a convertible version of the Fairlane 500 – the Skyliner cost US $2,942 when new, making it Ford’s most expensive offering in 1957 aside from the Thunderbird.
However its high price proved little deterrent to the car buying public, with 20,766 leaving showrooms across America.
The Skyliner’s amazing retractable roof mechanism involved a complex system comprising three roof drive motors operating four lift jacks, four door-lock motors, 10 solenoids and four locking mechanisms, with some 185 metres of wiring required to orchestrate the transformation from hardtop to full convertible in less than a minute.
The pantomime was guaranteed to draw a crowd each time the roof was raised or lowered, but while reliable, the roof when stored used much of boot space, so the fuel tank was relocated to underneath the rear seat.
Victorian registered with the appropriate personalised number plate ‘NO TOPS’, the stunning example being auctioned has been well cared for and its fabulous retractable roof is in fine working order.
Equipped with the higher-option 312-cid V8 and Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission, the Skyliner is beautifully presented in the period two-tone colour scheme of Flame Red/Colonial White with matching red/white upholstery, making it the perfect cruise car and a rare sight in Australia.
Shannons believe the Skyliner would be the star attraction at any show and is expected to sell to a Ford collector or lover of 1950s Americana at its estimated guiding range of $48,000-$54,000.
The Skyliner is one of interesting, large 1950s and 1960s American cars in Monday’s auction.
Others include a rare 1969 factory 400-cid V8 big-block Firebird convertible ($35,000-$40,000), a flamboyant and unusual, two-owner ‘Flat Top’ 1959 Cadillac Series 62 four-door pillarless sedan with a good history ($22,000-$27,000) and a rare, Australian-built right hand drive, four-door 1966 Dodge Phoenix sedan ($8,000-$12,000).
Two other iconic left hand drive Americans from the same era are being offered to ‘no reserve’.
One is a very stylish 1961 Dodge Polara Coupe – one of only two Polara Hardtops thought to be in Australia – and a hard to find 1966 Plymouth Sport Fury Coupe.
The Polara is an older restoration with a lovely patina, with Shannons expecting it to sell in the $40,000-50,000 range because of its rarity and spectacular Jet Age-inspired styling by Virgil Exner, while the Plymouth Sport Fury is a now-rare and unusual Mopar Muscle Car which is expected to bring $5,000-$8,000