Pick of the Day: 1959 Ford Galaxie Skyliner hardtop convertible

Produced for just three years, it was a true ‘engineering marvel’

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The Skyliner paused in the middle of transformation

While a retractable-hardtop convertible might seem old hat these days, it was quite remarkable in 1957, when Ford introduced a full-size car with a steel roof that folded dramatically into the trunk and disappeared. 

This was only the second time in automotive history that such a production car was attempted, the first being the streamlined 1938 Peugeot 402 B.  Ford’s was named the Skyliner and it was offered for three model years, first on the Fairlane 500 and in 1959, on the Galaxie models when that name was adopted for the top-line Fords.

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The Pick of the Day, a 1959 Ford Galaxie Skyliner, is an immaculate-looking example of this rare model, of which just over 12,000 were produced that year.  The hardtop-convertible supplemented Ford’s regular cloth-roof convertible, named Sunliner.

“Only three years for the Skyliner!” says the Fort Wayne, Indiana, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com.  “1959 was the last year for this engineering marvel.”


Engineering marvel, indeed.  If you’ve never seen and heard one of these in action, it is quite marvelous.  Operated by a complex system of reversible servo motors controlled by a lineup of 10 electric solenoids plus relays, switches, locking mechanisms, cables and about 600 feet of wire, the Skyliner presents nothing less than a mechanical ballet danced to the accompaniment of various clicks and whirrs.

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The dance includes the top lifting, its front lip folding under, the trunk lid opening from the front, the whole shebang gliding into the trunk and the lid closing, all done automatically and long before electronic gizmos made it seem easy.

“The retractable hardtop works exactly as it should,” the seller notes in the ad.


The bulky top takes up most of the space in the trunk when retracted, but that’s a small price to pay.  Top up or down, the Skyliner is easy to spot on the street because of its shortened cabin and lengthened trunk lid, which is a cool look in itself.

Aside from the splendor of its roof, this Galaxie finished in Torch Red and White appears to be in great condition, and the seller says it runs and drives nicely.  The body, paint, chrome and interior look very good, and the seller says that it “needs very little to be a knockout.”


The Skyliner is powered by the desirable 300-horsepower, 352cid Thunderbird V8, and the 3-speed manual transmission is equipped with a manually operated overdrive for relaxed highway cruising.  The odometer shows just under 70,000 miles.

The asking price for this show-stopping Ford is $36,500, which seems reasonable.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

10 COMMENTS

  1. … this looks like a bargain! – restoring one of these is no easy task (retractible top especially); Fords of this era were prone to severe corrosion… this specimen looks to be very fortunate condition-wise – the upholstery and foil door panel trim etc appears very nice, which is fortunate since it is difficult/impossible to reproduce… it also appears to be manual trans! – a plus in my book…. the Torch Red/White combo is desireable as well; it was popular back in the day… if the body structure proves solid/properly restored this would be a wonderful aquisition!

  2. It’s not a Automatic these pictures show three on the tree and a clutch. But still a sharp one and my color thanks.

  3. Beautiful car with 300 HP and 3 on the tree too would be fun to cruise in with the top down! I wouldn’t want to have to troubleshoot or repair the retractable roof though could be tricky. Good luck to the next owner.

  4. Beautiful, one of my all time favorite cars. No continental kit on back is a plus in my eyes as they extended the entire rear bumper out when those kits were added which looks weird. Three piece bumper would have looked better. I also like the spot lights built into the outside mirrors on some of these models. A/C was also available on these cars, which is a plus if operational. These cars have been going up in value over the last ten years. Twenty five thousand was top dollar in 2010.
    God bless America

  5. Were these equipped with a “tub” in the trunk to hold anything you didn’t want crushed when the top was retracted? It does not show on. I do have some interest in purchasing this car.
    Bob Knowler

  6. My dad had one of these in his shop. He had to get the top working again. Behind the backseat is full servos and solenoids. It was neat to watch it all in action when the roof went up and down.

  7. Is it true that the car top had to be put up and down on flat and level ground or you had a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig problem?

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