Ford creates modern marvel with first mass-produced hardtop convertible

(December 26, 2014) One of the hottest television couples of the 1950s was Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz starring in "I Love Lucy," the most watched show in the U.S. for four years of its six-year run from 1951 to 1957. So they were the perfect couple to tout the new Ford hardtop convertible in a two-minute advertisement. One of the automotive industry's modern marvels, Ford introduced the removal hardtop on the 1957 Skyliner.

A total of 48,394 were built from 1957 to 1959. The retractable top was noted for Its complexity for era was nothing short of amazing. Its mechanism contained 10 power relays, 10 limit switches, four lock motors, three drive motors, eight circuit breakers, as well as 610 feet of electrical wire, and could raise or lower the top in about 40 seconds.

Production totaled 20,766 units in 1957, declining to 14,713 in 1958 and to 12,915 in 1959.An electric clock was standard. Fuel consumption was around 14 mpg overall.The fuel tank was placed under the rear seat, which inadvertently added safety in rear collisions.

At the time of its introduction, the Skyliner was the only true hardtop convertible in the world. Today, it has become a very valuable collectible car, with high-point, well-restored examples costing upwards of $73,000.

Sales of the unique convertible fell after its initial year, probably because of the cost — the Skyliner was about twice the purchase price of a standard Ford and it lacked trunk space.

But it was a marvel as depicted in this 1957 video. We suspect that Lucy and Desi had one in their garage shortly after this commercial was filmed.

Sources: Wikipedia, How Stuff Works