Garage Find: 1957 Ford Skyliner

Here is a car that is as American as apple pie. While not a barn find in the strictest sense, this 1957 Ford Skyliner sure looks the part. These cars are not as instantly recognizable as their 1957 Chevrolet rivals, nor are they as desirable, but the 1957 Fords have an elegance all their own. The seller of this example states that he bought this car with the intent to restore it, but as is often the case, the restoration never happened. The car is located in Millersville, Maryland and is for sale here on craigslist. From the pictures, it is obvious this car needs a thorough and total restoration.

While the seller says it is complete, the car also comes with spare parts, which is nice as 1957 Skyliners don’t exactly grow on trees. What will matter most is whether the retractable hardtop has all the pieces needed for a restoration. While the ’57 Skyliner was a sales success with its debut that same year, the hardtop and its mechanism were finicky and often failed. A little over 20,000 ’57 models were built, and Ford called it a success, but only two years later the model was discontinued. Not many people wanted to pay an extra $340 when they could just buy the soft top version. It might also be hard to believe, but in 1957 Ford outsold Chevrolet for the first time in decades, making this 1957 Ford Skyliner part of the production year that put gave Ford “Best Selling Car in America” for that year.


This Skyliner is certainly the worse for wear and would take a dedicated new owner with deep pockets or a lot of experience to restore. Like many convertibles of this age that have been sitting for decades, there is rust in the floorboards, quarters, and elsewhere. There is some good news though! In addition to the spare parts, the motor turns over (it’s the little things), and the title and keys are both still with the car. The glass also looks to be in great shape, another good point. The interior also appears to be missing, and the paint is very rough. Taken all together, today might be more of a parts car unless someone has a collection of late 50s Ford parts or a soft spot for Skyliners.

Restored, these cars are worth around $40-60K, but given the condition of this example, the relative slump in values of 1950s full-size cars, is this car good for anything more than parts? With its classic white over red paint combination, V8 engine, and a pair of whitewall tires, it must have been quite a looker back in the day, but those days are long gone. Now the car gives just a hint of its former glory, behind the dust and the rust. Would you buy this car for parts or would you invest the time, money, and know-how to get this car restored? Do you think this 1957 Ford Skyliner will ever drive under its own power again?


  1. Howard A Member

    When I was a kid, late 50’s, my 2nd cousin had a car just like this. As a kid, I remember it being shiny and new. He was a tall man, and had to duck his head when that front top piece folded under. Several ( many?) years past, and on a visit, I asked what happened to the ’57 Ford? He said he still had it, but was undrivable. We went to the garage, and I was horrified, it was WORSE than this. The headlights were gone, and the doors sagged. He ended up junking it. While these are incredibly complex, the system actually worked quite well. I’d have to think it would be one nightmare after another restoring this. Sure worth it in parts for someone as most suffered the same fate as my 2nd cousins.

    Like 6
  2. Chip59

    Pack it up and send it to Jerry Miller restorations in Springdale, Arkansas along with a big fat check.
    Those guys do miraculous work.

    Like 1
  3. Fin Man

    Chevies V8’s were junk in this era.
    Ford and Chrysler engines lasted.
    How many chevs have their original engine?
    You have to doctor up a chev to get attention at a show. Need to add a lite show to attract attention.
    The geniuses at Ford created a work of art with this top.
    I repaired T-Birds, Continental’s and it’s not rocket science.
    More to the story of Ford and this top.
    57 Chevs were not the most recognizable at this time. The 57 DeSoto is the most.
    Cartoons, drawings exaggerating the fins with 6 tail lights were an still are way more widely used.
    Never see a 57 chevy fin used.
    Chev fin is not higher on the body. It is the height of the body.
    Therefore, not a true fin representation.
    The 58 Chevy is Way better looking than a 57.
    Finally a 59, wow, now, that is a fin.
    For you finless folk, you are into the glued on emblem things of today.
    Seen one, seen them all.

    Like 1
  4. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    IMO the 57 Fords were much prettier than the 57 Chevy. The soft-top convertible and the hardtop convertible (that’s what they called the pillarless coupes) were gorgeous. However the Sunliner, with its squared off rear end was not their equal in looks…again IMO. The Corvette-style hood was a nice touch. I’m not sure which v8s they offered (someone will know on this board), but my Pop’s plebian 4 door with 3 on the tree was a 260 I believe and it was a hoot to drive. Compared to his 54 Chrysler Windsor with the Spitfire flathead 6 and my Mom’s 51 Kaiser Traveler 6, it would scoot. I’d love to find a soft-top convert (without the continental kit, please).

    Like 8
    • Troy s

      Would have been a “Y” block, for ’57’s it could have been a 272, 292, or even a 312, I’m guessing on the 312 outside of T-birds, they came in various power levels.

      Like 3
      • Jack Gray

        I had a ’57 500 hardtop (no door pillar) with a 292 and Fordomatic . Would start to “float” once it got to 90 MPH and above…scary even for an 18 year old on the highways (US 1 and 301) back in the early 60’s.

        Like 2
    • Mark C

      I have a soft spot for these old Fords too.

      I was cruising around with my dad on a Sunday afternoon years ago when we spotted two white over red ’57s parked in front of a house. We pulled over for a closer look. The owner was on the porch watching us and was at least a six pack deep and friendly. He handed me the keys and said “you wanna drive the flip top! Have fun, and don’t come back for an hour!” The car was in nice “driver” shape; it ran and even sounded great. If I hadn’t been a poor 19-year-old, he’d have had a sale. Wanted one ever since.

      Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      You aren’t alone. The ’57 Ford outsold the ’57 Chevy by almost 7400 cars. I heard it said, there are more aftermarket ’57 Chevys than original ones.

      Like 0
  5. Dave Mathers

    The number of pumps, switches and relays in the little box in the trunk required to fold the top almost require a NASA scientist to wire things. And I still have permanent scars on my knuckles from setting the valves on my 57 Ford 312/245 HP car. Just look at how the exhaust manifolds flow UP and not down.

    Like 2
    • Lance

      Amen brother. Been there done that.

      Like 1
    • terry brundage

      no pumps, mechanisms cable driven with motors, relays in row behind back seat

      Like 1
    • Binford

      No pumps involved, all electric motors.

      Like 0
  6. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    One of my favorite all time cars is the 59 retractable hardtop. Agree that the trunk looks funky but that’s a small thing compared to the fun of owning one of these great engineering marvels. This example does require extensive work and probably would serve better as a donator for another restoration, but I sure would hate to see another one bite the dust.
    I owned a 57 Fairlane 2 drht in triple black at one time. It came minus engine and transmission which I had a 64 352 with manual three speed which went into the 57. Nice car, which I later gave to a nephew who quickly sold it.
    God bless America

    Like 0
  7. C5 Corvette

    What a shame for this Iconic car!

    Like 0
  8. Lsrry Ashcraft

    My late uncle bought a new 1957 retractable. It was the first new car I had ever ridden in. He passed away at a young age from Hodgkin’s disease and my grandparents inherited the car. They still had it in 1967 and agreed to drive it down 150 miles and let me take my date to the prom in it. Black and white, with full length skirts and glass packs.

    It was a glorious night. It was October, but we had to cruise with the top down that night. IIRC, there were 22 motors that had to work properly for the top to work.

    Like 2
    • terry brundage

      actually 7 motors but more than 6 limit switches…

      Like 0
  9. Binford

    No pumps involved, all electric motors.

    Like 0

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