Rare Demo Hood: 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner

With only 13,144 examples sold during its single model year, the 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner was already a relatively rare car. While the owner doesn’t mention the fact, it would appear that this particular vehicle is 1-of-107 that came equipped with the dealer “Demo Hood”. If the available information is accurate, that pushes the rarity stakes that bit higher. This Ford is an immaculate classic that is ready to be driven and enjoyed immediately. It is located in Orange, California, and has been listed for sale here on craigslist. You can drive away in the Skyliner today for $25,000. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Jack M for referring this rare classic to us.

The Crestline cuts quite a dashing figure finished in Premier Yellow with a Sandstone Whitetop. The owner describes it as being a Southern California cruiser that is in excellent condition, and it is hard to argue with him on that point. The paint is smooth and consistent and has a beautiful depth of shine. The panel gaps are tight, and there are no apparent signs of any dings or dents. Rust also doesn’t appear to be an issue, with all of the external surfaces looking clean and solid. The trim and chrome seem to be perfect, while there are no signs of any problems with the tinted glass. The most distinctive feature of the Skyliner is the tinted acrylic panel in the roof above the front seat area. This option gives owners the ability to experience the pleasure of owning a convertible without the inconvenience of having to deploy a soft-top if the weather turns nasty. This feature was available on the Crestline range for a single year, and as previously stated, Ford managed to sell 13,144 examples. This particular Crestline’s party piece is the “Demo Hood.” This feature wasn’t intended to find its way onto any road cars but was a smart little advertising gimmick that was designed to remain on the showroom floors of Ford dealerships. The company had introduced its new Y-Block V8 to the Crestline range in 1954, and this clear panel allowed potential buyers to see this update without the need to lift the hood. Every Ford dealer received a car fitted with this feature, and the intention was for these hoods to be replaced with standard items before the cars left the showroom floor. However, some dealers chose to leave them intact for various reasons. Most commonly, this was to seal a potential sale with a tougher customer. Multiple sources agree that only 107 of these hoods ever made it out the door, making this one of the rarest features that you are likely to find on any Crestline. One additional feature that was incorporated with this panel was extra engine bay lighting. These lights allowed the engine to be illuminated for better visibility on the showroom floor. It would be interesting to know whether the lighting remains intact in this car. If it does, then that makes the vehicle even rarer. The majority of the “Demo Hood” cars had the lights removed before they left the dealership.

There it is. This shot perfectly encapsulates just why the “Demo Hood” was fitted to the Crestline. The 1954 model year marked the end of the venerable flathead V8 and the introduction of the 239ci Y-Block. That is what we find filling the engine bay of this car, backed by a 3-speed Ford-O-Matic transmission. The new engine brought with it improved power and performance, and in 239 forms, it punched out 130hp. This figure represented a substantial 20hp improvement over its predecessor. The owner claims that the engine in this vehicle was recently rebuilt, and scrutinizing the photos, it would appear that this process has seen the original exhaust crossover pipe consigned to the trash. With a dual exhaust now fitted, a few more ponies may have also been liberated. The owner doesn’t indicate how well the Ford runs and drives, but the fact that the engine has been rebuilt sounds very promising. What he does say is that the Y-Block sounds lovely through the dual exhaust.

The interior of this Crestine presents just as nicely as the exterior, and the combination of green, white, and black upholstery brings further touches of style to what is already a very classy vehicle. There isn’t anything to be critical of, because the upholstery is free of any wear or tear, while the painted surfaces look flawless. There have been no aftermarket additions or modifications apart from the fitting of seatbelts, and the factory radio and clock are intact in the dash. One of the interior features that I like is the half-moon glass panel in the back of the gauge dome. This allows the gauges to be illuminated by sunlight, and it just looks cool. It would seem that clear or tinted panels are a real feature in this car.

The 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner was already a rare car, and they don’t come onto the market that often. When they do, good examples will generally sell for between $25,000 and $30,000. This one appears to be a good one, which should potentially make the asking price very competitive. However, the “Demo Hood” pushes that rarity to a whole new level. If this classic is as clean and solid as the listing would tend to indicate, then it would seem to be something quite special. If you are looking for a classic Ford that will attract plenty of attention, then this is a car that might be worth a closer look.

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  1. GP Member

    WOW, What a great looking car. I have never been a yellow fan at all, but with the cars white top and my white top we could get along just fine. Thanks to the owner for taking such great care of this car.

    Like 27
    • ken tilly UK

      I have never been a fan of yellow cars and have even opted not to buy several at very good prices just because they were yellow, however, I would buy this Duesy in a heartbeat if I lived in USA and had the funds to finance it. It’s an absolute beauty and I wish that I was going to be the next owner. One of the best buys that I have ever seen on BF. Congratulations to whoever the next owner might be.

      Like 14
  2. Howard A Member

    Even with it’s outdated styling, still a really sharp car. While the “Demo Hood”, may be a novel idea, it wouldn’t take long for it to be coated with oil and such, and that roof, I heard, was incredibly hot, so much so, I believe a cover could be fixed to the inside. It would take years before the engineers said, “hey, let’s make it open”, and the sunroof was born. It’s amazing, what a basic Ford sedan could be made into.

    Like 21
    • Jack Hammer

      I think the styling is much nicer than a contemporary Mustang.

      Like 15
      • Jimmy Boy

        right you are jack hammer !!!!!! right you are!

        Like 2
    • David Fowler

      Pretty sure they did have a cover for the roof. I have a showroom brochure for the Mercury model with it will have to look in it.
      Ford did lots of things that just did not sell well. People were more into function in those days and a car was not to impress your neighbor was to take you to work. I have several of the removable hard tops for the early Mustang. They did not sell either.

      Like 2
    • Mountainwoodie

      I think there should be a snap in cover to go over the glass roof, if I recall.

      i was brought home from the birthing facility in a ’54 Mercury 2 door, the only 2 door we ever had. After 3 little kids I guess he decided a ’59 Plymouth wagon made more sense but not to this 5 year old!

      I’d rather have the Mercury for the tail lights but this would be a fine useful cruiser.

  3. MattR Member

    Stunning car.

    As for the engine hood, reminds me of some Ferrari’s I’ve seen: https://www.vividracing.com/capristo-ferrari-458-spider-carbon-engine-glass-unapainted-hood-p-151953705.html

    Like 6
  4. unclemymy Member

    I don’t lust after many things these days(well, I try not to), which really minimizes my longing for more money. But, in this case, GOD! – I wish I had $25,000 to spend on this car!

    Like 22
    • Tom Member

      You and me both !!!! Not a fan but I love yellow and that demo hood is really cool !!!! Wish I had $25K that wasn’t spoken for !!!Dang kids, college and taxes !!!!! UGH !!!!

      Like 15
  5. Bob_in_TN Member

    Very interesting and attractive car. A long ways from the family ’54 (which I barely remember), given it was a stripper.

    Those neighborhood pics don’t do the car justice. But, anyone recognize what looks like pics of the car in a museum setting?

    Thorough, well-done article Adam.

    Like 13
  6. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Beautiful, just absolutely beautiful. Had a 54 Victoria one time, I liked that car a lot, but the 239 let a rod go through the side of the block on my way home from work one night. Bought a 312 from a wrecking yard and out in it but some joker stole my radiator off my back porch before I got it finished. Then hard times befell me, and the city Impounded the car for expired tag.
    Life goes on.
    God bless America

    Like 8
  7. Miguel

    That demo hood would create a lot of pressure for me. I like my engine to be dirty like whoever intended. I would feel the need to keep the engine sparkling clean with this.

    Like 9
  8. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Never saw a Demo Hood before, very interesting. I have seen the plexiglas roof before, that I like.

    Like 6
  9. Paolo

    The hood window, is just more evidence of something in the coffee over at Ford. This appeared at the same time the Edsel was on the drawing board and I’m surprised it didn’t get one.
    I mean, is raising the hood to see the engine a problem? Furthermore, Oldsmobile did it first in 1949-50.

    In actuality I have no objection to this kind of automotive gimmickry at all. It’s kind of silly and stupid but fun and entertaining and I thank those who made this all possible.

    Like 7
  10. nlpnt

    You get a sunroof! Your engine gets a sunroof! Your speedometer gets a sunroof! EVERYONE gets a sunroof!

    Like 50
  11. Joey Machado

    This car was at cars and coffee when I was there. In person, WOW WOW WOW

    Like 17
  12. Fred W

    Plexiglas is easily scratched, even from nothing more than cleaning. If that engine window is original, that is nothing short of amazing.

    Like 8
  13. CCFisher

    If you google “1954 ford demo hood,” a surprising number of cars come up, considering only 107 were supposedly sold to the public. Perhaps the dealers transferred the hoods to other cars or sold the hoods separately?

    Like 6
    • local_sheriff

      You’re absolutely right about the # of Demo Hood cars on pics online. Since it was a marketing ploy rather than a car part; come ’55 and I’m pretty sure the majority of these leftover hoods were destined for the nearest dumpster.

      It would be very interesting to know how many (read: few) dealers would keep such bulky pieces in their inventory through decades waiting for THE customer on the lookout for a Demo Hood for his ’54 Ford. Don’t be surprised if many of the Demo Hoods we see today are of home-brewn origin…

      Like 3
      • CCFisher

        I’m just thinking that if Ford told the dealers to remove the demo hoods from the showroom cars before sale, but did not tell them what to do with them, the cheapest way to meet the letter of the law was to swap hoods with a car in inventory painted the same color. “You told me to remove the demo hood from this car. You didn’t say I couldn’t put it on that one.”

        Like 6
  14. Dhgravityfreak

    Literally 5min before seeing this I seen a CL listing for a 50s tripower y-block intake and thought…”wonder how cool that would look”. Then i run across this BF listing. A tripower would look awesome under that display hood! Plus the few extra ponies. If I had this car, i would add the tripower even if only fpr the extra wow factor.

    Like 6
  15. Craig

    My friends Dad has this same model car, minus the demo hood. It’s fabulous, and original. What a sweet example this one is.

    Like 2
  16. Matthew Gowdy

    In Florida with the Plexiglas top, we use them for solar convection ovens.

    Like 5
  17. Jim Benjaminson

    “Every dealer got a demo hood???” That would indicate there were thousands of these hoods as there were thousands of Ford dealers – and only 107 survive? Sorry, I have to question the statement all dealers got them. As a kid, I used to ride my bicycle past the local Ford dealers extra parking lot by his house (which was next door to the dealership). There was one of the plastic roof cars parked there for the longest time. I’ve often wondered what became of it. Even though Dad worked for the Chevrolet dealer a block down the street, they didn’t have anything to draw the attention of a young boy like a car with a see-thru roof!

    Like 4
  18. Vince H

    Never been a fan of yellow. I want this car but my budget says no.

    Like 2
  19. Kenneth Litton

    they made the glass top in 1956-56 also, so its not a one year option

    • tiger66

      Yes, but the ’55-’56s were Fairlane Crown Victorias, not Crestline Skyliners. The post says the Crestline Skyliner was produced for a single model year, which is correct. It doesn’t say the glass roof was available for just one year.

      BTW, the ’55-’56s were not badged as Skyliners. The ’56 uses the word in the brochure only and the ’55 isn’t called a Skyliner at all by Ford.

      • Greg W

        This was also an option on the comparable Mercury models. I have seen pics of Mercs but none in the flesh.
        The Ford version is very neat to look out of from in the car !!

  20. Kenneth Litton


  21. Bob Mck Member

    Like everyone else here, I would love to bring this beauty home. I hope she finds a good home.

    Like 3
  22. Bill McCoskey

    In 1978 a good friend of mine, visiting from Germany, and I took my 1973 Dodge Tradesman van and drove across the USA and back. While in the Rapid City area we found a huge junkyard filled with old cars.

    The owner was selling stuff dirt cheap. My friend bought numerous 1920s to 1950s hood ornaments, all pit free, for $1 each. [As a Packard collector I bought a bunch of Packard Cormorant hood ornaments, again for $1 each!] There was a Mercury version of the glass roof car [the Sun Valley], complete except for the front end and motor. I bought the entire roof assembly for a whopping $12. Strapped it to the top of the van and it stayed there all the way to California and back to Maryland. Sold the roof at the Fall Carlisle, PA show a few months later for $1,500.

    Like 8
  23. AaronC

    I’m a little confused about engine sizes for ’54. I bought a ’54 Mercury in 1974 as a beater car. It had a V-8 with a 4 barrel carb. and merc-o-matic I was told it was a 272 ohv. It was a notorious oil burner at 60,000 miles. Were there other displacements?

    • Matthew Gowdy

      55 and later made a 292ci. But can find no 272ci. 54 only had a 256ci.

      • Matthew Gowdy

        Oops Was looking at Mec. Ford gad 239.4ci. Sorry Bout that.
        55 Ford had a 272 so maybe a late 54 or swap.

  24. Dave Mathers

    I still have the scars on my knuckles from setting the valves on my Y-block 312 57 Ford nearly 60 years ago. Looking through that clear hood brought back many memories!!

    Like 4
  25. Jim Benjaminson

    Local car club show a couple of years back had all three on display – 1954-55-56. Unfortunately they didn’t park them side-by-side which would have made for a good comparison……

    Like 2
  26. Howard Drake

    I saw one of these with the clear hood as a teenager, I always guessed it was custom done ! Now I know it was factory !

  27. David Fowler

    I use to sell at swap meets and have seen the hoods for sale with the lights he was talking about. I think the price was $500 for the hood. Was this not also the year it was Pace car at Indy??? GM actually put a solid plastic hood on the Buick one year in the 50’s I believe. I have seen them at swap meets also.
    I believe Dennis Carpenter still has NOS tops and the rubber seals for these. I have turned them down as complete car for $1,000 before the rich drove up the prices.

  28. Joe Backer

    Could I demo hood my 47 ford pickup hood too? I have the need to show of my flathead… Then again I’ll just settle for some hood louvers.

  29. Jeff

    Keep Kewl And Drive To Bob’s Big Boy Every Friday When The Sun Goes Down.

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