Part 2: The birth of the hardtop convertible
“1957 FORD FAIRLANE 500 skyliner the first retractable hard top convertible”
- Detroit automakers in the years immediately following World War II were fascinated with the hardtop convertible look, which essentially was a pillarless coupe that gave all the appearances of a convertible but did not fold down. Ford beginning in the early 1950s wanted to take the look a step further by have the pillarless hardtop actually fold down and disappear into the trunk. For the 1957 Fairlane 500, Ford engineers developed a complex mechanism that with the touch of a button folded the retractable hardtop.
- Lowering the hardtop required six electric motors, 13 relays, 10 switches and 610 feet of electrical wire. The motors worked in series. The operation stopped if one motor failed, requiring the driver to use a manual crank to complete the job. The operation started with the rear-hinged trunk lifting straight up while the rear package tray extended. The front corners of the hardtop then unlatched and moved back and upward before moving downward into the trunk. A 10-inch section at the front of the roof folded underneath to allow the roof fit into the trunk. The trunk lowered into place once the roof was tucked in. The operation took about one minute.
- Automotive critics and the motoring public regarded the Skyliner somewhat of a novelty. The car was not as convenient to use as a soft-top convertible and there was little luggage space in the trunk when the hardtop was down. Further, Ford used all-new sheet metal in the rear because the retractable hardtop required an extended rear, giving it an awkward look. The 1959 Ford Skyliner did not sell well, with just 12,915 units leaving the assembly line. It might have continued, but the engineering team responsible for its construction went on to other projects. Yet the Skyliner foreshadowed what luxury automakers offered beginning in the late 1990s with retractable hardtops for the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Cadillac XLR, Lexus SC 430 and the Volvo C70.
- Lets face it this was the perfect car for drive in movie Nights then but things have not change around Premier drive ins today….
Retractable Hardtop Novelty
Get your collector or prize possession car and head down for some movie magic under the stars.
The good thing about drive-in theaters is that you don’t have to worry about making noise, using your cellphone or listening to other people talk. The tickets are much cheaper than at regular movie theaters and it always includes a double feature (if not more). With a selection of nostalgic snacks that you don’t have to reach deep in your pocket like the indoor-theatres out there, you can always enjoy something from the drive-in theater’s snack bar to help support the theater. Drive-in theaters also allow you to control the movie’s volume, since you are using your car’s radio or a portable radio. If you like big screens and privacy, then the drive-in theater is a good alternative to regular indoor movie theaters.
You can visit the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Mustng Drive-In Theatre in London, the Starlite Drive-In Theatre in Hamilton, or the Sunset Barrie Drive-in. All of these theaters are owned and operated by the Premier Theatres Ltd. These theaters also offer themed drive-ins and a double feature for the price of $11.00 (General Admission)Kids: 6-12 years: $2.00, Tuesday Special: $5.00, Thursday Carload: $15.00, Holiday Prices (3 features): $12.00, 4 Features: $15.00, AND Kids 5 YEARS AND UNDER FREE
And one more thing. All of our drive-in theares are pet friendly.
Compared to indoor theaters, drive-in theaters are a bargain with their cheap prices and double features. The drive-in theater will allow you to enjoy an evening out of inexpensive fun and help preserve a great American/Canadian past time.
See you at the Drive-in!