One of the most interesting cars to emerge out of the Fabulous Fifties was the 1957-59 Ford retractable convertible.


‘Ford really did have a better idea when they dreamed up this metal-roofed drop top during the back nine of the Eisenhower administration.’


The convertible was an engineering marvel; so much so that Ike himself even owned one.



Ford had designed an incredibly complicated system of cables, servo units and electric motors that performed space-age magic for a fascinated public in 1957.



I took a serious look at a survivor 1959 Ford Fairlane retractable back in the early 80s. Unfortunately the car was 80% rust and 20% optimism when I took a look at it. The main feature (that was so proudly showcased by its owner) was its working retractable roof.



The guy fired up the car and the metal roof disappeared in smooth silence into the trunk. It was almost enough to convince me that the car really didn’t need a priest and last rites instead of the finest team of miracle workers/body-men in the universe.



I was neither a holy man nor a body-man, so when reality finally kicked in, I took a very smart pass on the retractable.



But I will always remember how well that complicated system of relays, wires and channeled electricity made that roof work in a dangerous automotive jungle after a couple of decades of rust, corrosion and neglect.


Merry Christmas


Jim Sutherland has a huge library of articles-take a look around because we’ve probably talked about your favorite ride unless you are a huge Yugo fan…check us out at




DENNIS:”We called them “The Flip Top Box” back in the day because it was about the time cigarettes came out in flip top boxes and that’s the way they were advertised on TV. Yes, there was a time (before the “Nanny State”) when cigarettes were advertised on TV.

They were cool until something went wrong with that “Rube Goldberg” combination of stuff that moved the top and the trunk lid, then most people just left the top up (if they could get it up). Lord have mercy on you if the top jammed in the position it is in that picture and some did. As far as restoring one goes, if the top works, and you can save those “one of a kind” rear quarter panels, the rest is incidental”.