Mike Hayes found a ’59 Ford Skyliner lurking in a parking lot. I thought it might make a nice bit of contrast to the Face-Vega posted yesterday. Talk about different approaches to end up with a coupe. Well, a coupe-cabriolet, in this case, as the Skyliner was the US pioneer in retractable hardtops.
But I always thought Ford missed a niche opportunity: turn the slow-selling Skyliner into an extended-cab Ranchero.
Who needs a 7′ bed on a passenger car utility? Imagine an almost 5′ bed behind the cozy cabin of the Skyliner instead. Still plenty of room to haul a few bales of hay or those big milk cans used back then. Or whatever Rancheros did (or didn’t) haul back then.
More like firewood and coolers. This is the first time I’ve stumbled into this ad, and it says a lot. Beautiful young adults having fun on the beach, thanks to the Rancheros, “America’s first work or play truck”. All the more reason to have a 5-6 seater version.
Don’t even remember seeing a 59 Ranchero. That was the last year, right? (full sized)
1979 last year produced in US. Still be built in Australia as Ute.
That’s a fun notion, Paul–maybe one of the resident Photoshop Masters can turn something out for you today.
I remember my “aha!” when I finally learned of the Skyliner’s trunk-rectangle indicating where you could/couldn’t put stuff. Maybe also create a Skyliner with a matching pop-off hatch in the trunk lid for occasional use for taller items, to keep the top’s functionality?
They say that most good ideas are not unique to any one person thinking them up, rather the issue is that most people think of good ideas and believe that it is so obvious that someone else has already proposed the solution they just envisioned and never act.
In 1959, for the most part, people did not envision trucks for also hauling people around as their main function. They were mostly used for work, and the beds got used. The Ranchero, being part car and part truck, should have made the leap to carrying passengers as well as cargo, but apparently nobody acted on the idea. The idea of extended cabs really only took off in the 1980s, IIRC.
Dodge had their Club Cab and Datsun had their King Cab in the ’70s
I thought maybe an Aussie ute would look the same, but it turns out that Ford of Australia was still making ’55 Fords in ’59, so their ’59 ute didn’t look like that.
Not quite, Ford Au did upgrade it with the 56 grille and parklights and later still they installed a Mercury Meteor grille eg the Star model Mainline ute, they also kept building the 56 sedan too Aussie fords didnt change like the US ones did, Kiwi Fords kept pace with the regular model changes but our cars were local assembly Canadian CKD models, Ford AU stamped their own. We got their utes too.
I have noticed lately that pretty much every 1957-58-59 Ford seen in the last decade, whatever the context, is a Skyliner. They are not as commomn as Tri-5 Chevys or Mopar B bodies, but I am getting to the same level of fatigue with them nonetheless. I suspect that they are kind of like the 1980 Corvette Pace Car in that everyone always considered them special and collectible, thus the high survival rate.
OTOH my enthusiasm really jumps if it is some other model/bodystyle.
Well, it would make sense that the top-of-the-line versions are the ones most likely to be collected and shown off at car shows, so the number of Skyliners versus a more common Fairlane or Custom is inevitable. Regardless, I see fewer of these than any number of Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, or Tri-Fives.I guess we all feel some fatigue in seeing the same ones over and over and over and over….
I feel the same attraction to the less common models, but in the case of Skyliners, a personal connection to them – as my dad specialized on the hydraulic tops repairs on them – keep me fascinated with them. I even had a chance to speak with the owner of one at a local show that confirmed the car, purchased new locally and always kept in the area, so it was a high chance my dad worked on it at one point or another. I guess that’s why I never really see the faults of these cars, and they are always a welcome sight at any show I get to visit.
I did see a nice 59 two door sedan one morning, very tidy possibly restored it burbled past me in fine style blue white two tone one day I’ll find it parked and get a good look, LHD so imported used.
The tall, ungainly rear quarters and back panel were the undoing of the Skyliner. It had to be to accommodate the top but it simply didn’t convey sleek, sporty at all. The long deck/short hood proportions were in style then, so that at least wasn’t a strike against it.
As most know, the retractable hardtop idea was originally to be applied to the Continental Mark II and they did succeed in prototyping such a car. Somehow in production, had the Mark II been beset with a retractable hardtop, the proportions might have been scrambled as badly as it did to the Ford.
I agree about the odd shape of the rear of the Skyliners. On the other hand, I think the Sunliners, especially the 57s, were one of the prettiest, sleekest cars of the 50s.
I’ve never seen it referred to as such, but the thought just occurred to me that the final iteration of the Chrysler Sebring (then 200) retractable hardtop convertible actually shares the ungainly proportions of the Skyliner, as well.
The only retractable hardtop that succeeded aesthetically was the Pontiac G6 which was nearly impossible to tell it was, no ungainly proportions.
The folding top didnt fit in the longer lower body style, but I quite like them they never sold here new but several have turned up used even in my local area.
Who needs and 6 ft bed really? Try putting a sheet of plywood in your trunk.You can’t even do it with an El Camino, the Wheel Well is too narrow.
6 ft bed, 2 ft tailgate perfect fit no over hang.The Rancheros never got respect the actually deserve.That’s my personal opinion l Own 5 at the moment.
This is my 59 I got her out of a farmer’s field for 3500 dollars I drove it home changed the fluids and put a Rust-Oleum paint job on it for a few bucks, it was the 4th coat of paint on the car. It still has the original 223 one barrel and a 3 on the tree standard shift transmission
I use it as my work truck I’ve hauled everything from railroad ties to gravel engines & transmissions and almost anything else you can think of I think I’ll keep her for a few more years the way she is since it runs so good with 26,000 miles on the odometer but who knows.
Nice, theres nothing quite as handy as a ute for moving stuff.