Rotisserie restoration completed in 2015
312 cubic inch Thunderbird V8
Ford-O-Matic 2-speed automatic transmission
Factory power steering
Factory power brakes
Correct Flame Red and Raven Black paint
12-volt electrical system
14-inch wire wheels
In an age where brand aesthetics can easily hang around for a decade, it's hard to imagine any automaker turning out jaw-dropping but completely different designs for five years in a row. But, between 1955 and 1960, Ford did just that and, over time, each model has become an exalted classic. The 1957 Fairlane 500 is one of the most sought after cars of its era, with examples like this rotisserie restored Sunliner serving as great reminders why. There's simply NOTHING like it on today's roads, and that's without factoring the car's 312 cubic inch Thunderbird V8, 2-speed Ford-O-Matic transmission or striking red-on-back color combination that's guaranteed to turn heads. So, if you're the kind of enthusiast who likes to envision having their name engraved on trophies, take a minute to get to know this killer Ford convertible!
Driven mere break-in miles since restoration, and presenting much better than when it originally rolled down Ford's storied assembly lines, this impressive drop-top has been transformed into a take-no-prisoners weekender that can consistently headline cruise nights. You won't be staying under the radar with its professionally finished Flame Red on Raven Black paintwork, which has been correctly applied over a very clean body. There are no obvious signs of wholesale panel replacement, suggesting the car has been a straight, rust-free shell its entire life. Thanks to Jerry's Classic Cars in Springdale, Arkansas, that shell's fit and finish is almost good enough to turn reflections into reality. And ultimately, everything adds up to one super cool cruiser that, thanks to its spectacular combination of color and trim, has an absolutely magnetic presence!
Not surprisingly, this exceptional Ford's stylish body features a roster of cool and carefully maintained details. At the front of the car, a mirrored grille hangs simple parking lamps between a guarded bumper, fresh headlights and a classy "Fairlane" script. Behind that script, a gun sight hood ornament leads the eye to wraparound glass that's reflected by twin mirrors, cleared with bright wipers and framed in thick trim. Below that trim, traditional door handles, color-keyed fender skirts and prominent rocker guards perfectly complement expressive quarter scripts and rocket-like side sweeps. Above those sweeps, a tight roof folds beneath a centered antenna. And behind that antenna, an intricate crest caps an old school continental kit, which is centered between jet-inspired taillights, a heavy bumper and cool Delta Wing exhaust tips.
Tilt the car's sculpted hood and you'll find a correct, 312 cubic inch Thunderbird V8 that's fully rebuilt and dressed to impress. Introduced in 1956 as a high-end Ford and Mercury staple, this stout Y-block remained one of Dearborn's hottest factory options until late 1961. At the top of the rich red mill, an Argent Silver air cleaner draws wind into a big 4-barrel carburetor that's juiced by a series of stainless fuel lines. Atomized octane passes through a factory intake manifold to correct, cast iron heads that are topped by painted and Thunderbird-branded valve covers. At the front of those valve covers, a 12-volt generator and correct fan spin in unison as a glossy radiator keeps the block cool via pliable hoses. And spark comes courtesy of a traditional points distributor, which sequences fire between a modern battery and fresh plug wires. From its factory heat to its bright inspection stamps, this convertible's glossy bay presents a clean, authentic appearance. And best of all, the 245 horsepower engine fires instantly and sounds surprisingly beefy breathing through OEM-style exhaust pipes.
At the bottom of this Fairlane, a fully sorted undercarriage houses typically over-restored floors that are bolted to lots of factory-correct components. Nice enough to show but still fully drivable, this is the perfect compromise for enthusiasts who like to display their car AND enjoy fun-filled weekends. Behind the beefy Y-block, a stalwart Ford-O-Matic 2-speed sends power to a familiar Ford 9-inch that's fitted with pleasant, highway-friendly gears. The car's suspension remains close to its original configuration, with factory power steering complementing factory control arms and traditional leaf springs. All of the chassis' parts are free of substantial weathering, reinforcing the idea that it's been a very long time since this 500's seen daily-driver duty. Braking is quick and adequate thanks to power-assisted drums, which occupy all four corners of that chassis. And on the outside of those drums, Coker Classic whitewalls spin around classy wire wheels.
2-tone paint is legendary for its characteristically '50s feel. And when paired with this convertible's airy interior, it creates the perfect culmination of style and sophistication. Thanks to high quality vinyl covers, the car's power front and rear bench seats will be livable for years to come. There's tight carpet that, thanks to Ford-branded mats, still features rich red loops. Front and center, a padded dash hangs restored Ford telemetry beside a correct AM radio. At the sides of that dash, hip panels feature chrome door handles, small window switches and conservative armrests. And in front of the driver, a Flame Red steering wheel laps a chrome, Ford-branded horn ring.
This first class drop-top is a nicely polished piece of jet-age magic that's ready to be shown and celebrated. With its sturdy 312/Ford-O-Matic drivetrain, streetability certainly won't be a problem, and the car's impressive interior is every bit as welcoming now as it was when new. If you're looking for a first-rate classic to add to your collection, call and claim this incredible Sunliner!
Special exhibit will be on display through January 2019
This year will mark the 20th time that Ford has supported the the Experimental Aircraft Association
He finds delightful variety in style and price at third annual Connecticut sale
Pick of the Day is a 1958 Cadillac Sixty Special Fleetwood sedan, but for a little more you also get a ’58 Sedan DeVille
In 2001, I went with the newspaper’s movie reviewer to interview the star of ‘The Fast and The Furious’ in his hotel room
There might be plenty of tread left, but even with low mileage, old tires can be ticking time bombs waiting to blow
James Mangold has reportedly been tapped to direct the unnamed project
John Parham’s lifelong passion for motorcycles led to the establishment of the National Motorcycle Museum in his Iowa small-town hometown
This is the tenth and final car in a 10-day countdown to Barrett-Jackson’s annual Northeast auction