Thursday, December 10, 2009


Report by Mat Irvine
It may be a chilly December day here at SMN Towers, but the sky is blue and wouldn’t it be nice to have a folding hard-top to see more of that sunshine? Such cars are available and all owe their ancestry to the Ford Skyliner, the first car to feature a ‘convertible hard top’. A way-out idea in the 1950s, the concept has since become standard fare from manufacturers such as Peugeot, Ford and Vauxhall-Opel.

The Skyliner’s folding system was mega-complex, involving no less than seven motors, ten power relays, eight circuit breakers and nearly 200 m (600 ft) of wiring, all to move the hardtop roof completely in and out of the trunk. The video above demos you the lot in full working order.

The full-size car was produced from 1957 to 1959, and Revell made a kit of the last year of production, with a completely working roof. OK, you had to move it by hand, but given that this was in the early years of model kit production, it was still a masterpiece of engineering. It has been reissued a few times over the intervening years – including the ‘Skip’s Fiesta Drive In’ series and was later reissued in the Selected Subjects Program Phase 9 (Winter 1995). Revell-Germany’s 50th anniversary range also featured the car, so examples could still be around.

The pictures show, top to bottom:
1 Kit boxes from top left anti-clockwise - original, followed by more recent issues and most recent top right.
2 Roof retraction sequence of the Revell kit.

The kit is not made at present, though we tracked down a reasonably priced one on offer at eBay here.