1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

Ford offered a modest but very noticeable facelift of its entire passenger-car line for 1958. Like the rest of the industry, it made the switch from dual to quad headlights as soon as vehicle codes allowed and had to redesign headlight pods to accommodate 1958's hottest design feature.

1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner front view
The 1958 Ford design called upon the new Thunderbird
for styling ideas like a dummy hood scoop,
trapezoidal grille opening, and oblong taillight clusters.

Overall, design cues for the 1958 Skyliner appear to have been inspired by the shape created for the new four-seat Thunderbird. Hood, decklid, bumpers, side trim, and taillight clusters were new.

The supercharged engine was no longer offered, but customers could still get a 300-horsepower engine, a normally aspirated unit of 352 cid that sat atop a new line of "FE" V-8s. A related 332-cube engine of 265 horsepower was another option to the base V-8, which was now the 292. A new Cruise-O-Matic three-speed autobox was the alternative to manual transmissions and the simpler Fordomatic.

1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner retractable top view
A vast array of wiring, motors, and other hardware
snaked its way through the Skyliner's insides.

Another hot item in the industry for 1958 was air suspension. Almost everyone offered the extra-cost pleasure of riding on pressurized rubber bags, and Ford was no exception. Skyliner buyers could ask for that as well, receiving a system consisting of compressor, pressure tank, airbags, and automatic leveling valves front and rear. Few orders were taken for the Ford-Aire option in any model, so it ended up being a one-year wonder.

Not as many people as expected bought 1858 Fords. In hindsight, some have suggested that styling hurt sales, but a nationwide economic downturn was the prime culprit.

The Skyliner suffered a substantial decline in demand. The novelty was beginning to wear off; almost one-third fewer retractables -- a mere 14,713 - -were built in 1958. It couldn't have helped that the starting price ballooned to $3,163.

1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner interior view
The dash for the '58 Skyliner was a retrimmed
reprise of the 1957 model.

See the next section to learn about the Skyliner's final production year, 1959.

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