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1957-1959 Ford Styling

The 1957 Ford Interiors, Reviews, and Production
Compared to its immediate predecessors, the 1957 Ford looked as different from the inside as it did on the outside. Slipping behind the wheel, you surveyed the new near-flat hood-line through a lower and wider wrapped windshield. Instead of the vertical placement of 1955-1956, the A-pillars angled back toward the bottom more noticeably -- and sometimes painfully: the "dogleg" was a knee-banging nuisance on most mid-Fifties Detroiters.

The dashboard was all-new but still pleasingly simple. A slightly curved "strip" speedometer flanked by fuel and engine temperature gauges formed an arc under a wider instrument "visor" just ahead of the deep-dish steering wheel, which was slightly smaller and lower-set than the 1956 helm.

1957 Ford Country Squire
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The woody-look Country Squire remained Ford's top wagon for 1957. The roof rack cost extra.

Ignition was still to the left of the steering column per recent Ford practice, along with the lights switch, matched on the lower right by wiper knob and cigarette lighter. Heater controls, radio, and optional clock were spread in the upper middle of the panel. You sit up close to the wheel and windshield, much the same as in a Continental Mark II, in fact. Naturally, interiors were color-keyed to the exteriors, with all-vinyl and vinyl/fabric combinations in bright two-tones.

The 1957 Ford garnered mostly glowing reviews. Motor Trend magazine's was typical. After testing a Fairlane sedan with standard shift and the 245-horsepower Thunderbird Special V-8, the editors reported: "From 0 to 60 it took 9.5 seconds (two seconds quicker than last year's Fordomatic-equipped test car), which is real rapid time in anyone's book. With a car as new as this, we were more than anxious to see what kind of roadability was built into it, especially in view of the obviously lowered center of gravity. We started...on exceptionally rough roads and noticed a definite improvement in spring and shock action over 1956. On rather smooth roads, we noticed a minimum of nose dip when braking. The brakes seemed smooth and positive. Violent cornering brought out the advantages of a low center of gravity. The new Ford really sticks. Body lean is modest, and with the built-in oversteer, you get a feeling of confidence in the car's ability to do your bidding."

MT later tested a Fairlane 500 four-door with the same engine and Fordomatic, and did 0-1960 mph in 11.1 seconds. Though critical of that car's poor workmanship, the editors praised Ford's high mechanical quality and excellent overall roadability.

The 1957 Skyliner in open form and flipping its lid.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
This shot shows the 1957 Ford Skyliner retracting its convertible top.

With all this, 1957 proved a tremendous year for Ford. New muscle and the tasteful "longer-lower-wider" styling had great appeal in a strong sales year, and production hit a record 1.67 million units for the model year, 170,000 more than Chevrolet. Convertible output also set a record: 77,726 of the conventional soft-top Sunliners plus another 20,766 of the new Skyliner retractable hardtops. Some statistics showed Ford ahead of Chevy in sales for the first time since 1935, but the race was virtually a dead heat. Nevertheless, Dearborn product planners had every reason to be quite pleased with themselves.

On the next page, read about Ford's updated styling for its 1958 models.

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