1957-1959 Ford Styling

The Ford Mystere Show Car

Ford's 1957 styling originated in the "Mystere" show car, a space-age dreamboat typical of the decade, created by Bill Boyer of the Advanced Styling Studio in the summer of 1954. "The Mystere was a full-size car," Boyer recalls. "It had an operating canopy and a fully trimmed interior, but it was [only] a static fiberglass display model. It was done specifically for the 1955 January Detroit Auto Show. The Mystere influenced the 'swash' [bodyside] molding...of the 1957 Fairlane 500, and also the fin development on the quarter panel and taillights [of all models]. In order not to tip [our] hand, the Mystere didn't go into the 1955 Auto Show. I don't believe it was shown until 1956 or 1957, and then [only] as an idea car preceeding the 1957 Ford.. "

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The handsome 1957 Sunliner borrowed much of its styling from the Ford Mystere.

According to Boyer, the Mystere was created at about the same time that 1957 design development began in earnest for both the Thunderbird and the standard Ford. However, it wasn't until 1955 that management decided on two separate wheelbases for the passenger models. The original package thus became the production Custom/Custom 300, while a stretched version was decreed for a more upmarket Fairlane and the new Fairlane 500.

The 1957 Ford bore the imprints of several designers, none of whom can be fully credited for it. Boyer, for example, was heavily involved throughout the program, yet Frank Hershey did much of the early drawing board work, assisted by Damon Woods. Later, Bob McGuire took overall charge, with L. David Ash, Chuck Mashigan, and A.J. Middlestead lending a hand. Of course, Ford styling chief George Walker had the last word -- aside from company president Henry Ford II.

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The pretty Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria hardtop coupe with factory fender skirts and spotlight but non-stock chrome headlight rims.

Photos from the Ford Design Center archives indicate that the 1957 front end emerged quite early, with a blunt face, simple grille, and square-lined fenders brought down level with a wider, flatter new hood. It was a different story from the cowl back, as stylists played with a myriad of rooflines, A-pillar angles, bodyside trims, and rear-end treatments. Some of these were pretty awful, but the end product was smashing: the first of the long, low Fords -- crisp yet flowing, and surprisingly restrained for the day.

On the next page, find out about styling innovations dreamed up by the Ford team in 1957.

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