Jere M’s Restoration Project for his 1957 Ford Retractable Hardtop – “A Labor of Love”

Jere M
Jere M

A “Labor of Love”

In 1972 Jere bought his 1957 Ford convertible hardtop for $300. Of course, it had no motor or tires. Jere found a motor on a farm in Sherborn, MA and had it completely rebuilt in 1974. He drove the Ford in Natick’s 1976 centenial 4th of July parade. In 1981, Jere had a medical setback and the Ford sat for 25 years.

“The 1957 Ford Skyliner bowed at the New York Auto Show in December 1956. Impressive, the Skyliner was; inexpensive, it certainly was not. With a full load of options, a Skyliner would run close to $3,500. The complex top mechanism also incurred a substantial weight penalty, well over 4,000 pounds fully equipped. 

The 1957 Ford had not been designed with the retractable roof in mind and adapting it was a challenge, requiring many unique components. Bill Boyer’s styling team had to stretch the tail of the standard Fairlane convertible about 3 inches and raise the rear deck to allow enough room for the stowed top. The fuel tank had to be relocated behind the rear seat while the spare tire went under the trunk floor, where the fuel tank had been. Depressions also had to be hammered into the top of each rear wheel well to allow clearance for the top mechanism. The Ford Skyliner’s rear seat had to be relocated for clearance. The finished design was a thing of beauty, but it was enormously complex, using seven separate electric motors to raise the decklid and package shelf; unlock, unfold, and raise the two-section “flipper” roof; and lock the roof to the headliner. The whole mechanism was fully automated, requiring only about 40 seconds to open or close. Perhaps the development engineers’ most significant achievement was ensuring that the top mechanism was neatly counterbalanced; relatively little force was needed to move each component, allowing the motors to be lightly stressed.”

Well let’s get back to our story. Jere is back at the restoration, at least 4 hours a day Monday through Friday at his working garage in Ashland, MA. Jere had a number of things he wanted fix before the car season starts in April. He replaced the motor mounts which were cracked, tie rods, upper / lower ball joints, upper / lower A-frame bushings and stabilizer rubbers. He installed a new dash and replaced the dashboard wires. He’s having the original radio updated to am/fm. I’m very interested to see how that works out. Jere installed all new tinted glass, carpet and headliner. He plans to replace the windshield later this year. Jere was given an original Delco battery, never filled with acid, that is also in the plans. Jere did the upholstery and recarpeting himself as well as getting the power windows and power seats in working order. This car had all the whisles and bells you could have in 1957.

Next comes the painting tasks to make the Ford match colors when rolling off the assembly line in 1957. Jere is painting all the white with the proper color. What’s there now is not quite correct. He has removed the fenders,wheel wells, hood and ornaments to paint. Right now the car is completely disassembled. I have no doubts that Jere will have it done before the start of car show season.

Finally, we get to the hardtop convertible mechanisms. Jere has a whole book of schmatics that show how the mechanisms work…..10 solenoids, wiring harness from firewall to trunk. The whole process to raise and lower the hardtop consists of a series of motors working in serial to complete the synchronized series of actions to accomplish the task….raise and lower. Jere plans to start the restoration of the convertible hardtop now and complete it later this year.

Target is to get the car ready for the Modifiers Car club dust-off April 23rd at C J’s Northside Grill in Framingham.

Click on link to see Jere’s “Labor of Love” video

John Nemeczky
Member of the Modifiers Car Club since January 2014. Has owned an antique car since 2004 . Currently owns an original 1951 Mercury Sport Sedan with a flat-head V-8, suicide doors, dual exhausts and skirts. Previously owned a 1950 Dodge Coronet.
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