A Summer Car and A Winter Car

This eye-catching baby-blue 1959 Ford with a Continental Kit is a rare Skyliner convertible with a retractable hardtop.

Ford had the first mass-produced American-made retractable hardtop in the Skyliner, manufactured for model years 1957-1959. Touted as a “miracle car”, the Hide-Away Hardtop was fully automatic. With the press of a button, the all-steel top would slide into the enormous trunk where it was completely concealed. The entire operation took about 40 seconds to complete and, for safety purposes, the mechanism would only operate when the car’s transmission was in neutral and the ignition key was turned to the “accessory” position. With one car you had the best of both worlds or, as this ad phrased it, “It’s the world’s only 2-in-1 fine car . . . a snug steel-top and a breezy convertible.”

These days, it is common for households to have more than one vehicle, especially in my part of the country. In our family, we’ve got to have a van for the business, we’ve got to have an F-150 for when our country roads are a muddy mess, we’ve got to have something reliable and economical for our daughter to drive to school, and we’ve got to have a classic because, well, we’ve just got to. Families didn’t always have a vehicle for every purpose, however, and I wondered when the idea of “two cars in one” got started. Turns out, it started very early. This ad from 1914 is for a KisselKar with a detachable top, making it “a summer car and a winter car”:

Hupmobile also featured a detachable top that year, making it a “two in one car”:

Ford had carried everything a step further in this 1912 ad, however. At that time you could convert your Model T from a summer car to a winter car by using interchangeable bodies to go from a roadster to a coupe:

As for the Skyliner, the retractable top was an expensive engineering marvel. Citing the costs of retooling it every year to make it adaptable to other styling changes, Ford dropped it from the 1960 lineup.


Burk, John. “Automotive Views.” Courier-Post [Camden], 24 November 1959, p. 8.

Ford. Advertisement. The Des Moines Register, 7 January 1912, p. 3.

Ford. Advertisement. The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 1958, p. 5.

“Ford Making Models With Retractable Steel Tops.” The Daily Record [Stroudsburg], 31 December 1956, p.9.

“Ford to Drop Hardtop; Retractable Convertible.” The El Paso Times, 31 May 1959, p. 6-D.

Hupmobile. Advertisement. The Scranton Truth, 7 November 1914, p. 9.

KisselKar. Advertisement. The Evening Journal [Wilmington], 12 November 1914, p. 8.

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