May 30, 2024

Classic Wheels Spotlight: 1959 Ford Skyline

Ford Skyline Retractable Fairlane 500 is a star of 1959

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1959 Ford Skyline Front

Jimmy Tobias’ 1959 Ford Skyline Retractable Fairlane 500 has been in his family since 1968. It first arrived via his brother-in-law, who bought it from a used car dealer in Chicago. In 1971, Jimmy’s brother bought it from his brother-in-law. He drove it for a couple of years until it developed engine problems. Then, Jimmy, 13, and his father took possession of the car and it sat in their garage for a year.

According to Jimmy, when their next-door neighbor, who also had a 1959 Skyline that had some issues, was ready to sell his car, Dad bought it for parts, saying, “This car will be a classic someday.”

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1959 Ford Skyline Side

The engine in his neighbor’s Skyline, and other items, were taken out, including all of the trim and other miscellaneous usable parts. Jimmy and his dad rebuilt the engine. The project took about a year and a half. Jimmy recalls being a teenager didn’t make the time go by very fast, and he couldn’t wait for the job to be completed. By the time he turned 16, the engine was back in the car, and he started driving it as soon as he got his license.

Over the next several years, the car was painted black, and they referred to it as ‘The Batman Car.’ When Jimmy got older and started his own family, the car went into storage but was never forgotten. Always with the thought of restoring it by himself, Jimmy realized time was slipping away.

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1959 Ford Skyline Rear

In 2005, with the help of a local body shop, the work finally got done. The paint was stripped off, the metal work completed, and the car was painted to the original colors. Next, the interior was removed and cleaned up. All of the dashboard trim was removed and polished to a gleaming luster. Newer carpets were installed to finish off the cabin.

While Jimmy had the car in the shop, all of the gaskets were replaced to address a couple of small oil leaks. The 352-cubic-inch police interceptor engine features a 4-bbl. carburetor. The transmission has been rebuilt twice, keeping the drivetrain as original as possible. The only thing Jimmy has considered upgrading is the ignition system, maybe going with an electronic set-up. For now, he plans to keep the factory parts. Even the brakes haven’t yet been upgraded.

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1959 Ford Skyline Interior

Jimmy says there was a dealer sticker on the back of the Skyline that showed the car was from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Since the car has been in his family since 1968, he knows most of the story behind his car.

From time to time, Jimmy’s brother teases him that it is really his Skyline, which just leads to a lot of laughs and more stories about the car. While he does like to drive it in the Mexican parades in his area, Jimmy doesn’t take the car to many shows these days, although he did show it last year and took a Best in Show award. This classic definitely turns heads!

What aspect of his 1959 Ford Skyline Retractable Fairlane 500 does Jimmy like the most? “Hands down – it is the top!”

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