Frank Tobe entered his Ford Skyliner with a retractable hard top in the Kalida PIoneer Car Show. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
Frank Tobe entered his Ford Skyliner with a retractable hard top in the Kalida PIoneer Car Show. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)

GLANDORF - Frank Tobe owned a special car in the 1960s. It was a Ford Skyliner with a retractable hard top.

"But I sold it so I would have money to get married," Frank said.

He was not alone in loving this style of car. It was reported that back in the days when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the 1957-1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner retractable hardtop was a sensation of the first order, so much so that "Ike" even ordered an early example for himself.

In 1984 Frank saw his opportunity to once again become the owner of a Skyliner with a retractable hard top.

"I heard about one in Delphos and went over to see it," Frank said.

The car's owners were Mike and Martha Lehman with Lehman Furniture. Frank took a friend from Wapakoneta who laid all the parts to the car out on the garage floor and declared all of the parts were there.

Frank and his wife Carolyn Tobe became the official owners of the Skyliner.

Frank said it took a lot of work to have the car restored to it's original condition.

"They had to take the car body off of the frame," he said. Work on the car was done by Jim Meyer and Nick Rosseit.


Carolyn and Frank now enjoy taking their car to area car shows. Last June they took the car to the Festival of Wheels in Bluffton. They received the "best of show" award during this event.

Last Saturday they brought their car to the Kalida Pioneer Car Show where they received a plaque for best original in the 1949-64 class.

"It takes about a minute and a half to put the top up and down," Frank said, "and you have to be sitting still."

The Skyliner had a complex mechanism which folded the front of the roof and retracted it under the rear decklid. It had three roof drive motors driving four lift jacks, four door-lock motors, ten solenoids, four locking mechanisms for the roof,and a total of 610 ft. (185.9 m) of wiring.

At the time of its introduction, the Skyliner was the only true hardtop convertible in the world. The Skyliner was produced by the Ford Motor Company in the United States for the model years 1957, 1958 and 1959.