It's striking to think of how far droptops have come in the past fifty years, only to circle around on themselves. There's virtually nothing, for example, as complex today as Ford's hardtop Skyliner convertible. This 1957-1959 model was a technical wonder -- even though it was prone to malfunction. It wasn't as reliable as today's hardtop convertibles, like that on the Pontiac G6 Convertible. But it did the same thing -- it converted an otherwise pedestrian car into something special.
The Skyliner's top took up a huge amount of room, but buyers didn't seem to care. In 1957, the introductory year, Ford sold 20,766 Skyliners, split between a 190-horsepower and a 245-horsepower version. Sales dipped over the next two years, and while the Skyliner didn't survive, Ford plugged on with full-size convertibles for years. Today, a well-restored version is hard to find for under $40,000. (Some like this Skyliner are available on eBay in well-restored condition in the mid-$40,000s.)
Flash-forward to today, and something as simple and appealing as a Saturn Sky comes from the same company as that convertible Pontiac G6. Mazda's Miata remains an evergreen gem -- along with Ford's Mustang convertible. At the top of the convertible ranks, I'm set on the Jaguar XKR and the Mercedes-Benz SL, even with its new, controversial nose -- and with a hardtop convertible mechanism that's quicker and slicker, but not really much different in concept from that of the Skyliner.
I'll reminisce a little while longer before I decide whether a convertible needs to replace my long-gone Miata. Maybe you can help: take a look at our latest sportscar and convertible reviews, then tell me which convertible's been your favorite throughout history - classic or modern, either way. And while you're thinking, check out this video of Ford's Skyliner going through the motions: