Where did the name come from? It sounds a bit like Customline, Mainline, Crestline and Sunliner. Indeed, the Fairlane has nothing to do with those. Written as 'Fair Lane', it's the name of a place in Ireland, something like the origin of Henry Ford's forefathers. Apart from that, the name was also given to his home in Dearborn, where he lived for most of his life with his wife Clara. The name was used until 1969 and not only for convertibles with folding roofs.
These cars of course, do have a certain tradition, in 1934, Peugeot already had a convertible like this, which was called the Eclipse. To bring this complex convertible onto the market after five years of development, was unusual for America. In the end, Henry Ford was so furious, that he wanted to destroy his life's work. It was only Clara's intervention that stopped him from doing so.
Henry Ford died in 1947, his son Edsel in 1943. Thus, Edsel's son now had the difficult task of leading the concern back to being the number one as far as global production was concerned, a position, which in the past they had held for a long time. They did in fact, nearly overtake Chevrolet, their strongest competition, indeed, only nearly. The Skyliner was to be the cream on the cake, the last piece of glamour, which was considered necessary for such an undertaking.
This is what the 'normal' Ford Fairlane looked like. By the way, the '500' in the name did not mean a certain engine, it meant the top model in the range. It included, e.g., a great deal of chrome- and even gold-fittings of on the sides. The way the car was marketed is also interesting. In the commercial below, Mrs. Lucille Ball, explains how the roof functions to her husband, Dezi Arnaz. They were of course, both actors from a popular TV-series.
Check it with a stopwatch yourself, it takes approx 40 seconds, before the procedure is completed. This of course, drew a lot of attention, even in the America of the 1950s. This bit of fun however, was not possible when the car was moving because it could only be done when the engine was switched off. This also carried the price of the V8 over the 3.000 dollar mark, almost 600 dollars more than the most reasonable Fairlane. You've probably already guessed, that in the three years up to 1959, only just under 50.000 cars were sold. In the year of 1957 however, after a long time and unfortunately, only this once, did they achieve their target of being top of the class. 02/15