Case in point: the 1957 Ford Skyliner Retractable Hardtop Convertible, the first of its kind. Gerrard pushes a button. The car’s roof folds up and off the top of the car. The rear window slides down, tucking itself away behind the back seat, while a panel of the trunk opens wide to swallow the roof.
“Can you imagine how much work that would be to design in 1957? No computers, no nothing. Someone told me it’s like 26 different motors and 40-something relays to make this thing work.”
With the roof back on top of the car, Gerrard pops the trunk panel and points to a steel outline in the center of the compartment. The empty square was designed as the spot where luggage would be safe from the invading roof. In 1959, he adds, Ford offered an optional factory luggage set, provided in a color that matches the car.
“My ‘59 has it,” he says. “Three pieces.” He adds that he knows of only two and a half sets of the luggage remaining in the world. “And the guy who has the half set, it’s because his wife sold one of the pieces at a garage sale for five bucks.” One gets the impression that the one-of-a-kind luggage is worth considerably more than five bucks.
With some prodding, Gerrard agrees to roll out the ‘59. After all, there’s buried treasure in the trunk.
The car hasn’t been started in months, but the interior light comes on when the door opens.
“That’s a good sign,” Gerrard says.
The car starts. Gerrard pushes the button and holds it as the roof lifts off and the trunk opens.
And there’s the luggage. Three modular pieces: a big, flat-sided suitcase on the bottom and two smaller ones on top. They fit together, shaped precisely for the spot. Their blue matches the car.
Gerrard picks up one of the suitcases, opens it, and reads a tiny label: “Ford Spacesaver luggage for Ford Skyliner.”
Original, of course. “Pretty neat,” is all he says.
~ Bozeman-based freelance writer Ray Sikorski writes for Via, the High Country News, and the Christian Science Monitor. His play, Pandora’s Box, was recently performed as part of the Equinox Theatre’s One-Act Festival.