1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Convertible / Photos, Specs, Model History

Featured here is a fine looking fully restored 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Convertible. This was a first generation Fairlane which replaced the Crestline models in 1955.

Ford Motor Company used the Sunliner name on several of it’s full size automobiles through the 1950’s and 60’s. The Ford Sunliner had a very successful eleven year production run.

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1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Convertible

The name “Sunliner: first appeared on the 1952 Ford Cresline. It would be a few years later when the Sunliner was a part of the new 1955 Fairlane lineup that the model gained real popularity. The Fairlane came out in 1955 and was a direct competitor of the Chevys which garnered plenty of attention. The Fairlane was named after Henry Ford’s Fairlane mansion in Dearborn Michigan. The Fairlane took the top of the line spot in Ford’s 1955 offerings.

The Fairlane began in 1955 as a full size vehicle but was built as a mid sized model starting in 1962.

It was with the new successful Fairlane that the Sunliner gained added recognition with terrific styling.

1956 Ford Sunliner Styling

The full size 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner retained the same body shell as the 55 model but with some changes to the grille and parking lights along with more decorative trim.

The 1956 Sunliner sported clean body lines and the rear quarter panels flowed into a small tail fin. The long stainless steel trim that ran along the side of the body added plenty of flair to the styling. The V on the side trim was a bit deeper with the 1956 model. The car looked great and when the convertible top was lowered the styling looked even better.

Two additional items to note for the 1956 model year was Ford’s Lifeguard Design and it’s switching to a 12 volt electrical system. The Lifeguard Design was a safety package that included a recessed steering wheel, padded dashboard and sun visors, and seat belts. Ford advertisements highlighted these safety features although it’s unclear what effect if any this had on sales. Some would say it actually hurt sales but there is no evidence to back that up. It’s  more likely that the Lifeguard Design offering didn’t have the positive results Ford was expecting.

As it turned out, Ford was making good progress with their Fairlane and this led to Ford overtaking Chevrolet in 1957 for the first time in 22 years.

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Ford’s Sunliner and Skyliner

In addition to the Sunliner, Ford Motor Company offered the Skyliner model beginning in 1954. That year the Skyliner was introduced on Ford’s top of the line Crestline model. The Skyliner in 1954 had a glass roof section on top of the front row seats. At the same time Ford was producing the Crestline Sunliner as a soft top convertible. Many will remember the Skyliner when it was a part of the Fairlane series with it’s fully retractable hard top. Those models were produced for three years starting in 1957.

The 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Specifications

The 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner was offered with a 223 cubic inch Mileage Maker Six along with several 292 cubic inch Thunderbird V-8 configurations and one 312 configuration.  The Mileage Maker Six delivered 137 HP. The Thunderbird V-8’s put out horsepower rated at 200 to 225. The 225 HP version came from a 312 cubic inch Thunderbird Special V-8 with a four barrel carburetor. Along with the Fairlane Sunliner’s outstanding styling, the car packed plenty of power.

Transmissions included a three speed column mounted manual and a three speed automatic.

Brakes are power assisted front disc and rear drums. 

Front suspension is an independent coil spring arrangement with a sway bar. Rear is live axle with a semi-elliptic leaf spring. 

Dimensions include a 115.5 inch wheelbase, 198.5 inch overall length, 75.9 inch width, 61.0 inch height. Curb weight 2,765 lbs.

The Ford Motor Company 1956 production totaled 1,410,000 vehicles. The Fairlane model production was 642,600. Total 1956 Fairlane Sunliner Convertible production was 58,147 units.

Related Auto Museum Online articles are on the links below…

1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria

1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner

Reference material includes….American Cars of the 1950’s : by the Editors of Consumer Guide…Fords of the Fifties by Michael Parris…Ford Fairlans, 1955-70 by Brooksland Books.

The 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Collector Car

56 ford fairlane

The 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Convertible is a popular collector automobile. While many of the mid to late 1950’s Fords have gained collector interest, the 1856 Sunliner has stood out from the pack. Auction selling prices have steadily climbed and those examples in excellent to perfect condition have garnered strong valuations.

Results show a range from about $49,000 to $150,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Onlne)