Eugene Bernshtam: The Legacy of the Ford Crown Victoria Skyliner

Real estate investor Gene Bernshtam is a collector of classic and vintage cars, many of which have won awards in auto shows around the country. While he has a 1970 Bentley T1, he mostly collects American-made cars, including a Dodge Polara and a Chrysler Cordoba. Eugene Bernshtam is also on the lookout for rare, limited-production models, including those that did not last in the market for long. The Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria Skyliner is one of them.

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For every iconic car that was produced during the Golden Age of American Cars, there is also one or two models that did not sell very well. Their failures could be attributed to poor performance, cost, or aesthetics; some, though, were just way ahead of their time. Gene Bernshtam considers the Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria Skyliner as one of these spectacular failures that could have succeeded had it been introduced later.

Building on the design of its predecessor, the Crown Victoria Skyliner featured a smoked glass window over the front seat, which gave drivers and front seat passengers a panoramic view of their surroundings. The “Glasstop Vicky”, as it was called by car lovers, quickly became popular. However, Eugene Bernshtam believes that the extra sun that the roof let inside the cabin meant that the interior would heat up quickly. While a snap-on sunshade was available, buyers soon shied away from the model. Thus, the model was phased out after only two years in the market.

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The Crown Victoria Skyliner, Gene Bernshtam says, would have had better success had it been introduced after built-in air conditioning became the industry standard. The concept of a fixed window over the front seat later became the inspiration for later designs, such as the 1979 Lincoln Continental, the 1991 Oldsmobile Buick Roadmaster, and the 2004 Opel Astra. Because only few units remain, the Crown Victoria Skyliner is now considered a collector’s item.