Tag Archives: Edsel

The Edsel that Ford never built

Cars potting an unusual car

My neck is on a constant swivel when I’m out on the county roads here in Wisconsin. It drives my wife and daughter nuts because sometimes I ignore the road. We were up in Door County which is about two and a half hours north of Milwaukee. Since water surrounds it on three sides, it is a popular vacation spot and destination for visitors who have more a more than average amount of disposable income. Read extra cash to buy cars they really don’t need but look cool.

Photo: Mediabrew Communications

Related Video: The cars of Door County

Carspotting: A rare Edsel

Early Edsel magazine ad: The Henry Ford Museum

I remember as a kid my dad taking me down to see the Edsel even though I was probably only four or five years old at the time. I remember sitting on his lap and pushing every one of the buttons on the steering wheel that selected a different transmission. As a kid, I thought they were cool, but as we all know they were not. If you’re not familiar with this story, I’ll give you the short version. Launched by Ford in 1958 and lasted just two years before it was given a painless death. Ford spent gobs of money marketing a vehicle that consumers saw as ugly and not built well. To this day, however, I still think they look cool especially now when it is getting difficult to distinguish vehicles on the road.

A rare Edsel

That’s what first drew me to this car sitting at what looked like a small auto repair shop but then as I looked closer, I saw it was different. This was the pickup version. Now I know Edsel had a seven-model product line, including four sedans and three station wagons. The sign inside the car said that there were only 100 made. Well after further research, he might have been correct but Edsel never made them. So this is a mashup of a Ford Ranchero, which was produced, and an Edsel.

Push-button transmission selector on steering wheel

So this was created by some enthusiast in his garage by taking the front clip off the Edsel and mating it to a Ranchero. They have also been made using a Villager wagon. This one was in pretty good shape from what I could see but hadn’t been on the road in a while.

Chrome was good

How rare? A quick search found them, not many but some. What are they worth? Edsel introduced a seven-model product line, including four sedans and three station wagons. I did a quick spin on Hemmings and found ten of them up for sale ranging from $10,950 for 1959 Corsair up to $99,500 for a 1960 Ranger that was essentially a rebadged Ford. There were several in the mid-’20s. I found this Ranchero that had quite a bit of custom work done on it for $16,990. I guess like any other rare car, it’s how bad do you want it.

Photo: American Dream Cars

1963 Mercury Comet Convertible: The Falcon’s step-sister

Talk about a car that was handicapped right out of the gate.

1963 Mercury Comet Convertible
1963 Mercury Comet Convertible (Photo credit: Sicnag)

That’s pretty much the story of the Mercury Comet. Why did I pick this car? Well, for two reasons, my uncle had one and I’m partial to orphan brands hence my affection for American Motors. OK, so now here’s the first handicap. Ford had to purchase the name “Comet” from Comet Coach Company, a professional car manufacturer in which the term belonged to a line of funeral coaches, and the second is that it was originally planned as an Edsel model. It was reassigned to Mercury dealerships after the demise of the Edsel brand (Oops), where it was marketed as a standalone product for 1960 and 1961 as the Comet. And lastly, it was developed concurrently with the Ford Falcon, well duh, so which car do you think is going to get more attention? You guessed Ford Falcon, right? Just checking. Continue reading 1963 Mercury Comet Convertible: The Falcon’s step-sister

Promo model: The Edsel

The aim was right, well sort of

Edsel Convertible
Edsel Convertible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ford invested $400,000,000 in its development and those were mid-5o’s numbers. Can you imagine what that would have taken in today’s dollars? Yikes. It would be enough to bankrupt a car maker. The Edsel is most famous for being a marketing disaster and the name “Edsel” became synonymous with commercial failure, and similar ill-fated products. Since the Edsel program was such a debacle, it gave marketers a vivid illustration of how not to market a product.

The public also had difficulty understanding what the Edsel was, primarily because Ford made the mistake of pricing the Edsel within another of its car lines, Mercury and its market price segment. Theoretically, the Edsel was conceived to fit into Ford’s marketing plans as the brand slotted in between Ford and Mercury. However there became issues when it was priced to close to the best-trimmed Ford sedan and $63 less than Mercury’s base model. In its mid-range pricing, Edsel’s Pacer and Corsair models were more expensive than their Mercury counterparts. Edsel’s top-of-the-line Citation four-door hardtop model was the only model priced to correctly compete with Mercury’s mid-range Montclair Turnpike Cruiser model. The Edsel was produced from 1957 to 1959 although some models were manufactured that borrowed heavily on other Fords and most notably the horse collar grill.

Edsel Ranger
Edsel Ranger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Edsel did however offer several innovative features, among which were its “rolling dome” speedometer, warning lights for such conditions as low oil level, parking brake engaged, and engine overheating, as well as its Push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel. Other unique features included ergonomically designed controls for the driver and self-adjusting brakes, offered such advanced safety features as seat belts (which were available at extra cost as optional equipment on many other makes) and child-proof rear door locks that could only be opened with the key. I remember my dad taking me down to the dealership when I was a kid and vividly remember the push button transmission shift.

Even though the car bombed, more than a half a century after its spectacular failure, the car has become a highly collectible item among vintage car hobbyists. Fewer than 10,000 Edsels survive and are considered valuable collectors’ items. A mint 1958 Citation convertible or 1960 Ranger convertible may sell for over $100,000.

Plastic scale models of all three Edsel years were produced by AMT, in its usual 1/25 scale. Both promotional and kit versions were sold.  The promo models are also considered valuable collector cars and they command premium prices today, especially the rare 1959 and 1960 models. Because of the way the models were molded, there can be some warping, especially on the earlier models. These images are from Wheat’s Nostalgia and were priced anywhere from $80 to close to $200. Not a lot of money for holding a piece of automotive history in your hand.

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59 EDSEL CORSAIR HT,

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58 EDSEL PACER HT

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58 EDSEL PACER CONV

60 EDSEL RANGER CONV, 58 EDSEL PACER CONV, edsel promo model, automotive marketing disasters, ford motor company, edsel
60 EDSEL RANGER CONV.