In June 12 IssueRussell County NewsBy Ron Cowell, Columnist
With the Car show season in full swing, this year I been keeping an eye out for cars and trucks that are unusual and you don’t see to often anymore. The other day I ran across an Edsel. I can remember when they first came out. My Uncle was one of the first to go out and buy one. They were discontinued because they were believed to be a failure. Were they? or was the Edsel just a car ahead of it’s time.
The first look at an Edsel appeared in the July 1957 edition of Life Magazine. It was a full two page ad. The Edsel was all covered in paper and the image was distorted so you could not see just what it really looked like.
All this was done in a big publicity campaign to build interest in what the new car looked like. I can remember everyone back then trying to get a peak at Ford’s newest car. A slogan came out with the release of the car also. “More new ideas, More you ideas.”
Back then it was a big deal when the new models came out. TV ads and radio spots would be aired months before the new cars came out.
The only way you saw the car back then was go to the dealer and see it. We would take a Saturday and drive around to the dealerships with Dad just to get a peek at the new releases.
Unlike the cars of today every car then was different and you could tell from a block away what kind it was and what model. They didn’t all look alike.
The Edsel was even kept more of a secret. When shipped out to the dealers they were shipped just like the Ad in Life Magazine. They were wrapped in paper so you could not see them. The day Edsel was released to the public for viewing it was estimated that 2.5 million people showed up at the dealership to catch a peek at the Edsel.
The name Edsel was chosen from over 6000 different names that were suggested for the car.
Names like Utopian Turtletop, The Mongoose Civique and the Pastelogram were considered as a name for the car before Earnest R. Breech helped to convince Henry Ford to name the car the Edsel.
The Edsel was labeled as a failure or lemon car as time went on but this was unfair to the car. At the time the car may have been a huge marketing failure but now people see that it was not an engineering failure.
The Edsel sported a 303 and a 345 horsepower V8 engine but the top speed of the car was kept a secret because at that time some state law makers were considering establishing legal limits on a cars horsepower.
Some of the new changes that were featured on the new Edsel were the steering wheel mounted “Teletouch Drive” push button transmission, a Cyclops eye rotating speedometer head, remote door locks, self adjusting brakes and with the exception of the rear view mirror the whole car was power, windows and all. Look at the cars of today and they are much like the Edsel of back then that makes people say the Edsel was not a failure but just ahead of it’s time. On November 19th, 1959 Ford announced the end of the Edsel program.
The Edsel was produced for three years, 1958, 59 and 60. The last car was produced in November of 1959.
The car was labeled as such a failure that that Ford Motor company offered with the 1960 Edsel a $300.00 discount coupon for the future purchase of any domestically produced Ford Car. There were no expiration dates on these coupons.
Close to 150 of them were never used. Now over 50 years later that same car is a highly collectible car, commanding huge prices at auctions. If you can find an Edsel convertible they are really a rare find.
Ford Motor Company invested $240,000,000.00 in the development of the Edsel. There were less than 500 Convertibles produced between 1958 and 1960 and there were roughly 15,000 Edsels sold the first month.
Some of the popular Edsel Models and Body styles were: The Ranger, Pacer, Corsair, Villager, Bermuda and the Round Up. They produced a 2 door sedan, 4 door sedan, hard top sedan, a hardtop coupe, a station wagon and the convertible.
The next time you go to a car show or cruise in look for the Edsel. I’ll bet you have a hard time finding one.