Author Topic: What was bad about Edsels?  (Read 3748 times)

Offline Brinybay

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What was bad about Edsels?
« on: September 25, 2010, 03:15:08 PM »
This picture in another thread reminded me of something I always wondered about.  Is it that they just didn't sell, or were they mechanically unsound?
« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 06:31:59 AM by TelePlay »
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Offline Kenny C

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2010, 03:31:25 PM »
I love edsels. I read some where that they were great cars.
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Offline HarrySmith

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2010, 03:51:19 PM »
Yes, Edsels were great cars! I worked on a couple when I was young. It was politics within Ford that killed it!
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Offline jsowers

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2010, 04:11:53 PM »
It was also bad timing. When it was designed, cars in the mid-priced class were selling well. But in 1958 when it came out, a recession hit and almost all car manufacturers experienced a slump in sales. It also didn't help that the grille was compared to a horse collar or worse.

Personally, I love Edsels. Look at the opening scene of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and you'll see Don Knotts whipping his Edsel around (as he called it). One of my favorite movies, and the car's orphan reputation was used well as the kind of car someone like Don's character would still be driving in 1966. You can briefly see him fumbling when pushing the buttons on the Tele-Touch drive, housed in the steering wheel hub, switching from forward to reverse. I think Don as Barney also drove an Edsel in some of the later color Andy Griffiths when he returned.

I remember an interview with Rosemary Clooney, who said all the stars of The Edsel Show in 1957, when the car was introduced, got their own Edsels to drive. She got a pink one and she said the door handle came off in her hand. She wasn't too impressed. I think the intro to The Edsel Show and some great Edsel commercials are on YouTube if you search for them.

The only Edsel I remember from childhood was an aqua green 1959 Ranger sedan driven by the lifeguard at the local pool. It was his dad's and we all made fun of it. But it ran very well. There were not many of them around here when I was a kid.
Jonathan

Offline HarrySmith

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2010, 04:21:05 PM »
The Edsel is another of my favorite cars, I watch for 1958 Edsels every day. I really like the floating speedometer and the tele-touch pushbutton transmission. The 2 door station wagon would be tops on my list.
Apparently there is much speculation about the demise of the Edsel. Here is what I remebered reading about:
Company Politics and the Role of Robert McNamara
The most intriguing aspect of the Edsel story may be that it provides a case study in how company politics can kill a good idea. While the car and Ford’s planning of the car are the most often cited reasons for its failure, internal Ford Motor Company memos indicate that the Edsel may actually have been a victim of dissension within Ford's management ranks.

Following World War II, Henry Ford II retained Robert McNamara as one of the "whiz kids" to help turn Ford around. McNamara’s cost cutting and cost containment skills helped Ford emerge from its near collapse after the war. As a result, McNamara eventually amassed a considerable amount of power at Ford. McNamara was very much a throwback to Henry Ford in that, like the elder Ford, McNamara was committed to Ford to the almost total exclusion of the company's other products. Thus, McNamara had little use for the Continental, Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel brand cars made by the company.

McNamara opposed the formation of the separate divisions for Continental, Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel cars, and moved to consolidate Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel into the M-E-L division. McNamara saw to it that the Continental program was canceled and that the model was merged into the Lincoln range for 1958. He next set his sights on Edsel by maneuvering for elimination of the dual wheelbases and separate bodies used in 1958. Instead, the Edsel would share the Ford platform and use Ford’s inner body structure for 1959. In 1960, the Edsel emerged as little more than a Ford with different trim. McNamara also moved to reduce Edsel’s advertising budget for 1959, and for 1960, he virtually eliminated it. The final blow came in the fall of 1959, when McNamara convinced Henry Ford II and the rest of Ford's management structure that the Edsel was doomed and that it was time to end production before the Edsel bled the company dry. McNamara also attempted to discontinue the Lincoln nameplate, but that effort ended with Elwood Engel's now classic redesign of 1961. McNamara left Ford when he was named Secretary of Defense by President John F. Kennedy.

During the 1964 presidential election, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater blamed McNamara, then Secretary of Defense, for the Edsel's failure. Eventually, Ford's former executive vice president (and financial contributor to Goldwater's campaign) Ernest R. Breech wrote the Senator's campaign, explaining that "Mr. McNamara… had nothing to do with the plans for the Edsel car or any part of the program." However, the charge continued to be leveled against McNamara for years. During his time as head of the World Bank, he instructed his public affairs officer to distribute copies of Breech's letter to the press whenever the accusation was made.[7]
Harry Smith
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Offline Kenny C

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2010, 04:22:58 PM »
i want a 1959 sedan Ranger
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  Marie B.
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Offline KeithB

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2010, 05:48:44 PM »
I remember seeing several Edsels on the road during the 60s and early 70s.  What always struck me about the front styling of the car was how much it resembled the 1958 and 1959 Oldsmobiles.  I guess it was just a styling trend that that didn't work out for either of the car makers. 

Offline bingster

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2010, 07:19:38 PM »
I'm not sure the style of the front end was such a problem.  We tend to look askance at it now, but in the 1950s, a lot of people lamented the loss of the upright grille.  Packard got so many requests for an upright grille throughout the 1950s, that it produced a show car in 1955 called the "Request." It was the hit of the car show circuit, and won several awards.  Based on that feedback, the designs for the never-to-be-produced big 1957 and '58 Packards featured an ultra-modern version, which had been featured on another hit show car, the 1956 Packard Predictor.

The Predictor really was a predictor of future styling.  Its opening roof panels would show up later as the GM T-top, the reverse-angle, lowerable backlight was used at Mercury, and of course the upright grille concept made it's way to Edsel.  And if you're thinking the general feel of the car is very similar to the 1958-60 Lincolns, you're not alone.  The boys at Ford were clearly smitten with Packard's mid-50s designs.
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Offline Bill Cahill

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2010, 11:47:33 AM »
That first picture of the Edsel is the spitting image of the Edsel that Don Knotts drove in "The ghost and Mr. Chicken". Great car, and, great movie!
Bill Cahill

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Offline McHeath

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2010, 06:33:45 PM »
My uncle had a 60' model.  He went and bought it new when he heard they were going to stop making them, I've heard that only a bit less than 3,000 were made in 1960.  It was pink and a Ranger trim level, he kept it in his garage for years and years and rarely drove it.  I used to play in it as a kid when we visited. 

He died in 1994 and the Edsel was sold for a ridiculous low price to clear it out.  No one seemed to want it in the family but me, but I did not tell anyone so missed out.  It was like when sold and had less than 10,000 miles on it. 

Offline andre_janew

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2016, 04:51:33 PM »
I've heard that the Edsel was designed to fill a void between the Ford and Mercury models.  Some say the Edsel failed because this void didn't really exist.  That's the theory I've always heard.

Ford came out with its big block V-8 engine in 1958.  The letters FE were cast on the block because it was to be used in Ford and Edsel cars.  Long after the Edsel was discontinued, the FE was still on Ford's big block engines.

Offline flybynyte

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2016, 11:49:02 PM »
                                                    "Have I got a surprise for you!"

 I drove some new and near-new Edsels around the dealership lot I worked at during summer high-school
vacation.  Typical lot-boy duties, washing, waxing, polishing, interior-cleaning and detailing, verifying tire inflation pressures,
etc. etc. Running errands for the salesmen was also an expected requirement and part of the job description. Side benefit
of hanging around the sales staff was picking up all the latest slang, jokes,(mostly ribald, no female presence to inhibit
anyone's expletives and colorful vocabulary) had to be careful when male buyers brought wife or girlfriend along though!
In hindsight I don't think there was anything terribly wrong with the car, although like many others, I had issues with it's styling.
I heard some of the salesmen making snickering allusion to the car's central facade.  Never knew about the pony-giveaway contest though, I'm assuming that the ill-thought out promotion was never implemented in Canada......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ4S24PruN8

        Bert
« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 06:33:25 AM by TelePlay »

Offline 19and41

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Re: What was bad about Edsels?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2016, 01:40:32 PM »
I know it would put you high kid on the totem pole being the first to catch one in car spotting on long trips.From what I'm given to understand the manufacturing facilities that had been used for the mid 50's Continental were used for the Edsel.  It is doubly sad that the car was named for Henry's son who was berated, some say to an early grave by his father during his professional life for trying to bring innovation to the company.  Edsels' contribution to the company lineup?  The Mercury.
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