Tag Archives: Crosby

E Day – Ford Edsel

With a surplus cash from the success of the Ford Thunderbird Ford executives decided to create a new intermediate line of vehicles to compete with Oldsmobile which included a network of over 1,000 dealers through which the new brand was to be distributed. Fifty five years ago today amidst much fan fare Ford launched it’s new baby to an unsuspecting American public with much fan fare which included labeling September 4th 1957 “E Day”.

Edsel Ranger, Goodwood Revival

Fifty years after the event Time said of the Edsel “Ford’s marketing mavens had led the public to expect some plutonium-powered, pancake-making wondercar; what they got was a Mercury.” More unkindly some described the Edsel as looking like an Olds sucking a lemon.

Edsel Ranger, Goodwood Revival

To get sales of the vehicle “unlike any other car you have ever seen” underway Ford on October 13th organised a television special live from Television City in Hollywood “The Edsel Show” which combined the talents of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Rosemary Clooney to “pump” it’s target market. Highlights included Frank Sinatra smoking a cigarette standing next to Louis Armstrong while performing a “number”.

Edsel Ranger, Goodwood Revival

For 1958 model year the Edsel was available in four flavours Citation and Corsair based on a Mercury platform, with the smaller Pacer and Ranger based on a Ford 118 inch platform. Today’s featured base model Ranger is powered by a 5.9 litre / 361 cui 303hp FE V8 which could be ordered with Teletouch automatic transmission operated by button’s on the hub of the steering wheel.

Edsel Ranger, Goodwood Revival

Ford needed to sell 200,000 Edsels to break even on it’s $400,000,000 dollar investment in the new range, despite the second largest brand launch, exceeded only by Plymouth in 1928, to date with over 60,000 sales in the 1958 model year it quickly became apparent that the Edsel concept was struggling to fly.

Edsel Ranger, Goodwood Revival

In November 1959 with just over 120,000 models built Ford pulled the plug on the Edsel. Among the many reasons for it’s failure was a pricing policy that did not clearly fill a gap between the Ford, Mercury and Lincoln Brands, in particular the most expensive Fords being too closely priced to the cheapest Edsels. It is estimated Ford lost of the order of $350,000,000 dollars on the project.

Thanks for joining me on this “E Day” edition of Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres, Tuesdays regular MG blog will appear on Thursday, I hope you will join me again for a continental curiosity tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


A day at Thompson CT – Austin Healey 100-Six

On the 20th of July 1958 Norris Crosby Chief Engineer at Orangeburg Plastics loaded up the trunk of his Austin Healey 100-Six and headed for the ‘Old’ Thompson Raceway in the North East corner of Connecticut, on the way he picked up Ed Arnaudin who took these wonderful photographs kindly provided by his son Steve for us to enjoy.

The Austin Healey 100 was designed as a private enterprise by Donald Healey to run on the historically disastrous Austin A90 Atlantic running gear including a 2660 cc /162 cui motor with a three speed gearbox fitted with overdrive on 2nd and 3rd gear the 100 name was chosen because the vehicle was capable of over 100 mph.

When Austin MD Leonard Lord saw the Healey Hundred prototype a deal was struck for the bodywork to be manufactured by Jenson and then shipped to Longbridge where assembly was completed alongside the Austin A90 Atlantic.

The #65 seen here is listed twice as being the 4 cylinder ‘100’ model however the horizontal crinkled grill bars and air scoop tell us that this vehicle is actually a BN6 ‘100 – Six’ manufactured between 1956 and 1959, fitted with a 117 hp 2639 cc / 161 cui in line 6 cylinder BMC C Series motor from the Austin Westminster and a four speed gearbox, overdrive if fitted was optional.

The car on the outside row of the grid from the #65 and the #114 are both earlier 4 cylinder ‘100’ models with distinctive vertical radiator grill bars and no air scoops .

Norris blew his exhaust muffler during the race and came in 5th overall 3rd in Class D in Race 5 behind the race winning smaller Class E AC Bristol of E Hamburger.

(Note results corrected 03/04/11)

In this shot Norris leads F Twaits in his rare Fraser Nash 100/163 down the yet to be finished Thompson CT pit road.

Ed Arnaudin describes riding in the car with Norris on the way home on a dark, cold evening as being “loud as hell” thanks to the muffler blown during the race.

A lovely fuss free way to go racing no trailers just get in your race car pick up your buddy on the way, race and go home.

With thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for taking and providing these photographs, additional material from Northeast American Sports Car Races 1950-1959 * by Terry O’Neil.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s edition from the race in 1958, looking forward what tomorrow brings, don’t forget to come back now !

* Please note :- I do not in anyway endorse, or have any commercial interest in the products or distributors highlighted in today’s feature, I am merely passing information on as an enthusiast of all things motoring, I have no experience of handling these products nor have I used these vendors. I recommend anyone interested in these items or distributors do their own thorough investigation into suitability, reliability and particularly prices of both products and vendors before making any purchasing decisions.