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”.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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 !