My question is prompted by the fact that a guy down the street has two of them! Both are in fair-to-poor condition (surface rust, interiors dirty and worn). As with all such cars, restoration would cost a lot-and I have no idea if the cental sterring-console mounted push-button ATs are even repairable today! Is there enough commonality of parts (with FORD contemporary cars), to make parts easy to find? Finally-the things are so damn ugly! I can understand why they were such a sales disaster for FORD. Is there a market for EDSELs, or is it just another automotive criosity?
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I've seen several Edsels converted to a floor shifter.
Well, I don't know for a fact that the mechanical push-buttons were more reliable...all I know is that the ones on my '57 DeSoto never gave me any problems! Did the Edsel have a button for "Park"? On the Mopars, for the first few years at least, there was no "P". You just put it in neutral and put on the parking brake.
I don't personally think their rarity is an asset. If anything, the car is still a symbol of ridicule more than respect, so if you show up in one, it's going to be as the class clown, not the hero of the football team.
I like the 58 Edsels - but it's strictly because of the flop issue. The fact that Edsel is really another word for failure. People that don't know a Chevy from a Ford know about Edsels.
That said, the Aztek (sorry that always comes up in such discussions, but not talking about it is like pretending not to notice an elephant in the room) is almost making Edsel talk irrelevant. It's one thing to say as recently as 1958 that someone as big as Ford could lay such an egg. To have it currently going on at GM is a riot. I even like that they basically did what Ford did for 1959 - they toned down the ugliness without actually eliminating it. May as well get a push button tranny on the steering wheel hub....
Unfortunately, the Edsel was launched in September 1957, just as the country was on the brink of recession. Ford's original plan was to build 100,000 Edsels for 1958, but they came up short with only about 63,000 built. But to be fair, the whole mid-priced field got whacked that year. Pontiac, Olds, Buick, Mercury, Dodge, DeSoto, and Chrysler all got hit hard.
Suddenly, the horsepower race seemed foolish and small cars like the Rambler were soaring in popularity. Edsel showed up to play with a 303 hp 361 in the lower 2 series, and a 345 hp 410 V-8 in the two upper series, hardly an economic choice either way. These things were heavy, bulky cars too, usually weighing more than the Dodges, Pontiacs, DeSotos, and even some Chryslers that they were supposed to compete against.
Then there were the quality issues. I've heard that the Edsel didn't have its own dedicated assembly line, but the cheaper models were built on sped-up Ford assembly lines, while the pricier models were built on sped-up Mercury lines. So they were probably rushed through quicker than lots of other late 50's cars.
As for ugliness, I think that just like the Aztek, they could've really cleaned up the car's look with just a minor trim jiggle. For instance, I notice that if I look at a photo of an Edsel and put my finger over the center part of the grille, the rest of the car really doesn't look that bad!
For 1959-60, the Edsel was consolidated to a single 120" wheelbase, and model lineups were slashed considerably. The '59 was a much more sensible car, running mainly on 292 V-8's, with the 361 still as an option and even an inline 6. It was still ugly, but just not flamboyantly so. The '60 was basically just a Ford with some '59 Pontiac styling cues thrown in.
One thing I think is interesting about the Edsel though, is that once it cleared out, Mercury moved down to that same 120" wheelbase, and moved considerably downscale in price. For '59-60, Mercurys, even the cheaper models were on mammoth 126-128" wheelbases. I guess it could be argued that the Edsel really didn't die, that it became Mercury! It was the "traditional", overblown Mercurys that actually died. In fact, one Mercury model was originally slated to be an Edsel, although I don't know if it was the Comet or the Meteor.
Chrysler pulled a similar stunt in 1960, drastically reducing the DeSoto lineup while readying Chrysler to go into that market. For '61, Chrysler actually undercut DeSoto in price, a move intended to wean people off of DeSotos and into Chrysler Newports. When the non-letter 300 series came out, it was priced about where the DeSoto Firedome would've been. And even the New Yorker came down somewhat in price, to not much more than what a Fireflite would've run. Just like Edsel, the car was still basically there, just not the name.
Somehow, GM was able to escape all this in-fighting back then...it really didn't catch up to them until the mid-70's. I wonder if the Edsel had premiered a few years earlier, if it would've lasted longer.
I think the thing with Edsel was that Ford already had a 'medium-priced' vehicle in those days (Mercury), and there was not much to distinguish the higher end Edsels from Mercs, and nothing to distinguish the lower end Edsels from Fords, other than UGLINESS. Nothing like having only one car to market in a new dealer network and having it ugly.
Edsel didn't have a monopoly on ugliness in those days. Just look at Buick, Olds, Rambler, in fact pretty much every '58. Exner's 1960 redesign was seriously weird.
Aside from being the answer to a question no one asked, I'm not sure why the Edsel is synonymous with loser and the '58 Buick isn't. Maybe it's because Edsel is an orphan and Buick isn't--yet. Maybe it's the name. Maybe it's the shape of the grille and the way it resembles...well, never mind.
In terms of Azteks, on a percentage basis of what sold vs what they expected to sell that the Aztek is every bit the failure that Edsel was. Fortunately Pontiac dealers have something else to sell. Not that I, personally, would buy any of what a Pontiac dealer has to sell at the moment but at least it's there.
The change in Edsels from MY 58 to 59 looks an awful lot like the Aztek from 01 to 02 - a toning down of the current design. There's no doubt that the second year is - I was going to say more attractive - less ugly. That said, if I was going to pick up an Edsel, I'd want a 58.
1958 was a terrible year in car design. It's what killed the 50's. There are some nice Chrysler exceptions but I'd be hard pressed to think of another manufacturer who had decent looking 58's.
Then again wasn't it Cindy Williams driving around in the Edsel in AMerican Grafitti?
The point of the Aztek actually offering a new idea of some sort while the Edsel offered nothing at all new is very well taken. The 58s were either a bad looking Ford or a bad looking Mercury while the 59s and 60s were just not quite as bad looking Ford.
"Oh, I don't know. DeSoto...Studebaker...Edsel. Can't go wrong with one of those!"
My dad had said the Edsel was the most market researched car ever up to that time. His comment was Ford pretty much tried to appease everyone but in the process turned every one off........Or it could have been the grill!!!!!
Americian Grafitti was written my my best friend's cousin and his wife. Williard Huych (sp) and Gloria Katz.
The Edsel that was used in that movie sat in a driveway in my home town in California with a For Sale sign on it for probably three months before the studio bought it for the movie.
This would have been around 1972. I remember the guy wanted 200.00 for it. I even stopped once and looked at it.
Dang machine! Never works right!
Didn't some Chryslers have them in 56?
I always thought they should put them in PT Cruisers. I mean if you get a manual Cruiser it has the neat cue ball shifter but if you get an automatic it has a generic Chrysler shifter. Clearly they need pushbuttons!
Corvairs did the same thing.
I know on the Mopar pushbuttons, at least the Torqueflite for 1957, if you pressed reverse at any forward speed over 10 mph, it would just go into neutral. And if you pressed "1" or "2" at too high of a speed, it wouldn't downshift until it was safe. I forget the actual speed thresholds, though. I'm not sure, but I think if you start off with "2" selected instead of "D", once it gets to a certain speed it'll upshift anyway. At least, from reading the service manual I got for Christmas, that was the jist I got.
I was just wondering if Mercury and Edsel had any safeguards like that built in for their pushbuttons. I guess it's harder to accidentally put a column shifter into the wrong gear, but I could see how easy it would be pressing the wrong button on a dashboard!
That was about 80,000 miles ago, so I guess no permanent damage was done! Not that I'm going to try it, but I wonder what the highest speed is that you could "park" a car without destroying the tranny. Oh, and since then, I've replaced the turn signal stalk with a normal one, so hopefully I won't get a repeat performance!
In '58 the Ranger's only engine choice was the 361/303. The more expensive Citation and Corsair had the 410, a version of the Lincoln 430, with 345 hp.