I know, I know, it’s Monday again!
I’ve been so distraught over the deaths of Twinkie, Ding Dong, and Ho Ho this weekend, I could barely force myself to come UP with a post today.
But alas, November 19th it is, and apparently that’s not only a bad day for Hostess, it was a bad day for Edsel as well.
The Edsel died on 11/19/1959. It lasted for three years. Now, before all you car buffs correct me, there were 1960 Edsels – the death announcement came before end of the line.
Much ballyhooed and promoted, the Edsel debuted on September 4, 1957. It even had it’s own TV show, The Edsel Show, which, BTW, was the first television show ever videotaped. Prior to that they were done in kinescope. The show was performed live in the East, and the taped version was shown on the West Coast three hours later.
The car was named for Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford over the objections of the Ford family. But, alas Ford Motor Company had become a publicly traded brand in the early 1950s, had a board of directors, and Henry Ford II didn’t have the final say in the matter. He did however, have a fit about it.
The Edsel was supposed to strengthen the line UP of Ford cars. Research told Ford that the Lincoln, which was supposed to be competing with General Motors’ Cadillac was actually competing with the Oldsmobile. So, Lincoln was classed UP, moved UP, and Edsel was moved in.
It didn’t work.
The name Edsel has become a classic term for business failure. The car was supposed to fit somewhere between the Mercury and the Ford lines. It ended UP competing with them. People didn’t know if they were buying UP , buying down, or staying the same. Two of the models ended UP being more expensive than the Mercury, which was supposed to be a cut above the Edsel line.
And, to top things off, there was a recession in 1957-1958. Times were tough, Congress was doing nothing about it, IKE was playing golf, we were inching into Viet Nam, people were holding on to their dollars.
It was a dud.
Which is a shame.
It’s a classic design. Some of the models are beautiful.
And, to top it off, the line was too full.
The final blow came when the sales number came in. It just wasn’t moving, and it had to go.
There are theories galore as to it’s demise. Some say the audience moved, people just didn’t want another big car. Ford’s marketing took a great deal of blame, the hoopla was mis-targeted, and didn’t pay off.Some blame the economy, which is always an easy target. Some even blame the front end design. The horse collar grill, or toilet seat grill was just too out there for many. Some even thought it was vulgar…hmmm.
Nevertheless, the line failed. Or did it? The line only lasted three years, but it took Chevrolet more than twice that time to sell as many Vettes as it did Ford to sell Edsels. It was considered a failure because it didn’t meet sales expectations. The $400,000,000 spent on R and D was never recouped. Hence, failure.
That failure was bad for Ford. That was good for car collectors. 110,847 Edsels rolled off the assembly lines his Daddy created. Fewer than 10, 000 survive today.
Most of the survivors fall into two states, pristine or pathetic.
The pathetic will bring about what it did in 1957, 58, and 59. The pristine could net you $100,000.
Go check the garage, maybe it won’t be a bad Monday after all.