Driving A Laughing Stock – The Courage Of The Edsel Owner


Let me say at the outset of this blog that I am on the side of the owner of the Edsel – and of the P-76 – and of the owner of every other motor vehicle that has become the butt of jokes – jokes that can sometimes be at the expense of truth and rational thought.

You’ll have seen an Edsel on this blog a few years ago – one was exhibited at Big Al’s in 2012 with the rather unkind license plate of “LEMON”. That accords with common legend, but then again so does the idea of the unicorn or the mermaid. Or the British constitution, for that matter…perhaps it is time to consider it again.

The Edsel cars were a new venture of the Ford Motor Company in the late 1950’s – as much to put out new design as to break free from the then-current model lineup. The name commemorated the son of the original Henry Ford – you can read the family history that included the relationship between him and his father but be prepared to cry or curse as you do. Suffice it to say, the use of the name might have been a fine gesture in other times and in other circumstances.


The Edsels came out with a very great deal of fanfare, and as much advertising as a major manufacturer could produce. Much was made of their styling, and this concentrated around the oval grill placed in the center of their front end. I think that every car and mechanic magazine I read in 1958 harped on this. They touted it as a return to the grillwork of the 30’s. Other weirder publications likened it to a vagina, but I was 10 years old at the time and I never read those publications…


It was over hyped on all levels before the introduction, but proved nothing more than a restyled Ford or Mercury body in the end. A few mechanical footles, but nothing really bad or really good – just the style, the advertising, and the eventual souring and smart-assery of the press. The day of the compact had just about arrived and the day of the square sedan ( even with a vagina and a Madison-avenue campaign ) was just about over…


So – here’s the Edsel Ranger at Big Al’s 2015. It has enough style to attract/repel anyone. I find myself admiring the reverse-flip of the side sculpture as it goes from concave along most of the car then pops out into a convex form in time to frame the tail-light. These tail lights hold no more horror for me than those of a ’62 Chevy and the belt line trim is very reminiscent of the Studebaker Larks of the time. I know Ford was wedded to round tail lights for a long time, but I would have popped for long teardrops on that chrome base.



I shall leave the roof pillar line to devotees of 50’s Ford to praise – it seems awkward to me. Likewise the detail of the front bezels seems to have one more wrinkle than necessary – but that is just me being fussy. The basic nose design is almost a BMW of the 60’s…almost.


I think the choice of the hubcaps and beauty ring on this Ranger is quite attractive, but viewers would be advised to Google up original pictures to see what they rolled out of the factory with.


I am delighted to see this car – and I should wish the owner well with it, despite history. Ownerships shows an independence of spirit, and if that can be maintained in the face of the sort of foolish commonality of talk, so much the better.

2 thoughts on “Driving A Laughing Stock – The Courage Of The Edsel Owner

    1. Jane, I suspect it was a combination of the times and the advertising hype. They were touted to be the most fantastic Ford ever…well in advance of the release of the car. When it came out as a basic Ford shape with a funny grille but no other really space-age features, it deflated the balloon. Early line production was low on quality control, as can be the case when staff are taken away from other lines, and the lack of esy fixes in the Ford agencies also soured the public. Had there been better QC, an established parts and service structure, and less ballyhoo, it might have succeeded. And as you can imagine, once a car gets to be the butt of jokes, there is little chance of recovery- viz some GM products in the 90’s. Or any Trabant.


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