The Edsels From Mandurah

 

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I do love a car show. No matter where you go there always seem to be new vehicles on display. And by the very nature of the thing, their owners want you to take notice of them. Oh I met one very odd lady at the Big Al’s show who forbid me to take pictures of her Ford pickup truck – a ban I promptly ignored – but by and large they love having photos taken of the cars.

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Edsels are not that common in Western Australia – I’ve seen two of them at Big Al’s on separate occasions – the red and white seen in the background here is one of them – and now two more at the Whiteman Park show. All of them have been preserved/restored well with little evidence of any hot rodding or customisation. I think the seat covers and valve stem trim on the white vehicle seen here is the wildest that they have gotten. And I can’t say I blame the owners, either – they have something in their hands that stands out from the motoring pack without adding extra accessories.

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Here in Australia we have also had cars that have been treated like Edsels – in my youth the Lightburn Zeta, the Goggomobile, and the Hillman Imp come to mind. They were small and cheap and horrible. I am thrilled to be able to say that the Imp was on my short list for my first car. Eeeek. I came thaaaaaat close to stepping into one…

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Okay, all that aside, and at a comfortable interval – over 50 years – since the ex/implosion of the publicity campaigns for the Edsel, we can look at the actual vehicles. Remember that you are seeing a late 50’s American product and the styling is going to have all the signatures of the time. Apart from the suggestive oval grill work, there are flattened fins on long rear decks, hefty, heavy chrome bumpers, and cavernous boots. In the case of the two-door there is a very large side window space once the glass is down and in both instances there are solid doors.

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Folks, these are features I would love to have in a car right now. I can’t get them because they don’t make them on things I can afford. In some respects I am worse served by modern design over that of 57 years ago. Of course, when I fill my little car up with petrol and buzzle about for a week on one tank, I am validating a number of those design decisions…but not when I try to take four people for a ride with a holiday’s worth of luggage.

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Is it better built than a new Bentley? No. Was it better built than a ’59 Bentley? No. Could more people afford to buy it than could afford Bentleys? You know the answer to that one. I know at least four Western Australians who have opted for the Detroit iron…

 

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