|Now in its third and final year on the market, the 1960 Edsel Ranger two-door hardtop sold for $2,991 f.o.b. Oakville when equipped with the Economy Six and $3,087 with the eight-cylinder engine.|
It was a car that seemed like a good idea at the time. Named for Henry Ford’s only son, the need for an automobile brand to fit between the Ford and Mercury marques in the American corporate family lineup had been identified as early as 1948. Its creation would complete a lockstep, cradle-to-grave, life-long range of Dearborn products for consumers. Young owners would buy Ford, move up to the new brand with time, as they grew more affluent, then they would move up the ladder to Mercury territory and when wealthy, they would pilot the pinnacle of Dearborn’s success, the lovely Lincoln.
|A 1953 stylist's rendering of the Edsel.|
Work began on the Edsel in 1952. It would take five years to bring it to market. Code named the “E” car (for Experimental); it was slated to debut in the fall of 1957 as a 1958 model. Expectations for this project were high during these years; automobiles were selling in fantastic numbers. In November of 1956, the Edsel was even given its own division.
|1955 Edsel mockup is close to the final production model.|
Now, this was very welcome news for our good friends and neighbours to the south of the border but here at home, Ford had long offered a complete lineup. The last rung in the corporate ladder was completed by Ford of Canada in April of 1948, with the introduction of the 1949 Meteor. Based on the Ford shell, it joined the homegrown Monarch, derived from Mercury, back in 1946. The Canadian corporate stable ran thusly: Ford, Meteor, Mercury, Monarch and Lincoln. It was a solid family of cars, one that Canadians approved of year after year.
Edsel would change all that. It had been determined that Ford Canada's Oakville, Ontario would produce lower priced Edsel models for the domestic market. Clearly there would need to be some changes in the corporate lineup. Just as the Governor General is supposed to leave the country when the Queen is here, Monarch was deleted to make room for the newcomer. The first Edsels rolled down the line of the Oakville plant in August 1957.
The 1958 Ford, Meteor and Mercury lines were all unveiled to the public on November 7, 1957 but anticipation mounted as Canadians eagerly awaited the newest member of the blue oval family Edsel was finally unveiled on September 2nd to those attending the CNE in Toronto but for average folk, “E” Day, as the introduction of Edsel was nationally hyped, was a special event that took place at the new Ford-Edsel dealerships on September 11, 1957.
Edsel sold 3,632 units by the end of the calendar year, a goodly number to be sure, but warning bells went off as the economy faltered. Projections called for a total of 400 Edsel units to be produced during December, but only 184 of the mid-priced beauties were built.
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Economists had never seen a business recession like this one. There was no major dip in factory production, no huge layoffs in the workforce. In fact, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics would record that the Gross National Production figures for 1958 would actually rise 2 percent over 1957. Still, without consumer confidence, markets for durable goods of all kinds softened considerably.
Sales were poor for all the automakers in the first nine months of 1958. At Ford, new passenger car registrations were off by a whopping 11.3 percent and production plummeted by 18.8 percent from 1957. The only bright spots for Oakville were tractors and the British Fords, which were selling as fast as hotcakes at a Shrove Tuesday dinner.
|1959 Ford Prefect 100E was popular with frugal Canadians.|
`Edsel production crept along, 113 units in January, 156 units in February, 101 units in March, 235 units in April, 257 units in May, 146 in June, 217 in July and 172 in August when Job One wound down and the changeover for the 1959 models took place.
Final figures for Edsel were not good this time around. Model year production for its maiden year added up to 3,738 units. Worse, two thirds of those had been produced in calendar year 1957. Edsel had earned less than half of the market that Monarch had vacated. Canadians simply had not warmed up to the new brand. In November of 1958 the Monarch Mark II was returned to the lineup as a 1959 model to shore up those small but valuable mid-priced sales figures.
Edsel production got underway for the 1959 model year in October of 1958 with 223 units produced. Another 288 were built in November, but Monarch production got rolling that month too, with 357 units built. A total of 383 Edsels rolled out the doors in December and 453 Monarchs did likewise.
|1959 Monarch Sceptre four-door hardtop|
Edsel model year production for 1959 peaked at 2,504 units. Monarch’s model year total was close to double that, at 4,571 units. For calendar year 1959, Monarch sold 4,801 units, taking 1.13 percent of the domestic market. Edsel sold 2,352 units, capturing only .55 percent of the market. No matter how it was sliced, Edsel was in trouble. Canadian production ceased in July, after only 39 units were produced.
|1960 Edsel Comet was intended to be a compact companion to full-sized Edsels.|
Ford had seen the future and it was small. A new small companion model, called the Comet, was readied for Edsel. Stylists were careful to give the new compact a strong family resemblance to the senior Edsels. Sales would surely rise appreciably with its introduction. But fate would see the Comet handed off to Mercury because dissatisfied management decided to pull the plug on Edsel brand completely. Edsel would be allowed to die and the company would chase Rambler’s taillights up the pike. Edsel would only be a memory when the Mercury Comet burst upon the 1961 season.
The least expensive Edsel in 1960 was the two-door sedan.
It sold for $2,923 with the six-banger and $3,019 with the Ranger V-8 engine.
Oakville would field a 1960 Edsel for the domestic market but would be imported from Ford’s plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Pared to a single series, the Ranger was offered in six- or eight-cylinder configurations along with a pair of six-passenger Villager station wagons. It was a half-hearted effort on Oakville’s part; even the sales brochures were imported.
|Adding glitz and glamour to the line was the Edsel Convertible.|
It listed for $3,427, making it the most expensive model in the Edsel family.
For the third year in a row, Edsel was significantly revised. This year a split, concave grille graced the front. Bullet-shaped turn signals pierced the outer edges. It was billed as “new in looks, nifty in action and thrifty to own and drive.” While touting its fresh, youthful styling ad copy promised that there was ample room for people with hips and hats.
| The 1960 Edsel Villager station wagon cost $3,415 with the eight-cylinder engine. |
It could hold 100 cubic feet of cargo or a lot of Girl Guides.
Under the hood was the Super Express, 352-cubic inch V-8 mill with a 4-barrel carb and dual exhaust. It could be mated to Dual-Power Drive or the Mile-O-Matic self shifter. Owners could opt the more modest Ranger V-8 with 185 horsepower or Edsel’s 145-horsepower Economy Six. Both came with manual shift transmissions but Mile-O-Matic was an extra cost option.
|One of the Personality Design Interior selections for the 1960 Edsel|
was a handcrafted combination of Pebblecloth stitched to Moroccan Vinyl.
It was still a very stylish and upscale ride, dressed in smart upholstery combinations of elegant Pebblecloth, Champagne Cloth, Ivy Stripe Ribcloth or Moroccan Vinyl. There were extra cost Deluxe trim upgrades if desired. Standard on each Edsel was wall-to-wall carpeting, an electric clock, arm rests, foam padded front seats and the Power Boost windshield wipers.
| Edsel made liberal use of Ford’s instrument panel for the 1960 season |
but carried its own unique badging on the steering wheel.
Nearly half a hundred extra-cost accessories could be had for one’s Edsel including backup lights, the Lever-temp heater and defroster unit, rear antennae, a wide range of power options for everything from seats to windows to brakes and a remote control deck lid opener.
Edsels could be ordered in Diamond Lustre finishes: Alaskan Gold Metallic, Black Velvet, Bronze Rose Metallic, Buttercup Yellow, Cadet Blue Metallic, Cloud Silver Metallic, Hawaiian Blue, Lilac Metallic, Polar White, Regal Red, Sahara beige, Sea Foam Green, Sherwood Green Metallic, Turquoise and Turquoise Metallic. In addition, there were twenty two-tone colour combinations and they were reversible, too.
Officials announced that the last Edsel would be built on November 19, 1959. It was a curt end for a car that was never well accepted. Only 1,232 Edsels were sold throughout the Dominion during the 1960 calendar year.
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Copyright James C. Mays 2004 All rights reserved.