If there is one word in the entire automotive jargon (which as we know is quite extensive) that best summarizes ‘expensive, embarrassing flop’, it has to be ‘Edsel’. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even that the Edsel was a bad car, or had terrible design; it was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It also had terrible karma, if you believe in these things, as it was named after Henry Ford’s dead son, which doesn’t sound like a great idea under almost any circumstances.
Of course, nobody admitted fault for the fiasco. It was the design, they said, but the later was totally in line with the traditional excesses of the 1950s; the fact was that after the boom years, the market just wanted cars that were a little bit smaller, cheaper and more reasonable, that’s all. Nothing wrong with the Edsel. It was forecast that they would sell 200,000 in the first year, but were only able to sell 62,000, which seems like a good number (it is) but not when you consider that Ford spend $250,000,000 on the development, a fortune by the standards of the industry at the time.
The Edsel came in a wide variety of models (15 total), including sedans, station wagons, convertibles and everything in between. They were powered by a choice of engines, from six-cylinders to powerful V8s, which could propel them to 60 mph in 12 seconds. Edsel top speed ranged from 90 to 108 miles an hour, nothing to write home about.
Ford’s Edsel adventure came to a close in 1960, when they decided to close down the division and stop the bleeding; good call for them, but too bad for us: there aren’t too many Edsels around these days, unfortunately.