1958 Ford Edsel
Displacement: 410 cu. in
Horsepower: 345 bhp at 4,600 RPM
Torque: 475 ft-lbs at 2,900 RPM
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
A Little History
The Edsel was a division of the Ford Motor Company that designed and produced cars from 1958–1960. Attempting to close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market, Ford invested in a yearlong teaser campaign leading consumers to believe that the Edsel was the car of the future.
The Edsel’s most memorable design feature was its trademark “horsecollar” (or derogatorily “toilet seat”) grille, which was quite distinct from other cars of the period.
The Edsel offered several features that were considered innovative for the time, including its rolling-dome speedometer and its push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel. Base sticker price was a high $3,766 before an enormous number of options available.
Other Edsel design innovations include ergonomically designed controls for the driver, self-adjusting brakes, and seat belts (which were available as optional equipment on many other makes) and child-proof rear door locks. On September 4, 1957 the day finally arrived, even pre-empting The Ed Sullivan Show with The Edsel Show featuring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. The Edsel generated more showroom traffic on “E”-Day than any other automobile in history.
Despite its highly publicized intro into the market and the $400 million dollars Ford invested in its development, the Edsel was not as successful as Ford executives had hoped and production was cut short after only three model years (644 convertibles were made in 1957, in the Somerville, Massachusetts plant). Less than 6,000 Edsels survive today.
Edsel offered 161 colors for 1958, and with the choice of either a single-, two- or three-tone paint scheme on the Citation; customers had, in theory, several million color combinations to choose from when ordering their new car. Over the past five decades, the public opinion of the Edsel has changed dramatically, as many enthusiasts consider each and every surviving example a treasured classic.
A 1959 Edsel Citation made a brief cameo in an episode of Starsky & Hutch.