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Another milestone in automotive history. . .
19 November 1959: a date that will live in infamy, as far as the Ford Motor Company is concerned. On this date, Ford was forced to announce that it was discontinuing the Edsel. The was a 1958 Edsel, a 1959 Edsel, and a 1960 Edsel. But there was no 1961 Edsel. Sad, really.
In the 1950s, there was postwar consumer power to contend with. People didn't have to buy what the manufacturer wanted to sell.
And boy, did they not want an Edsel.
The name didn't help, now, did it? The Edsel was named after Henry Ford's son. What we want to know is, who names a kid Edsel, anyway? Well, nobody anymore. Thanks to the massive rejection of the car by the buying public – who reacted with 'Do Not Want' – the name 'Edsel' became a by-word for 'failure' in the US lexicon.
Why did the car fail? It was large. It was innovative. But nobody wanted one. Some people blame the name, some the marketing, some the shrinking car market due to the 1957 mini-recession. Some people just say the Ford people didn't know how to listen to customers.
Some people claimed it was the fault of the grille, which looked – depending on your point of view – like 'a toilet seat', 'an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon', or a horse collar1. Some people probably would rather have gotten a horse. Personally, the Editor prefers the 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air from his childhood.
If you care for advertising, here's some for the Edsel.
One thing is sure, though: the rare Edsel is a highly collectible item, these days.
(Thanks to Icy North and Recumbentman for help with research on this important topic.)