Ford's loss on the Edsel

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I've been reading recently about the Edsel debacle. Here's a fun fact: Ford lost $400 million dollars total on the entire Edsel experience. For perspective, that's between 3 and 4 billion in today's money. One wonders how they were able to absorb that and remain solvent. From what I've learned, the Edsel had several strikes against it. Over hyping the car meant that people were chomping at the bit to get to the dealer, but many found it downright ugly. Secondly, Ford didn't position the line with enough demarcation between their Ford and Mercury divisions. The public didn't know what rung the car fit on. Third, the factories built the Edsel on standard Ford/Lincoln assembly lines even though many of the parts for the Edsel were dramatically different and required switching around of stock. As a result, many Edsels were assembled with shoddy workmanship and some were shipped to dealers with parts still in the trunk, to be assembled at the dealer level before the car could go on sale.
 
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Yes, the summary is consistent with what I've seen over the years. Maybe the only good thing was that the namesake never lived to see it; most accounts of him make him out to be a decent guy but unable to tell to old man to buzz off. On the other hand maybe his design skills might have had an influence. Kevin
 
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The Edsel was the product of a committee. Evidently that did not work out. Other cars that were credited to a single person fared better like the Pontiac GTO and the original Ford Mustang.
 
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Originally Posted By: OneEyeJack
The Edsel was the product of a committee. Evidently that did not work out. Other cars that were credited to a single person fared better like the Pontiac GTO and the original Ford Mustang.
Honestly...the GTO required no engineering input, just marketing. It was a Le Mans coupe with the Catalina's engine, all a 100% bolt-together affair.
 
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Originally Posted By: Jarlaxle
Honestly...the GTO required no engineering input, just marketing...
In my country they're almost one and the same. smile
 
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Originally Posted By: chestand
I've been reading recently about the Edsel debacle. Here's a fun fact: Ford lost $400 million dollars total on the entire Edsel experience. For perspective, that's between 3 and 4 billion in today's money. One wonders how they were able to absorb that and remain solvent. From what I've learned, the Edsel had several strikes against it. Over hyping the car meant that people were chomping at the bit to get to the dealer, but many found it downright ugly. Secondly, Ford didn't position the line with enough demarcation between their Ford and Mercury divisions. The public didn't know what rung the car fit on. Third, the factories built the Edsel on standard Ford/Lincoln assembly lines even though many of the parts for the Edsel were dramatically different and required switching around of stock. As a result, many Edsels were assembled with shoddy workmanship and some were shipped to dealers with parts still in the trunk, to be assembled at the dealer level before the car could go on sale.
I don't think the guts of the thing were any different than a Merc.
 
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They really didn't lose that much.With the expansion of Ford and Mercury plants to add Edsel production,that extra space was used later by Falcon and Comet.So that wasn't wasted.Tooling costs and advertising costs were lost,but 1st year sales of 60,000 actually wasn't bad,and the decontented 59s selling 40K actually should have nearly broken even.It was a big lesson for those who relied on surveys and researchers rather than those who actually "knew" the market could not absorb another entry in the medium price field.
 
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Originally Posted By: Jarlaxle
Originally Posted By: OneEyeJack
The Edsel was the product of a committee. Evidently that did not work out. Other cars that were credited to a single person fared better like the Pontiac GTO and the original Ford Mustang.
Honestly...the GTO required no engineering input, just marketing. It was a Le Mans coupe with the Catalina's engine, all a 100% bolt-together affair.
Exactly. And it was a roaring success directed by one man, John DeLorean. Same with the Mustang, a product of Lee Iaccoca's car guy mind. There was not 2 cents worth of engineering to make a Falcon into a Mustang and it succeeded. In fact, Ford engineering wanted to put IRS in the Mustang and a lot of other features and Lee Iaccoca blocked it all. And he was correct. And if you'll recall, the Edsel was mainly a rebadged Ford with a push button transmission shifter copied from Chrysler.
 
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I don't see how the Edsel was considered ugly. First of all, I have a thing for side by side headlights. Maybe I lack taste, but it seemed to fit in quite well with other cars from back then. Another example is the AMC Gremlin and Pacer as well. They were considered ugly by many, but I still like them. I guess I just like nostalgic cars.. Perhaps I do lack taste too. laugh
 
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Just a Ford with overly complicated and problematic controls and pretty lights and gauges... but that and all other sins could have been forgiven if they just hadn't been so UGLY.
 
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It had a different grille and tail lights from the Merc or the Ford of the 57-59 era. Thats all. Another car had a push button shifter in the 50s. Packard at its end? Cars of this era were junk compared to what we drive today.
 
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Originally Posted By: andyd
Another car had a push button shifter in the 50s. Packard at its end?
Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge-DeSoto Powerflite automatic transmission. The buttons were in the dash on the Chryslers. None of that odd planetary gearset steering wheel stuff. The Soviets copied the Chrysler transmission for the priviliged elite Soviet Gaz. Down to the pushbutton transmission.
 
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one thing the Edsel Definitely did, was create thousands of Jobs in My Community since the late 50's The Ford Lima Engine Plant was originally constructed for Edsel Motors. Since, it's built millions upon Millions of engines. too many different lines for my brain to remember right now, but chances are you've owned or driven a Lima engine over the years if you're into Fords.
 
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I've always had a soft spot for the Edsel's design. Possibly because I had a pre-assembled model of it, I think 1/24 scale, when I was about 8, with a light sea-green exterior and interior. The plastic smelled great. The public may have found the design ugly, as they apparently did the Chrysler Airflow 20 years before. Maybe it was ahead of its time. The Subaru Tribeca (?) used some design cues from it in their grill, right? Did those sell much more poorly than other Subarus? A combination of quirky-to-weird grille design and/or poor reliability, a recession, and an overloaded market segment: The Edsel might have been able to overcome any one, or maybe two, but not all three.
 
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1958 was kind of an unusual year for auto styling. We have the Edsel of course, but it was also the year that the Thunderbird became a big "square-bird" and the Tri-5 Chevies became the Impala.
 
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Originally Posted By: chestand
As a result, many Edsels were assembled with shoddy workmanship and some were shipped to dealers with parts still in the trunk, to be assembled at the dealer level before the car could go on sale.
Click and Clack used to say that about K-Cars. They were so poorly built, they had to be rebuilt before they could be sold.
 
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Originally Posted By: Spazdog
Originally Posted By: andyd
Another car had a push button shifter in the 50s. Packard at its end?
Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge-DeSoto Powerflite automatic transmission. The buttons were in the dash on the Chryslers. None of that odd planetary gearset steering wheel stuff. The Soviets copied the Chrysler transmission for the priviliged elite Soviet Gaz. Down to the pushbutton transmission.
Not just the PowerFlite...the Torqueflite used pushbuttons until 1964.
 
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