The Edsel turns 50

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of The Edsel, Ford Motor Company's iconic failed auto. Seen here is a beautiful 1958 Corsair, one of many fine Edsels you can admire at the Gallery. From
 Edselcom Unlimited 091302-01X Released into a nation struggling with a weak economy and fears of the Soviet satellite flying high overhead, the Edsel rollout couldn't have had worse timing. Combined with an undersupplied dealership network, radical styling and overhyped publicity, the 1958 Edsel undeservedly became a symbol of failure that endures to this day.
Link to, Link to the Edsel entry on Wikipedia, Link to Washington Post article from Tuesday


  1. The Edsel has always been an inspiration to me.

    Unlike most people, I think of the Edsel as being oddly successful.

    That’s because the really smart people learn more from failures (aka experiments and research) than from successes.

    When I’m stuck on a problem all I have to do is look at the model Edsel I keep in my office and suddenly I’m thinking in new ways. Voilà, my problem is solved.

    I know it’s weird but it works for me!


  2. As an Edsel owner (and BoingBoing fan), I’d like to say “thanks” for writing a concise and accurate description of why the Edsel “failed.” So many media outlets got it wrong, so nice work!

    Also worth noting: Robert McNamara essentially killed off the Edsel even before it launched. He hated the “E Car” project from the beginning. It never really had a chance, even without the other issues.

  3. You have to admit, everyone knows about the Edsel.

    And I do remember hearing that the buzz was that the extravagant grille was in fact modelled on Mrs. Ford’s twat. perhaps apocryphal, but that was one more reason not to be associated with this car.

  4. I drive a ’59 Edsel around my town in Florida. There are a surprising number of driveable Edsels in this state. It’s a lot of fun except for the 6 months of hot Summer. No AC :-(

    – Andrew

  5. …Actually, most experts these days theorize that the reason MacNamara torpedoed the Edsel from the start was because the grille remined him of his own distinct schnozzola, albeit from a nose-on view and upside-down.

    …Hmm. Edsel. Keeping the Cuban Blockade nuke-free, Vietnam. World Bank. Wasn’t the first gaffe evidence the guy’s a bigger walking cluster-frack than Joe Btzflk?

  6. Enough revisionism! The Edsel was a failure. It failed because it was ugly, overpriced, and built by people who substituted bad market research for engineering vision.

  7. I grew up in the heyday of cable television and was memetically fed on old 60s cartoon and comedy reruns, as well as crates of cheap, used Mad Magazine books.

    I’m sure I’m not the only 20something out there who has been culturally imprinted upon by the glut of past media that used to outnumber new media on channels like Nickelodeon and who feels a twinge of nostalgia at the sight of this ungainly monster.

  8. The car didn’t fail because of the times. It didn’t fail because someone didn’t want it to succeed.
    It failed because it was really ugly.
    That’s the whole thing.
    What was the second car Henry let Edsel design?
    Right. There wasn’t one.

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