Here at BoldRide we love to talk about cutting-edge vehicles that have changed automotive history. But it’s a fact of life that not every automobile is a success. In fact, many have been huge flops. The Edsel was one such car.
They Meant Well. They Really Did.
In the mid-50s, Ford was looking for a way to take market share away from GM and Chrysler. So, the powers-that-be in Dearborn decided to create a mid-level ride that would appeal to people of average means. With that in mind, in 1955 they launched a project to create just such a vehicle, under the code name “E-Car.”
Some auto projects are led by bold, visionary thinkers. The team that put the Edsel together was nothing like those people. Though the car had some innovative features, such as low oil warning lights, on the whole it was simply a clone of other Ford models. Even the car’s name was chosen for uninspired reasons. Edsel was the name of one of Henry Ford’s sons, and the move was intended to score points with Henry Ford II. The attempt at ass-kissing failed, however. Junior strongly disapproved of the choice.
Where There’s Smoke…
Ford spared no expense in hyping the new model. It declared September 4, 1957 to be “E Day,” when the Edsel would be unveiled. Lead-up commercials and ads only showed partial images of the car, to create an air of mystery around it. Meanwhile, ad men told the press that the Edsel was the result of exhaustive research that had determined the “perfect” vehicle for the American people.
Sometimes There’s Just a Bad Smell
Unfortunately for Ford, the public didn’t see it that way. After struggling through three years of disappointing sales, the Edsel project was scrapped. The debacle cost Ford well over $4 billion in today’s money.
The automaker did receive a consolation prize, however. To this day the Edsel campaign is studied as the perfect way to NOT sell a product. In that way at least it has earned its dubious place in history.