Deriving its name from Edsel Ford, the son of company founder Henry Ford, Edsels were developed in an effort to give Ford an additional brand to gain market share from Chrysler and General Motors between 1958 and 1960.
Ford invested in a significant advertising campaign, marketing Edsels as the cars of the future, but the model line would ultimately become synonymous with failure.
The Edsel – which came in an unprecedented 18 models! – was saddled with quality and reliability issues from the very beginning.
Its price was also a sticking point, starting at $2,500 and topping out at $3,800, which was much more expensive than other Ford models at the time.
Most people didn’t think the Edsel looked good, either. Ford designers wanted to make it stand out, so they designed a vertical grille.
But in order to keep the engine cool, that vertical grille – nicknamed “the horse collar”, “an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon”, and “a toilet seat” – had to be enormous, which made the entire car look silly in the eyes of critics and consumers.
Ugly, overpriced, overhyped, poorly made and poorly timed, the Edsel was produced for only two years. In the end, the failed project cost Ford $250 million and has gone down in history as a cautionary tale.
Ironically, since relatively few cars were built (approximately 116,000), the Edesl is now a rare collector’s item. The rarest models – such as the 1960 Ranger Deluxe four-door hardtop (of which, only 31 were made) – command seriously big money.