The crash named Edsel

55 years ago the management of Ford Motor Company has officially announced the launch of a brand new car, named after Henry Ford's only son. November 19th, 1956 no one could assume that it will take a few years and the word Edsel become synonymous with "commercial disaster." Today we remember the story of the failed US project car, and perhaps the entire world.

Text + 22 photos.






The balance of power in the car market of postwar America seems extremely simple. There are players large Detroit Three and there are others. But even in the grand triumvirate of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler actually forces were not equal. "Blue Oval" sales are well ahead of the empire Walter Krasylera and equally convincingly lost "Gee Em". And if the Ford brand itself quite successfully competed with cars Chevrolet, then the game is a mid-range Mercury had no chance in a fight with "dzhiemovskimi» Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick. That's why at the end of 40th in Dearborn realized the need to create a new brand that would have occupied a niche somewhere between Ford and Lincoln.

Photo 1. The basis for the two model families became Edsel Ford Fairlane ...




Photo 2 ... and Mercury Monterey.




It would seem that the problem is very clear, you only need to act. But we need to be clear about the situation in the empire, "Blue Oval" to understand why the process was extremely slow. The fact is that in the 50's in the Ford was a desperate internal struggles for influence between, say, the old guard - managers veteran who worked in Dearborn for many years, and a group of ambitious young managers, who joined the company after the war. Groups of young people, nicknamed Whiz-kids, that is, 'Guys, wizards, "he invited the grandson of Henry Ford - Henry Ford II, who gets up at the helm of the company in 1947. Magnificent analysts and economists, they are completely indifferent to the cars, but knew how to make big money.

Photo 3. Roy Brown beside his unfortunate offspring. After the failure of the Edsel, Brown sent into exile in European Studies Ford. There he will create a model of the famous Cortina, which will bring "blue oval" a lot of money - far more than were lost in the crash of the brand Edsel.




Curiously, the first on the need for a new brand talking just "old people." In the early 50's Vice President of Sales John Davis, based on data from market research, introduced a new line of mid-size cars would include sedan, coupe, convertible and hardtop. Among other things, the new brand, the debut of which was planned for 1958, would help to increase the number of dealers of Ford Motor Company - indicator by which the "Blue Oval" hopelessly lost General Motors.

But if it were that simple. Having heard about this plan, "the guys wizards" immediately questioned its effectiveness and presented his own version.

Photo 4. The advertisement Edsel car shamelessly called analogues did not exist.




The new concept was offered by one of the most successful and influential young managers Francis Reith. Yes, the new brand is required, but firstly it should appear on the market before the year, and most importantly - consist of two different sizes of model families. More compact will occupy a niche between the Ford and Mercury, and what is more - between Mercury and Lincoln. An ambitious and risky plan, according to calculations "Ford" strategy, was to increase the market share of "Blue Oval" to the end of the decade as much as 20%. Played their role and the fact that the author of a bold concept Reith literally just cranked very profitable deal for Ford in Europe and basked in the glory of the hero of the day. As a result, the board of directors approved his plan is.
Initially, the new brand, code name E-car («Experimental Car"), planned to be created from scratch - with their engines and bodywork. (Just like E-mobility, golly - approx. Kopipaster). It turned out too expensive. I had to jump on the stove - that is, from the standard models of Ford and Mercury. This team of stylists Department of promising developments strictly ordered to do something totally unlike any other car. Young and ambitious designer Roy Brown enthusiastically took up the matter. The challenge, given the available input, seemed difficult, but E-car turned out, exactly as ordered, quite different from its competitors.

Photo 5. Edsel model range 1968 at a glance. Citation and Corsair models are built on the chassis of Mercury, cheaper Pacer and Ranger - in the "Ford" platform.



- Work on the project started very suddenly - remember long after Brown. - First of all, we went outside and began to carefully consider all the passing cars. And soon we noticed a common feature of all machines - is a front end that resembled a broad, fall prey.

That framing radiator - this car in person literally and figuratively - Brown and company have decided to give particular attention, rather than a broad "horizontal" jaws of offering vertical element on the pre-war Packard and De Soto. Get a fresh and unusual. The oval medallion, vaguely reminiscent of corporate treguolnik Alfa-Romeo, instantly singled out "experimental car" from the stream - anything nearly so at that time there was not one American car. Another striking feature was the E-car rear light. Brown soriginalnichat placing stylized boomerangs stoplights highest. It seemed unusual and elegant graphical solution of the rear wings. As a result, a small team of designers managed to achieve a memorable and bright appearance, beating with the infamous no keel fin and other fanciful decorative elements, so characteristic of the era of Detroit Baroque machinery. When the June 15, 1955, Roy Brown introduced a full-scale fiberglass model of "experimental vehicle", "Ford" the top - hall erupted with applause deafening.

Photo 6. There are many ways relates to the design of Edsel, but it must be recognized - the work of Roy Brown received a catchy and memorable.



Photo 7. Here and in the previous picture hardtop Pacer 1958.



If external E-car stood out from the crowd, in technical terms, the machine repeated serial models of Ford and Mercury vehicles in everything except single parts. It is worth noting the V-shaped "eight" exclusive for the new family of the working volume of 5915 cc and 6718 cc (V8 to Ford and Mercury differ cubic capacity), and a 3-speed automatic transmission with unique buttons switch, located directly on the steering wheel hub. The rest of the machine is a set of standard "Ford" parts - RAMS chassis, independent front suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers, rear semi-elliptic leaf springs, steering worm-type drum brakes on a circle.

Photo 8. elegant six-convertible Edsel Citation - the most expensive model in the lineup. The price starts at $ 3766.



There remained one small, but the fundamental problem - the new model was still nameless ... It is interesting that one of the first option proposed by one of the senior managers, it was Edsel. However, Henry Ford Second, they say, hated the thought that his father's name will spin "on thousands of wheel covers the entire country." And soon find a suitable name for the new brand has become almost the number one problem. Special Projects Division has prepared a list of demands to the title. It should be short - no more than three syllables, resounding and not containing "heavy" the letter M, W, and K. In addition, the word must be a true American, and not cause any negative associations.

Photo 9. Universal Edsel Villager depending on the version might be a six- or devyatimestnym.



Advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding, engaged in promotion of the project E-car has proposed a total of 18 thousand different options, but none of them did not like the leadership. In desperation, "fordovtsy" appealed to the poet Marianne Moore. Free from the shackles of dogmatic modernism spokeswoman issued on the mountain a few dozen options, just incredible imagination and originality. How do you like Hurricane Accipiter, Resilient Bullet or Utopian Turtletop? I mean "Thunderhawk", "springy bullet", "utopian turtle"? Famously! And they say that the Qashqai is not too good name for the car ...

Picture 10. Buttons automatic transmission made at the hub of the steering wheel - one of the few unique pieces Edsel. However, the system Teletouch drive proved to be unreliable, and it was abandoned in the second year of release.



Not surprisingly, the poetess thanked politely and went back to the original list. In the end, the final bullet came out the following quartet of contenders Ranger («The Wanderer»), Corsair («pirate»), Pacer («Pacer»), Citation («Quote»). Clear favorite was not among them, and none of the top managers of Ford did not dare to take responsibility for a difficult decision. In the end, when it was impossible to delay longer, chairman, Ernest Breech in the hearts tossed "Hell, let's call it already Edsel, I'll take care of all the formalities himself with the family Ford!».
No sooner said than done. And 19 November 1956 at a specially created press conference, Henry Ford II officially announced that a new branch of the company will get his name so early deceased father.

Photo 11. It looked like Edsel interior with standard transmission.



Now a propaganda machine "Blue Oval" has earned at full speed. Over the next ten months is still advertising a non-existent car flooded the American press. A September 4, 1957 - the day of the official withdrawal of Edsel on the market - the company paid for a truly ambitious television presentation. Without exaggeration, millions of viewers, have clung to the screens, a new brand were the most-pop culture stars Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra! At year-end presentation show Edsel was the second highest-rated US television program. Alas, it is, by and large, and remains the only big success.

Photo 12. During his official visit to Peru, the then US vice-president Robert Nixon traveled to the gig Edsel Citation. The photo captures the journey through the streets of Lima, during which the crowd showered motorcade eggs and tomatoes. "They were aiming not at me, and in the car!" - Joked after Nixon.



The problems started almost immediately. Automotive press has taken a wait - Edsel model family is not that praised effusively, but, however, and did not abuse too. "The original vertical taillights and grille - two of the most radical elements of the new Edsel. They can either love or hate - summed up the British Autocar. - Only time will tell what the position of buyers will choose ».

Picture 13.



Unfortunately, the choice of ordinary Americans are not particularly pleased with the strategists of Dearborn. Needless to say that the center of the dispute was the design of the grille? If Ford designers preferred to talk about it as a decorative element on a necklace or locket, then in common elongated oval irregular shape compared with a horse collar. Worse, wags have described as the face Edsel «Oldsmobile chewing a lemon" and vulgar drew parallels with the female anatomy.

Picture 14.



However, in itself controversial appearance has not been a disaster. "The main problem for me - it is the client's seat behind the steering wheel, - admitted one of Edsel dealer in St. Louis. - After that, he is not left without buying! »

Picture 15. Edsel 1959 model year, easily recognizable by a modified radiator grille and far less original rear optics.



But if the problem were confined to only the machine-faced! In the first two legs limp and quality. The fact that for economic reasons to produce models Edsel decided not to individual plants and already existing facilities of the company. And not at the expense of the current production plan. Roughly speaking, conveyors just ran a little faster. So, at the plant in New Jersey, where there is still an hour we collected 60 cars Ford, is now for the same time do 60 1 Ford and Edsel. The workers on the assembly line had to not only quickly move his limbs, but also to deal with a new, unfamiliar model. Not surprisingly, many of the first parties Edsel came to dealers in the form of sub-standard. Often, the specific elements of the exterior and interior decoration easily folded into the trunk, in the hope that they have themselves doustanovit sellers.

Picture 16.



Is it any wonder that the machines once the new brand its fame of qualitative and not too little, shall we say, second-rate. Meanwhile, it is completely at odds with the active compulsion to "Ford" advertising, which is almost the whole year brainwashed Americans. First, they argued that Edsel - a car a whole new level, analogues do not exist. In fact, the buyers offered perelitsovanny Ford or Mercury, with the controversial appearance, a standard set of consumer and dynamic qualities but still not very high quality assembly. In this case, mass advertising is clearly played against the machine. But even that was rarely fatal.

Picture 17. Edsel 1960, built on the basis of the new Ford Galaxie, apparently managed to lose the entire design shine. However, it was a death throes. Just a month after the debut of the model 1960 Ford announced to disband the Edsel.



Is it any wonder that the machines once the new brand its fame of qualitative and not too little, shall we say, second-rate. Meanwhile, it is completely at odds with the active compulsion to "Ford" advertising, which is almost the whole year brainwashed Americans. First, they argued that Edsel - a car a whole new level, analogues do not exist. In fact, the buyers offered perelitsovanny Ford or Mercury, with the controversial appearance, a standard set of consumer and dynamic qualities but still not very high quality assembly. In this case, mass advertising is clearly played against the machine. But even that was rarely fatal.

18. photo caused so much controversy and criticism oval grille Edsel 1958.



Worse, the second half of 1957 and, in principle, not be the best time to launch a new brand. In summer, the US economy entered into a short-term let, but a steep dive, and many people simply put off buying a new car until better times. And those who are still buying cars, preferred not to midsize models, like the Edsel, a newfangled compacts AMC Rambler and VW Beetle.
Even the name of the brand did not like customers. After sounding word Edsel reminds dead cell, the mean discharge of the battery - so avoid ambiguous associations failed.

Each of these issues alone is unlikely to be able to dump Edsel already on the rise, but all together ... In short, on the background of all these troubles 63-odd thousand Edsel, sold in the first full year, seem to be a good achievement. However, the hoped-fordovskie strategy is not less than 200 thousand!

Picture 19. According to the corporate bedzhik Edsel, we can conclude that it was created in extreme haste.



But even a bad first year of sales does not mean anything fateful - in the end, in 1957, sales have collapsed all the major players. But the main problem for the Edsel became deplorable results Mercury - the market share of the brand with the four, fell 4% to 2, 9%. And it turned out to be the main culprit Edsel - selected the novice buyers are not competitors, while sister brand. That is why in the 1959 model year release large Edsel, built on the basis of Mercury, turned. But this, as well as less radical new design and build quality podtyanuvsheesya, did not create a miracle.

Picture 20.



By that time, the fate of the brand has been resolved. Another outbreak of infighting at the highest "Ford" circles led to resignations and new appointments the next. Finally, the power of their hands firmly cleaned the most talented and the breakdown of the youth group of managerial Ford - Robert McNamara, who hurried to get rid of annoying its brand. Even if the decision to put in the awkward position of Henry Ford II, who a few months earlier publicly promised that despite temporary difficulties, Edsel is part of the long-term plans of the company. But it was not so. November 19, 1959 - that is, exactly three years after the official presentation of the brand - Ford Motor Company at least officially buried their unlucky offspring.

Picture 21.



It was a grand failure. According to rough estimates, the disaster Edsel Ford was worth no less than $ 250 million. By today's money gets nearly 3, 5 billion! It took sverhudachnym debut models such as the Falcon and Mustang, to "Blue Oval" recovered from the blow of such force.
All the more surprising, that in itself Edsel was not such a bad car, as he is commonly believed.

Finish!


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