The Edsel has passed into popular modern mythology as the ultimate in corporate blunders. It was a marque pitched by Ford at the lower medium market sector, between the much bigger Fords and the budget Mercury models. By the time it was launched, the market was in a slump, buyers were looking for smaller cars and the Edsel, the wrong car at wrong time, became an unfortunate victim of its own massive type. Forecasting 200,000 sales in the first year, Ford claimed that the new car, named after the dead son of Henry Ford, had cost #250 million to develop. When only 62,000 buyers were tempted, critics blamed the styling, with its unusual vertical grille. In fact, the Edsel was reasonably restrained by the excessive standards of the period, its fins well clipped with a clean side profile. Spanning 15 separate models, the Edsel was actually something of a separate Ford division, with saloon, convertible and station wagon bodies on the same ultra conventional floor pan. As usual with Ford at the time, there were six cylinder and V8 engine options, ranging in output from 145 bhp to 345 bhp, with three speed manual and automatic transmission versions.
There was a mid restyle for 1959, when Ford bosses tried to arrest dramatically falling sales. A totally new shall in a much reduced line up followed for the 1960 model year. In fact, the Edsel line was dead by the end of 1960, cancelled due to lack of interest. The ill omened name came to represent just how badly motor manufactures could misjudge the marketplace and a car’s appeal to the public.