Friday, October 23, 2009

1958 Edsel Pacer 4-door Sedan

"This is the Edsel and there has never been a car like it. Originality is clearly written in the elegance of its every line – from its bold vertical grille to the sweep of its low, wide flight deck. You sense this originality, too, in Edsel's effortless performance. And you command a new kind of automotive power – effortless, quiet, unsurpassed for flexibility and responsiveness."

Ford's Edsel experiment is widely used as an example for dramatic failure in establishing a new brand. At a closer look, Edsel didn't fail, but merely couldn't meet the sky-high expectations of its creators and the buying public.

Ford conceived the Edsel brand around 1954, at a time, when sales figures just knew one direction: upwards. Between Mercury and Lincoln was a wide price gap, that Edsel should fill. Ford decided to launch Edsel with a full lineup of 18 models in four different series, the entry-level Ranger and Pacer being based on Ford's 118-inch wheelbase Fairlane, while the upscale Corsair and Citation shared parts of Mercurys 124-inch body.

The models went public in September 1957, accompanied by a huge advertisement campaign. Edsels featured some new gimmicks, such as the "Teletouch Drive" push-button shifter in the center of the steering wheel, and a "Control Center Instrument Panel" with rotating-disc speedometer, but the design was not as radical, as the advertisement had promised since two years. Especially the vertical front grille divided the public opinion. Some called it "horsecollar", while others found more drastic descriptions.

By the end of 1958 Edsel had sold just two thirds of it's planned entry-year numbers, with 63.000 cars handed-over to the customers. This wasn't too bad, considering that 1958 was a recession year, but unfortunately it should become the best year in Edsel's short history. In 1959, the sales dropped to 45.000, and after just 2846 1960-models, the Edsel experiment was stopped.

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