1959 Ford Edsel Ranger
On loan from: S.L. Hagan Mack
Original cost: $2,314.00 (base) (In 1959: Average car cost $2,200.00; average household income, $5,010.00; average home cost $12,400.00; gallon of gas, 25 cents)
Number made: 7,778
Engine, etc.: 223 cu. in.; 147 hp; valve-in-head 6 cyl; 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive; 120 in. wheelbase; 3,448 lbs.
The Edsel was introduced in September, 1957 in showrooms across the country. With an extensive advertising campaign, everyone was wondering about the mysterious new vehicle. Ads began running months earlier and featured only a hood ornament or covered car with the text “The Edsel is Coming”. Dealers were liable for fines or loss of their franchise if they revealed the vehicle prior to the release date.
What the public found on the release date was just another 1958 model which did not live up to the hype which preceded its public introduction. Its new look with a big ring in the middle of the front, two headlights, and horizontal grille weren’t enough to boost sales. Many reviewers thought it was a large gas-guzzling car with strange styling.
Adding to the problems was a late 1957 release with 1958 prices which were higher. Edsel also chose to push their largest, most luxurious, and most expensive model. With an on-going recession and the public more interested in smaller cars, this proved disastrous. Only 64,000 Edsels were sold the first year.
Edsel was launched as its own division, separate from Ford, with brand-new dealerships. But Ford used the same plants for the Edsel as it used to make its Ford and Mercury lines. Employees resented having to build another division’s vehicles and intentional vandalism was common. Vehicles would come to the end of the production line with missing parts and faulty brakes. Many were unsafe on the road. Wrong parts were put in and the cars shipped to dealers, resulting in a reputation for mechanical problems. Lists were put on the steering wheel saying which parts were missing. Design flaws contributed to the problems also. The hood ornament became a safety problem – when the car reached 70 mph, the ornament would fly off the car.
The Ranger was produced on the shorter Edsel platform. It had the basic trim level and was offered as a two or four door sedan. It had a standard rear-view mirror, two coat hangers, a cigarette lighter, arm rests, and rubber floor mats. A heater and air conditioning were optional.
Rangers had chrome around the rear quarter panel cove molding. An optional “Teletouch Automatic” transmission with drive-selection buttons on the steering wheel hub was offered. Mechanics were confounded by the complexity of the new automatic which tended to be trouble prone. It was dropped in 1959.
Styling became more conservative for the Ranger in 1959. Body styles included 2-door coupes, 4-door sedans, and 2 and 4 door hardtops. Also available that year were the Corsair model and a station wagon.
By 1960 the Ranger was the only model offered and four days after the introduction of the 1960 model, Edsel was discontinued by Ford.
http://oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Edsel/1959_Edsel/1959_Edsel_Prestige_Brochure/dirindex.html (Original 1959 Edsel sales brochure)
http://uniquecarsandparts.com/lost_marques_edsel.htm (Edsel history)