edsel.com Anecdotes


Being an Edsel owner by definition qualifies you to be unique.  And each one of us has an entertaining (or bizarre) story surrounding this automobile.

There have been some anecdotes recieved via e-mail that really cry out to be shared with other owners.  This page is dedicated to the most exceptional Edsel anecdotes.

Edsel Swag Littered the House

Gary Schwertley

My dad, Don Schwertley, worked in the car business for most of his adult life, in addition to being a reserve USAF officer.  In late 1957, he was working as the service manager of Harbor Lincoln-Mercury in Long Beach, California.  Some fellows he knew down the street owned a Ford dealer and were starting up the local town franchise across the street for the new Edsel.  They told my dad that this car was going to sell like hotcakes and he ought to get in on the deal; they wanted him to come down to the new "Don L" Edsel dealership and be the service manager there.  He did, and Don L Edsel lasted six weeks before the bottom fell out of the market, if there ever had been one.  The dealership was closed quickly and my dad had to find another job in service administration elsewhere.  This new product was subject to the biggest and most expensive marketing/advertising program that Ford had ever undertaken; it didn't pan out.

After the Edsel fiasco, we had a bunch of promotional items around our house for years, some of the fruit of the big multi-million dollar promotion.  We had an Edsel blanket (each Edsel was shipped with a nice flannel blanket on the front seat to keep it from getting soiled).  We had Edsel playing cards, brochures, fact books, handkerchiefs (which were lettered Y C D E S O Y A, which my dad said stood for You Can't Demonstrate Edsels Sitting on Your Arse; these, obviously, were intended for salesmen).  We had parts books and service manuals, pictures, and I don't know what-all.  The "Big E" was omnipresent.  My dad was a pack rat and whenever any dealership he worked for was tossing something out, my dad brought it home.  All of this Edsel stuff had that wretched, billious, bright green product signature color on it.  Some people want to put failure out of their minds and would have never kept this stuff around; apparently, it didn't bother my dad.

I very well remember having a light green Edsel convertible promo hard plastic model that I quickly ran into the ground.  It was fairly perishable in the hands of an 8-year-old boy.  I remember the first thing to break on that model was the hood ornament.  It went rapidly downhill from there.  On the other hand, we had the green/white flannel blanket for 25 years and took it camping all the time.

I have been cleaning things out of my house lately and I think I finally have reached the bottom of the Edsel barrel after all these years.  I found a little 1958 Edsel specifications booklet, about 3 x 6 inches, 41 pages ("Form 5707").  I sold it on Ebay to some, er, "Edsel Enthusiast" for over $50.  Maybe that will help offset some of Ford's $400 million dollar loss.

IBM's Edsel Award

(From a 2002 online auction)

"This is the front grill from a 1959 Edsel.  It has all of its original 3 parts and was mounted on a hardwood plaque with original Edsel letters from the same auto.  This award was used by one of the leading IBM sales divisions during the 1960's and '70's.

Even though this division was a leading sales division, someone had to be last each quarter, and that person was to post this plaque in a prominant place in their office for that quarter.  Stories are told of how guys would work around the clock to avoid this quarterly award."

Edsel Drop Test

Stephen H. Kaiser

In late 1957, the Edsel Division announced the shut down of their Somerville, Massachusetts assembly operations by the following March.  Morale was terrible due to the imminent plant closure, and it was reflected in the poor quality of the last of the vehicles coming off the line.  Plant officials were taking virtually all the cars and putting them on haulers for shipment to Louisville to be patched up and repaired.  The pushbutton transmissions were a major problem, and loading and unloading the haulers was a pain because the cars would tend to jump out of gear and then get stuck.  So one young fellow doing the loading decided he wasn't going to get stuck, and really gunned the Edsel up the loading ramp. 

Unfortunately for him, the engine and transmission in this car were really good.  The car went up and over the trailer and truck cab, and bellyflopped on the parking lot blacktop.  The kid broke his nose banging into the steering wheel and had to be taken to the local hospital.

Afer the initial consternation, plant employees directed their attention back to the Edsel, which after its bellyflop, was still idling quietly.  They looked at it, tried driving it around and everything seemed OK.  So they drove it up the hauler ramp and off it went to Kentucky.  Any well-running Edsel would have to pass the quality test in Louisville, so I imagine this car made its way to a dealer and then on to a new owner - who probably had no idea he had just purchased such a "well-tested" vehicle!

Knowing Too Much About Your Edsel

Adam Samulak

I bought my 1959 Ranger with paper route money when I was fourteen from a man in my hometown who collected old cars and just ran out of room to store it.  That was about 1994.  When I bought it, it had 31,000 original miles on it.  When I turned 16 rumor spread around town that there was a young kid driving an Edsel, and I got pulled over CONSTANTLY.  Mostly it was just an excuse to admire the vehicle, and maybe bust a kid screwing around in the most conspicuous car in town.

The most memorablle, however, was when I was about 17.  A police officer flashed his lights behind me and I eased over to the curb.  I wasn't speeding (you don't exceed trolling speed in one of these boats) and I was racking my brain to come up with any other traffic violation I had committed.  The officer came to the window, and nervously I rolled it down.  He asked to see my license and registration.  I handed it to him and a grin slowly spread across his face.  "You bought this Edsel off of *name excluded* didn't you?", He said with a chuckle.  "Y-y-y-esss SIR!", I stammered.
"I recognized it the moment I saw it son," he said.  "This is a hard car to forget.  *Name excluded* is my father.  And just between you and me, kid, I lost my virginity in the back seat of this very car."

Needless to say, I share this story with everyone who rides in the back of my '59... after they have gotten out, of course.

Teletouch Blues

Casper Shahan

As an Account Manager for a major computer manufacturing firm, I talk with a lot of people in a day's time.  Over the years, I have become good friends with many of my accounts.  Recently, I purchased an Edsel.  I've had many Edsels in the past, but with kids growing up and a bump in the road known as a financial hardship, I had put my love of cars behind me.

Excited about this new Edsel purchase, I shared the details with several of my clients!  While sharing with one such client, she had a few Edsel details for me as well.  Seems as a child, her parents owned an Edsel - a 1958 to be precise.  Playing around in the front seat, they disengaged the Teletouch and drifted out into traffic!  A by-stander rushed out and rescued them.

The story doesn't end there though.  My co-worker overheard my conversation and quickly asked whom I was speaking with.  Seems this tale of woe hit all too close to home, as she also experienced the same situation!  Except, the Edsel did not drift out into traffic, but down a hill and smack... into a tree!  She remembers staying with her grandparents the rest of that weekend, while her mother calmed her father down!!

Grand-dad's Edsel

Tim Heckelsmiller

My Grand-dad had a 59 Edsel Corsair (Talisman Red and Moonrise Gray top).  He was going to another town shopping in 1966 and met up with a friend along the way, so naturally they decided to ride together.  He parked his Edsel in the ditch till they returned.  After a days shopping he returned to find four more Edsels abandoned next to his.  I personally think it is a joke but to the day he died he swore it was true.

On another ocasion he was in another town and as he left a store there was another pink (Talisman Red) and gray Edsel parked in the lot.  He hopped in and drove away, later realizing none of the items in the car were his.  He immediately drove back to the store and the other Edsel owner was in his car laughing, as the keys fit both cars.  What a chuckle they got out of that.  I do know this story is true - I was with him at the time!

Edsel as a Survival Tool

Eric Nelson and his 1959 Edsel Ranger

Back around 1995, sometime in September I'd say, maybe early October, I had the machine all washed and shined (this was before its PO-applied paint began to oxidize more rapidly than I could keep up with) and parked in the driveway to play with the power steering valve.

It was about 2:30 on a nice sunny day.  I had my head and shoulders under the car, just behind the front wheel, and I was messing around with the valve when my buddy (helping by watching) casually said, "Hey, you better get out of there.  You're on fire."  Of course that statement makes no sense when nobody is smoking, there's no ignition source in the area, no gas trickling out of anything.. so I thought he was making some kind of joke.  I worked on for a few seconds, and he said, "I'm not joking!  You're about to go up in smoke!"  At that point I decided I'd better find out what was going on out there.. and simultaneously I felt a hot spot burning into my belly!

I crawled out from under the car and looked down to see my T-shirt smoking, a small hole burned through it.  What?  We surveyed the scene.. and there it was: the 2:30 sun was focused by the shiny '58 wheelcover, the concave center making a perfect burn-spot at the point where I'd been lying near it!

Spontaneous Edsel Human Combustion!  If I'd had gas on my shirt, and nobody around to warn me, nobody could guess what hit me.  Up in flames!

After we picked ourselves up from laughing, we resolved to keep this a secret in case we needed to make a big insurance score one day.. we'd park the Edsel next to his Honda on a bed of dry leaves at 2:30, walk away, and claim the fire insurance later.  Now it can be told, for the Edsel is gone and my buddy's new Honda was totalled by some girl anyway.

This spring I happened to tell the story to a German buddy at my university.  Naturally he refused to believe it, but as it happens I saved the best wheelcover when I sold the car.  A bit after noon I retrieved it from my wall, shined the center, and lit his cigarette at a point about a foot in front of the dish.  When the sun was free of cloud cover, in March, the cigarette was burning within 5 seconds.  Edsel power!

Now whenever I go camping or flying I take the wheelcover along in case a "survival situation" should develop.  Anybody could start fires with survival matches or two sticks, but if I ever have to save myself in the wilderness, walk out, and become famous, my story would totally reverse the Edsel image!

Edsel - Live from Budapest

Cem Basman - Hamburg, Germany

In the summer of 1965 my parents and I drove with my uncle and his wife in an Edsel from Istanbul/Turkey to Vienna/Austria.  I was at the age of 12.  We had to make one stop for the night in Budapest/Hungary.  Remember: It was the Cold War and we were behind the Iron Curtain.  I will never forget the next morning when we went to the car.  There was a crowd of hundreds standing around that car!  And they were staring at it as if it was an UFO!!  They applauded when we drove from the parking lot!  Amazing!

If you think your Edsel experience would identify with current owners and enlighten potential owners, send it along!  Contact admin@edsel.com today.