The Ten Most Desirable Edsels

By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

I have been hanging around Edsels and the Edsel Owners' Club for about nine years now. I have seen cars come and go from my own garage, and seen transactions among many members. I have seen which cars gather the crowds at our meets, and which ones people are unsure if it is "really an Edsel." I have also been able to collect a lot of information from magazines, other chapters around the nation, and 1950's road reports. From all of this, and with a big dose of my own subjective judgment, I think it will be interesting to count down the Top Ten Most Desirable Edsel models ever made.

Before I start, it should be clear that this is not a list that ranks the value of cars. Because market value changes constantly, this would be almost impossible to do. Plus, there is no exact correlation between the value and desirability of a car - value can hinge on other factors such as rarity, previous owners, mileage, color, etc. I am going to pretend that all those things are equal, and rank just the models which I feel most people would like to own.

From the bottom of the list:

#10 Any Year 4-door Hardtop These cars are friendly and classy at the same time. The postless roof hints of an open air experience, and the four-doors are a welcome invitation to friends - "Come ride with me in my "almost-a-convertible" Edsel!" It is also a nice compromise between the best Edsel styling and practical family hauling (if you, like me, need to "justify" Edsel purchases.)


#9 '60 Ranger 2-door hardtop This is, at least to my eye, the most attractive '60 made. Many seem to agree, for they always seem to draw a crowd when they come to the meets or shows. All the advantages of the '60 Fords (they were practically the same car), but with the Edsel's stand-up taillight pods that worked extremely well with the slowly arching roofline. For those who like their cars long and lean.
#8 '59 Corsair 2-door Hardtop Top of the line hardtop for '59, it carried over the squareback roofline theme of the '58 Corsair/Citations, but on a smaller and less grand scale. Plus, the '59s are an excellent mix of Edsel design and Ford part interchangeability, making upkeep easier than it would be otherwise.


#7 '59 Villager More and more of these wagons are popping up, which indicates their popularity with the Edsel crowd. '59s are still widely available, and are sleeker and less boxy than the '58s, while still looking very "Edselish". The weakest part of owning a '59 wagon would probably be keeping the cardboard headliner from warping, and keeping the rain out of the contoured rear window.


#6 '58 Pacer/Citation 2-door Hardtops It has all the styling of the convertible, without the leaks. The swooped roofline of the Pacer model is more rakish than the stately Mercury-derived roofline of the Citation, But both benefited from the elimination of the "B" pillar, with the resulting accent on the horizontal. This body style, in a slightly less desirable trim packages, was also available in the '58 Ranger and '58 Corsair series.


#5 '60 Ranger Convertible Although this is the second rarest Edsel ever with 76 produced (only 59 '60 Villager 9-passengers were made), it is not the highest ranking on this list. Its pros are the drop top and the improved handling of all '60s, while the negatives include the boring styling (by Edsel standards) and very hard-to-find body parts. Cloth roofs and rarity win out in the price category, as these are some of the most expensive Edsels today.


#4 '59 Corsair Convertible This car has a lower beltline than the '58, and a wider range of engines to choose from. Plus, all '59s chucked the Teletouch, which made serviceability and reliability much better. The '59 is still distinctively Edsel with the horsecollar on the front. The only other model that offers a pink convertible is the Citation, and those cars can be a real handful to drive and own.


#3 '58 Bermuda Wagon When the excesses of '50s styling are pointed out, the Edsel is often noted; but the premiere wagon for '58 is an exceptional case. It has the two-toning, the horsecollar and the spear, plus wide splashes of wood paneling on both sides and the tail gate, framed in a white birch-like fiberglass trim. These stylish (some say "over-styled") wagons offer a lot for the current collector and driver, including a large carrying capacity for picnics or meets, and a short wheelbase and stiff-suspensioned ride that is said to be the best of any '58 Edsel. If you want an Edsel and your spouse wants a practical family car, then buy a 9-passenger and do some minivan-capacity hauling. The Villager for '58 ranks a close second, but forgoes the wood and fancier interiors of the Bermuda. The Villager's starkness makes it more like a sedan with a huge trunk. The two-door Roundup is even more basic than the Villager, and seems to have a fairly limited appeal. The functionality of the wagon body, combined with the relative inaccessability of having only two side doors, makes the Roundup almost an anachronism.


#2 '58 Citation Convertible THE biggest, heaviest, most option-laden Edsel ever made. If you get one "loaded", you'll have power seats, windows, steering, brakes, top, and lubrication, along with signal-seeking radio, air conditioning, tachometer, and much more. Everyone would love to own one, but not as many would like to restore, maintain - or even park - one of these. From what I know, nothing but the instrument cluster and the inner horsecollar ring interchanges with the smaller Edsels. And try to find parts for an E-475 engine today.


#1 '58 Pacer Convertible The Pacer is the car that Roy Brown (the designer of the Edsel) said came closest to his original design. It is well-proportioned, not too huge, and everybody loves a convertible. And, it has the definitive, memorable '58 look. Compared to the Citation convertible, this car is more serviceable (with the 361cid engine) and can run on regular gas. It was also more commonly available (1876 made) than the Citation (930 made), making parts easier to find. Overall, this seems what people want as the Edsel of their dreams.

I like most of these cars, but I certainly have my own personal "Top Ten" - as I'm sure you do, too. Maybe next month, at the risk of stepping on some toes, I'll put together my list of the Ten Least Desirable Edsel Models. Again, this is only what I think You think. See you then!!

The Ten Least Desirable Edsels

By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

At the risk of getting a lot of feedback "correcting" me on my choices, here I go with my list of the Ten Least Desirable Edsels that can be owned. Of course - EVERY Edsel is beautiful in our eyes! I know that. But, if you could choose any Edsel at all to fill your driveway, these would probably not be the first ones that you think of:

#10. Any all-White or all-Tan There are a lot of Edsels in which the paint doesn't match the data plate. On these cars, the correct color is usually EEE or NNN (58); E or H (59); or M or N (60). These White or Tan cars just aren't very exciting.(In some cases, they two-toned the white and tan, which isn't as bad) These colors are usually are accompanied by the most boring interiors Edsel ever made. You don't seek out a white or tan "end up" with one. I did. (NOTE: I almost added monotone green cars to this list. But, although they weren't necessarily pretty, they were pretty "Fifty-ish.")


#9. 1958 Ranger 4-door sedan It's a low-end Ranger. It's got four doors. There's a pillar between the doors and frames around the windows. There were only three interiors offered (green, blue, black). The dash has this dull aluminum plate behind the switches. Sound pretty boring? Frankly, it is.


#'s 7 and 8. 1960 2 or 4-door sedan These are the bottom-end cars for the final year. They have the sedate squared sedan rooflines. These two models represent two-thirds of 1960 production, so they're fairly plentiful. And as we know, the '60 is simply a Ford with a split grill and the taillights rotated a quarter turn. You gotta really want a '60 to want one of these.


#6. 1959 Ranger two-door sedan This is the second most produced Edsel ever made, at 7778 units. I see a lot of these in green and in white (see #10 above). Many are two-toned, but many are not. These probably made good cars for traveling salesmen. But, the miles would likely be high, because a salesman driving up in an Edsel would often be laughed at, and would have to make a lot of calls to get a sale.


#5. Any three-speed stick There are an unusually high number of stick-equipped Edsels out there. They win points for serviceability (you can still buy clutch kits at Schuck's) but it makes driving an Edsel more of a workout than it already is. A general lack of power steering and brakes on these cars doesn't help. Plus, third gear just doesn't seem quite high enough. However, the overdrive-equipped units are another matter. Supposedly only offered in '58 (but seen in later Edsels), these cars are wonderful cruisers, getting as much as 18 mpg with the 361, and even better with smaller engines.


#4. 1958 Ranger 2-door sedan In '58, they had eighteen models to choose from. This was the most basic Edsel for that year. Of the ones I have seen, they have little or no options and are generally (again) green or white. I don't know why. They seem to look best with blackwall tires, button hubcaps and body-colored rims.


#3. 1958 Roundup I discussed these cars a little bit in my "Most Desirable" list last time. I have yet to see many people clamoring for them. I personally like them, maybe because they are among the oddest of an odd make. Sure, they're the third-rarest '58, but when it comes down to it, they're just weird two-door wagons. And, because it shares its body with no other Edsel, you have to have a second Roundup for parts. Talk about double jeopardy!


#2. Any 1958 Corsair I hate to condemn an entire series like this, but frankly, why did Edsel make the '58 Corsair? It only came in two body styles. It's practically a Citation, minus the distinctive scallop insert. And today, when people are looking for a nice '58 restoration project, they either want a basic Ranger, a sporty Pacer, or an opulent, fully loaded Citation. Even new, few people wanted a Corsair; they only made up 14% of '58 production. No wonder they carried this name to the top-of-the-line '59; they had so many '58 Corsair fender scripts left over.


#1. 1959 Ranger 4-door sedan This is the highest production Edsel ever, at 12,814 units. And, it seems as if every single one of them survived. If there were a "typical" Edsel, this would be it. You can watch the Edsel ads in the Greenline or other old car publications and see '59 4S cars linger on, and on, and on until finally the ad disappears. I always hope that the car sold, instead of the owner pushing it off a cliff.

Now, I must admit that some of the most beautiful '59s I have ever seen (including many in this chapter) are Ranger 4S cars. But, unless it is immaculate or in great original shape, it's not a very desirable car. On the other hand, if you enjoy driving Edsels on a daily basis, then buy one and motor happily until it collapses. Then simply go and buy another since there are plenty more where that came from.

Well! That was an adventure! But, don't think I'm done yet. Next Month, We'll explore: The Ten Silliest Edsel Paint Names!

The Ten Silliest Edsel Paint Names

By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

A freshly-restored Edsel, done in it's original colors, is a beautiful, breathtaking sight. Just don't ask the owner the name of the color on his Edsel. It just might sour your admiration.

For example, Edsel really had a hard time with the color "pink." The '58 name was just poorly thought out. They tried to hide it in '59 by describing it as some shade of "red". They finally got it right in 1960 - they got rid of the color entirely.

Here are ten names that leave a little (or a lot) to be desired:

#10. Snow White (59-code E) This reminds me less of a winter wonderland and more of seven small men.


#9. Moonrise Grey (59-code B) Strange and kind of creepy. Maybe the car can only come out of the garage at night. During a full moon. On Halloween. Oooooooooooo.


#8. Sea Foam Green (60-code W) Maybe back in 1960 this name evoked a beautiful image, but after the Exxon Valdiz spill, I picture something entirely different.


#'s 6 and 7. Alaskan Gold Metallic (60-code H) and Hawaiian Blue (60-code F) These were named in honor of the 1959 admission of these two states. Not necessarily bad names, but it's an obviously strained attempt to fit the color to the name, when it should be the other way around.


#5. Jonquil Yellow (58-code Q) I'm probably the dumbest person on earth, but I did not know what a jonquil was. I do now - it's a yellow flower. Any name that has to be looked up in the dictionary is a bad name.


#4. Redwood Metallic (59-code D) An odd juxtaposition of terms, conjuring up conflicting images of a forest and of a foundry.


#3. Mist Green (59-code R) The words "green" and "mist" don't go together - they shouldn't go together. It sounds kind of evil, like that stuff wafting out of Dr. Frankenstein's beakers.


#2. Chalk Pink (58-code T) A custom color, that through a patented Edsel process is pre-oxidized at the factory. Say goodbye to that annoying "new car" shine forever! (Or so it's name seems to imply.)


#1. Talisman Red (59-code G) This exercise in self-deception is another outrageous example of how Edsel continually relied on "image" over substance. This pink color is no more "red" than the Edsel itself is a "revolutionary automotive breakthrough." However, both the color and the car itself are pretty nice, if only allowed to be simply what they are.

Ten Edsel Things to do in the Winter

By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

  • Get to know your Data Plate. It's truly fascinating what you can find out about your car, and all Edsels, by knowing the production codes. (Do you know the name of your paint color? How many different interiors were offered in your model Edsel?) What can really be neat is to find out that your car has a unique makeup that was not "officially" available from the factory. With Edsels, these cars are unusually common.

  • Clean your interior and upholestry - especially under the seats and between the cracks. This will also give you the chance to check for any tearing that might need repairs. These interior inspection tours also cause the mice to think twice about camping out in your seat cushions.

  • Wash and Wax your car. Admittedly, the washing can be a chilly affair. But, once your car is inside and dry, there is no better place to wax it. It is cool and out of the sunlight, as recommended by most all car wax manufacturers. Then, when that first spring day arrives, you simply have to back your car out and hit the road.

  • Have something chromed. If you are one of the few Edsel owners with perfect chrome, Congratulations! Otherwise, winter is the best time to pull chrome (or any part) off to have it worked on, since no one will be seeing your car anyway. And, it usually takes the length of the winter season to get anything back from the shop.

  • Rotate your tires. Yes, this may sound kind of trivial, but Edsels tend to log their miles so sporadically that it is better to do things on a time schedule than a mileage schedule. Rotating your tires once a year will make them last longer, as well as making you a much better maintenance person than me. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

  • Change your oil and all other critical fluids. This should actually be done at the beginning of the winter, because it is much better to leave clean oil in a crankcase than sludgy oil. Also check your power steering and brake fluid (a brake system fluid flush, as well as a full system inspection, is a VERY GOOD idea. The absolutely most important system on your Edsel is your brakes.) Feel free to flush and fill your coolant as well - I used a chemical flush on my car, and finally got rid of an annoying "toilet flushing' sound in my heater core. Without stock gauges to tell you when you're overheating, it's critical that you be sure all your systems are operating fully before you drive.

  • Make sure everything works. You may know that the engine, transmission and driver's door are operating smoothly, but have you tried anything else lately? Check all your interior and exterior lamps, all your window cranks, all your door locks and latches, your glove box door, your wipers, your Dial-A-Temp -- Everything! Replace, fix, or lublicate whatever needs it. Crawl under the dash and makes sure all the fuses are present and unblown. See what kind of fuses you need, so you can stock your toolbox. You and your car will be happier.

  • Start your car regularly and run it. I try to start mine once a month, but it is harder for those stored off my property. (Remember - the car must be allowed to get up to operating temperature before you shut it down, or else you will be doing more harm than good.) At the minimum, let it warm up in your well-ventilated garage (and run your automatic tranny through the gears to let those pumps work). At best, take your pride and joy for a spin. It won't melt in the rain, and we don't use salt on the roads in the Northwest, so you shouldn't worry. Since you're going to wash and wax it anyway (see above) it's no problem!

  • Re-pack your travel kit. This isn't your took box, but rather some specific things that your Edsel needs when it goes on any trip. A fire extinguisher is essential, but you will want to consider extra brake, power steering and hydraulic top fluid; motor oil and an extra filter; wipers and belts; extra electircal fuses and maybe a lamp or two; wheel bearing grease; coveralls and/or a ground blanket to lay on when working on your car; flashlight; polishes and waxes for that cruise-in you might happen to pass; and lots of towels and rags.

  • Re-read The Edsel Affair or any other information on Ford's Flop you may have. Whenever you get in your Edsel, you are the designated representative of ALL Edsel Owners everywhere, and people are going to have questions for you about your car, other cars, and the club. Knowing Edsel-ese allows you to answer even the toughest questions, and might even persuade someone to consider owning an Edsel just like yours. And that's what being a proud Edsel Owner and Club member is all about.

    Accessorizing your Edsel

    By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

    If you set out to cruise in '50s style, an Edsel is the best place to start. But, if you want the complete 1950's look and feel, you may want to consider buying some "odds and ends" that will complete the time warp effect. It's often the little details that will change people's reaction to your Edsel from "Neat!" to "WOW!"

    Let's start small and basic, and work our way up. Do you have an original owner's manual in the glove box? How about other Edsel dealer paperwork? A lot of this stuff can be found at swap meets, but you also need to check in and around wrecking yard cars - especially under the front seat. Having any Edsel literature in your car adds to the feeling of having just driven off the showroom floor. You can also carry a vintage magazine that contains "the ad which inspired you to go see your Edsel dealer." A really neat touch that everyone can see is an original dealer license plate frame declaring that your Ranger was purchased at Don Rasmussen Edsel or Tonkin Edsel! (It's true! They sold them!) These and other dealer giveaways add a lot of flavor to the styling of your car. I also like to carry vintage gas station give-aways like matchbooks, ice scrapers and road maps, which can be picked up for pennies if you shop a little.

    Do you want to save your interior? So did your original Edsel purchaser. That's why many items were available to protect your car and allow it to be fully used. Plastic seat covers were very common on new cars, and may still be available through J.C. Whitney. If you like to carry food or cold drinks, they used to do it with wicker baskets and all-metal coolers; both of these items can still be found at antique stores, or reproduced. Be sure original floormats are covering your carpets, and these also are out there in original or reproduction form.

    If you like to travel in your Edsel wagon, then a roof rack is a must. Most of these were aftermarket items, so style and size varies. You will not likely find a model exactly the same as your year Edsel, but that's not too important. If it is a good fit and the style is correct for the period, it will work. There are also many "clamp-on" racks from the '50s that could be used as well, though roof and gutter scratches are common with these.

    So, now your car looks great, but is it any more comfortable to drive? Here is where some simple, inexpensive add-ons can make a big difference. Hopefully, you haven's forgotten about curb feelers, which look kind of odd sticking out from your rocker panels but do wonders for saving your whitewalls. When stopped at a light, the low browline of the '58 and '59 roofs can make seeing the green light so hard that you see red! No problem - with a fan-shaped light diffuser mounted to the dash just in front of the instrument panel. And, you say you have no power steering? That's exactly why they created the Brody knob, which is a knob attached to one point on your steering wheel, letting you crank your wheel with one hand. This makes parking much easier! (Are these knobs now illegal? I've heard rumors, but I'm not sure.)

    For those serious about accessorizing, you may wish to tow something appropriate behind your car. Here is where a camp trailer works very nicely. If you want to go "all the way", then consider an Airstream or similarly-styled RV. Anything over 13 feet or so will likely require a class 3 hitch, which is expensive and may require some structural modification to your rear frame. But, the look and functionality of your car cannot be beat! With these trailers, you will also want to be confident of towing capacity - be sure to consider your engine size and transmission carefully. A much easier way to go is to get a vintage "teardrop"-type camping trailer. These are so light that they are rated as utility trailers, and are easy to maneuver and store. You can purchase reproductions of these today, or find an original that needs a little work. There were even some "tent" trailers being made in the '50s, so look around and see what you can find - the more unique, the better! Any trailer you buy can be used for it's intended purpose, or may simply serve as a picnic supply wagon or spare parts bin for long trips.

    At the last Car Show in October, Bob Gutmann's assorted "accessories", especially his teardrop trailer, garnered as much interest and attention as his freshly restored wagon. If you are going to stand out from the crowd and own an Edsel, why not really stand out and add all the goodies that make the package complete? It really makes being an Edsel owner and driver a whole lot more fun.


    Packing on those Extra Holiday Pounds

    By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

    It's incredible how those extra little pounds can add up, isn't it? Your '58 Edsel is no exception. If you want to figure out how much your car weighs, take the base weight of your car from the table directly below. Then, add those "extra pounds" from the Options table to get a total weight for your vehicle. I'll leave it to you to average in the weight of you and your passengers.

    1958 Ranger
    2-door sedan 3729 lbs.
    4-door sedan 3805 lbs.
    2-door hardtop 3724 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 3796 lbs.

    1958 Pacer
    4-door sedan 3826 lbs.
    2-door hardtop 3724 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 3857 lbs.
    Convertible 3909 lbs.

    1958 Corsair
    2-door hardtop 4134 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 4235 lbs.

    1958 Citation
    2-door hardtop 4136 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 4230 lbs.
    Convertible 4311 lbs.

    1958 Wagons
    Roundup 2-door 3761 lbs.
    Villager 6-pass. 3827 lbs.
    Villager 9-pass. 3900 lbs.
    Bermuda 6-pass. 3853 lbs.
    Bermuda 9-pass. 3919 lbs.

    Now, add the following weights for the options that your car has. Base Pacers, Rangers and wagons have 3-speed manual transmissions; Corsairs and Citations came only with pushbutton automatics, so don't add another 83 pounds to those cars!

    Automatic transmission (lever) +67 lbs.
    Automatic trans (pushbutton) +83 lbs.
    Overdrive transmission +30 lbs.
    Power steering +34 lbs.
    Power brakes +12 lbs.
    Air conditioning +115 lbs.
    Dual exhaust +32 lbs.
    Multi-luber +5 lbs.
    Power seat (4-way) +30 lbs.
    Power windows +15 lbs.
    Radio +11 lbs.
    Heater +26 lbs.
    Padded dash panel +9 lbs.
    Seat belts +4 lbs.
    Wheel covers +8 lbs.

    Amazing, ain't it!



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