The folks at TIME recently brought up the famous flop and explained it in depth. To start, research and planning took 10 years and cost Ford $250 million. Their spending meant that it was going to have to explode and outsell all other cars in 1957 just to be profitable. Sort of doomed from the beginning. But, with 18 models to choose from and what some deemed “the right personality” this looked like a win for Ford and the family purchasing the Edsel. Sadly, before the first year was up, the sales had dropped by about a third.
So what led to the demise? The TIME report details what was just a combination of bad timing, bad luck, and poor market research for Ford,
“After the decision was made in 1955, Ford ran more studies to make sure the new car had precisely the right “personality.” Research showed that Mercury buyers were generally young and hot-rod-inclined, while Pontiac, Dodge and Buick appealed to middle-aged people. Edsel was to strike a happy medium. As one researcher said, it would be “the smart car for the younger executive or professional family on its way up.” To get this image across, Ford even went to the trouble of putting out a 60-page memo on the procedural steps in the selection of an advertising agency, turned down 19 applicants before choosing Manhattan’s Foote, Cone & Belding. Total cost of research, design, tooling, expansion of production facilities: $250 million.
A Taste of Lemon. The flaw in all the research was that by 1957, when Edsel appeared, the bloom was gone from the medium-priced field, and a new boom was starting in the compact field, an area the Edsel research had overlooked completely.”
But still being able to see these today always brings a smile to our face. They are still sought after by collectors and aficionados alike, and when you catch one in the wild, it’s easy to see why.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by John Gibson.