Edsel: Fifty years since Ford's fabulous flop

Fifty years ago this year, Ford spent a lot of money on consultants who told them car buyers would pay a premium for "the smart car for the younger executive or professional family on its way up."

We all know what happened. Ford designed what was internally known as the "E-Car," and set about trying to name it. After more expensive consultants failed to aptly name the car, Ford asked poet Marianne Moore for ideas. She suggested Mongoose Civique and Utopian Turtletop, which were less than acceptable for Ford's super secret new car.

No, Ford's "revolutionary" new car, designed by focus groups, committees and market research, deserved a name that could come from only one method. Brown-nosing.

An employee of Ford's ad agency had suggested the name Edsel for the car in tribute to Henry Ford's son, who had died in 1943. Edsel wasn't considered a candidate, however, until Ford's chairman of the board, Ernest Breech, asked at a meeting, "Why don't we just call it Edsel?" Ford's PR director at the time now says it wasn't a stroke of genius, but instead an attempt to win favor with the Ford family.

The Washington-Post story is a fascinating read, with little tidbits of automotive history you may never have heard and insight into how cars were designed and marketed in the late 1950s.

[Source: The Washington-Post]

Share This Photo X