Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
The car model Edsel was named after Henry Ford’s only son, Edsel Bryant Ford. Between three years, 1957 and 1960, only 118,287 actually sold, even though the car was modified each year. No car Henry Ford had ever designed had ever sold this poorly. Less and less were purchased every year, until Ford decided to discontinue production in 1960.
The reason people weren’t buying the car was because it had an unappealing look, and it did not have a catchy name. The horse collar grill on the front - meant to be recognizable from a distance - looked more like a toilet seat than a new gotta-getta flare on the car. As for the name, Edsel was not as appealing as the Thunderbird, another car model of Ford’s that had boomed.
The ads promoting the Edsel focused on its smooth ride, its ‘teletouch’ steering wheel, and its electronic pop-up trunk. But when people went to go see the car for themselves, it wasn’t as attractive as it was on their TV screen.
We still sometimes see Edsels on the highway, and they’re always nicely kept-up and prettily painted, but it is also a vivid reminded of Ford’s biggest failure.