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Edsel

In the 1950s Ford identified customers that they had so far not supplied, classed as rising young professionals, who fitted into two market segments; between Ford and Mercury, and between Mercury and Lincoln. In spite of various unusual names being suggested, in the end it was named after Henry Ford's son, Edsel. who had died of stomach cancer in 1943. The first models were launched in August 1957 for the 1958 season, with the aim of selling 200,000 per year. The new model would not have its own factory; the smaller Pacer and Ranger would be built in Ford plants, the larger Citation and Corsair in Mercury plants. There were also Bermuda station wagons and Roundup pickups. Quality control issues dogged early Edsels and distracted buyers even after they were fixed. Sales were disappointing; the 'horse-collar' shaped grille was said to have put buyers off because it looked like the female pudenda. The front end was redesigned, but sales didn't recover. In 1959 there were only two models, the Corsair and Ranger, and for 1960 the central grille was deleted, replaced by a Pontiac-esque split grille fronting a body similar to the current Ford Galaxie on the Ranger and Villager. Only 118,000 Edsels were built in three model years (fewer than 3,000 in 1960) instead of the predicted 600,000. Ford President Robert McNamara decided to abandon the Edsel project: Ford lost their investment of $350m. A planned edsel model, the Comet, was retained, and gained its own sub-marque. The styling of the Edsel got most of the blame for its failure; designer Roy Brown Jr was moved to Ford UK, where he was responsible for the 'aspirational' Consul Classic. He was also responsible for the highly successful Cortina, and returned to the USA to work on the Thunderbird and the Econoline van.
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