Video of the Day: The short, failed existence of Edsel

In-depth documentary tells the story of Ford’s most famous disaster

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The Edsel's controversial 'horse-collar' grille

No automotive nameplate evokes such visions of abject failure as Edsel, the Ford midrange brand that became synonymous with awkward styling, poor quality and over-the-top marketing. 

This 30-minute video presented by Ruairidh MacVeigh, tells the story of Edsel, from its planning stages to its unseemly demise after just four model years.  With his cultured British accent, MacVeigh presents an in-depth examination of the brand and why it crashed and burned so miserably, and cost Ford Motor Company an absolute fortune in losses.  

Edsel fans and collectors, and there are quite a few of you out there, might fault the unrelentingly negative tone of this video, titled “The Short-Lived and Expensive Tale of Ford’s Edsel,” although the basic facts are hard to dispute.  There are some historical glitches in the presentation, such as pointing out the Austin America from the UK as a compact leader of the era, despite its not being produced until a decade later.

The period film clips and photos are fun to see, although sometimes repetitious. MacVeigh is scrupulous in crediting where the clips and pictures originated, a rarity in online video presentations.

There is some fascinating information in here.  Such as – and this is true – when Edsel ran a bizarre promotion in which anyone taking a test drive would be entered in a contest to win a live pony.  About 1,000 ponies were delivered to dealers nationwide.

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There were few takers, and the Edsel dealerships found themselves saddled with the task of caring for the unwanted ponies.  They were eventually shipped back to Michigan.

Weird stuff, but just part of the tale of the failed Ford with the horse-collar grille.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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