The 1958 Edsel Citation is widely considered one of the biggest
automotive failures. See more pictures of classic convertibles.
Edsel was conceived in boom-market 1955 to bridge the large price gap between Ford and Mercury, part of Ford Motor Company's grand strategy for competing with General Motors toe-to-toe. But with the usual lead times, Edsel didn't appear until 1958, by which time the medium-price market was tanking. Worse, these "new" cars weren't that different from what wasn't selling already.
A '58 Edsel was either upmarket Ford (Ranger, Pacer, and station wagon) or slightly downmarket Mercury (Corsair and Citation). Styling was Edsel's own and not bad for '58, but a daring "horse collar" vertical grille prompted snickers, shock, or both. There were expected gimmicks like a revolving-drum speedometer and "Teletouch Drive" automatic transmission with pushbuttons in the steering-wheel hub. Otherwise, the '58 Edsels were familiar FoMoCo fare.
Convertibles were restricted to Ford-based Pacer and Mercury-based Citation models, the latter the costliest '58 Edsel at $3801. The Citation used a 410-cubic-inch version of Ford's then-new big-block V-8 with a healthy 345 horsepower; the Pacer a 303-bhp 361. All Edsels had plenty of go, but not the handling and braking to match. Add in frequently "casual" workmanship, and it's little wonder that only a little over 63,000 were sold. Ford had hoped for 100,000-plus. Among them were 1876 open Pacers and just 930 ragtop Citations.
The 1958 Edsel Citation suffered from gimmicky gadgets and drab styling.
With that, only Ford-based cars returned for '59, but sales kept sliding. For Edsel it was already too late.
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