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1960 Edsel


1960 Edsel Design

Even before the 1958 Edsel was introduced, serious work had started on a 1960 Edsel design that would have been radically different from the one that was eventually produced.

The 1960 Edsel Ranger boasted a new design but was still plagued by low sales.
The 1960 Edsel Ranger boasted a new design
but was still plagued by low sales.

The 1960 that might have been was the work of Roy Brown, who had designed the original Edsel. It got as far as a full-sized fiberglass model. Brown does not remember the exact dates, but says that in those days final design work was usually finished 24 months ahead of introduction, so his work on the 1960 model must have been completed just about the time the 1958 was introduced.
But the Edsel's underwhelming sales performance and the retrenchment that followed put an end to Brown's proposal. He was promoted to Chief of Design for Ford of Great Britain; in April 1958, the Executive Committee approved McNamara's plan to make the 1960 Edsel a Ford with an Edsel badge, a decision that meant Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln could let go of even more Edsel people than ever, especially designers and engineers.

The 1960 Ford began life as a design done in the Ford advanced design studio by designers who had no idea that their brainchild would come to be shared with Edsel. Dubbed the "Quicksilver," it was done on an entirely new chassis and was created for the purpose of exploring an all-new lower style of car.

When Henry Ford II saw it, he wanted to produce it, but on what was essentially the 1959 Ford chassis with a wheelbase stretched one inch to 119 inches. The results were less than satisfactory.

"There were horrendous problems as they had to raise the whole car about two inches, the side, the belt moldings, the peak, and so on, and when you do that you change the car," said Joe Oros, head of the Ford design studio at the time. "It is never the same and that is what happened to that car."

With Roy Brown dispatched to England, the task of creating a new 1960 Edsel as economically as possible fell to the late I.B. "Bud" Kaufman. Kaufman was an honored detail man and had worked closely with Brown on many of the feature and trim items for the 1958 and 1959 Edsels. To this day Brown and his family declare the two men were the best of friends.

With a couple of hundred thousand dollars at his disposal, Kaufman was to take the designs for the 1960 Ford Fairlane, Starliner, Sunliner, and Country Sedan station wagon and transform them into Edsels. Kaufman had a genius for giving cars a maximum of new looks with a minimum of cash outlay. Only one major piece of unique sheetmetal was necessary for the 1960 Edsel, the hood. Two smaller panels were created for the upper rear quarter panels.

Due to his friendship with Brown, Kaufman tried to keep the original front end styling theme alive by using a bold, yet simple, vertical chrome impact bar running up into the hood to bisect the twin-grille arrangement he had selected.

However, this thematic feature was scrapped in favor of a centerpiece design that resembled a chrome-plated hourglass and gave the front a look somewhat reminiscent of the 1959 Pontiac.

In the center was placed a small green shield referred to in Edsel parlance as the "pickle." Diecast trim was featured in the egg-crate grilles and outwardly mounted round turn/parking light nacelles.

From the rear, the 1960 Edsel Ranger was similar to other 1960 Ford models.
From the rear, the 1960 Edsel Ranger was similar
to other 1960 Ford models.

At the rear, the car's 1960 Ford heritage was visible even though the Edsel's taillights were large ovals set on end, and mounted in heavy chrome diecast bezels, as opposed to the Ford's "setting sun" semicircles set in the rear panel.

From the rear, all of Kaufman's 1960 Edsels were to have shared the same sheetmetal and bright trim. On the sides, though, the Ranger and Corsair series proposals differed in trim applications.

The Ranger used a single spear of stainless steel that started mid-fender just behind the front fender wheel opening and slowly arced down to the lower leading tip of the rear bumper.

To differentiate the bodysides of the proposed 1960 Corsair series, Kaufman created a second spear extending from the top of the rear bumper and moving forward to join with the tip of a trim piece like that on the Ranger. Vertically lined anodized aluminum panels filled the area in between.

The fancier trim design went for naught.

"In July of 1959, [Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln General Manager] Ben Mills declared that the 1960 Edsel would be marketed only in the Ranger series and with two station wagons, the Villagers," said Leo Beebe, who headed up Edsel public relations beginning in October 1957. "It was a last-minute decision to delete the Corsair series at that time."

As a result, the model line included a hardtop sedan, two- and four-door sedans, a hardtop coupe, and, for the first time, a Ranger convertible. The Villager wagons were six- and nine-passenger models. All rode 120-inch wheelbases.

Special contoured seats and upgraded interior door panels had already been ordered for installation in Corsairs. In an effort to recoup the investment, they were packaged as a deluxe interior option for Ranger closed cars.

For more on the 1960 Edsel, continue on to the next page.

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