1958 Edsel Citation

It wasn't the first "wrong car at the wrong time," but the 1958 Edsel Citation was the biggest flop of them all. Indeed, the very name has become synonymous with failure.

1958 edsel citation
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.

1958 edsel citation
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.

For more classic convertibles of the 1950s, see:

1950 Oldsmobile 88

1955 Cadillac Series 62

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

1951 Chrysler New Yorker

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Lincoln Premiere

1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan

1955 Mercury Montclair

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88

1951 Rambler Custom Landau

1956 Ford Thunderbird

1958 Continental Mark III

1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta

1956 Lincoln Premiere

1959 Cadillac Series 62

1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham

1956 Packard Caribbean

1959 Dodge Custom Royal

1954 Packard Caribbean

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1959 Ford Thunderbird

1955 Buick Century

1957 Chrysler New Yorker

1959 Pontiac Bonneville

For more information on all kinds of cars, try these:

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