Dealers were not at all receptive to selling the Edsel, resulting in shockingly low 1960 Edsel sales. When they first saw it, presumably a month or so before introduction, they simply did not order the cars.
1960 Edsel model-year production didn't even
last into the 1960 calendar year.
This got Henry Ford II off the hook. If the dealers wouldn't accept the Edsel, then he no longer had to honor his commitment to produce it. The last 1960 Edsel, the 2,846th built, rolled off the Louisville line in November 1959. Total 1960 Edsel production was not even one day's production for Ford.
Some will argue that a 1960 Edsel could have sold in sufficient numbers to be profitable. Dealer support -- or lack of it -- does not uphold that thesis. Others will say an Edsel continued into 1961 and 1962 might have recovered earlier losses.
But where would the market have been? In 1961 and 1962, both the Ford and Mercury shared the same body. Ford could hardly have sold three different makes based on the same body shell.
McNamara knew what would sell and what wouldn't, and he was usually right. Although often criticized for not being a "car guy" (it has been suggested he actually disliked the auto business), McNamara made some monumentally correct decisions while at Ford.
The fancier Fairlanes he put up in 1957 helped Ford outsell Chevrolet; the 1958 four-seater Thunderbird nearly doubled annual sales compared to the two-place Thunderbird it replaced; the straight-laced 1959 Ford outsold the batwing Chevrolet; and the conservative 1960 Falcon compact, the kind of no-frills vehicle McNamara preferred, was Ford's biggest success since the Model T.
The 1960 Edsel shared the same body shell
as other 1960 Fords.
It has been written time and again that McNamara Fords looked like the man himself, wearing granny glasses and with their hair parted down the middle. But Joe Oros has pointed out that McNamara flourished at Ford because he made decisions that made the Ford Motor Company millions and millions of dollars.
If you go along with Oros's thesis that McNamara made the right marketing decisions for Ford, then you have to conclude that his opposition to the Edsel was correct. He loathed losers, and he spotted the Edsel as one from the get-go.
Who were the winners and losers in the Edsel saga? In some cases, the answer is clear-cut; in others, it is more obscure. In any case, 1960 marked the end for the Edsel. For more, continue to the next page.
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