Ford looks to the future with New Edsel

Published on 4/1/2021 2:20:02 PM

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Ford Motor Co. has decided to bring back a piece of its storied past by creating the New Edsel brand of premium automobiles, starting with the 2024 models.  Spurred by the success of other retro brands, Ford will introduce the New Edsel cars with some of the controversial styling touchstones – such as the “horse collar” grille center – of the cars produced by Ford from 1958 to 1960. 

The New Edsel brand will join Ford and Lincoln in the Dearborn, Michigan, company’s lineup.  While both Ford and Lincoln have become dedicated to producing SUVs and trucks, leaving Mustang as the company’s only passenger car, the automaker sees an opening for an old-school large car that resumes the styling of the original Edsel lineup.

Unique styling details will be reborn in the New Edsel, Ford says | Bob Golfen

While critics are warning that Ford could be setting itself up for another Edsel fiasco, company officials contend that that public is finally ready for the Edsel after more than 60 years serving as a punchline.

“Edsel was way too far ahead of its time,” said Anne Iacocca – granddaughter of the famed auto marketeer Lee Iacocca – who will head the New Edsel division.  “People in those days did not appreciate the subtle styling or the amazing features that should have made Edsel a leading brand.  Today’s consumers are more sophisticated, so New Edsel cars should easily find their place in America’s driveways.

“My grandfather was a great judge of the automotive market, and he certainly would have approved of Ford reviving the Edsel nameplate.  Just look at what he did for the K Cars at Chrysler.”

A custom 1958 Edsel Ranger built by Bobby Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop could inspire New Edsel design | Hot Rod Shop

The New Edsel cars will incorporate some of the magic of the original Edsels, Ford says, from the distinctive grille – which was maligned back then as “sucking a lemon” – to the push-button gear selector in the center of the steering wheel, which critics had thought was hopelessly awkward but that today’s drivers should appreciate.

The stylists foresee a strong resemblance to the original 1958 Edsel, perhaps with station wagon models enhanced with faux-wood siding. The bodies also will be adorned with elaborate chrome trim. 

And despite the industry trend toward clean tailpipe emissions and fuel efficiency, the New Edsels will be powered by large-displacement V8 engines with scant regard for mileage or cleanliness.

“We know there are many drivers out there who long for the power and acceleration of a big, high-torque V8 in a real full-size car, just like the old days,” Iacocca added.

Sedans, wagons and convertibles like this 1958 Pacer will be offered | Mecum Auctions

The cars will be built just like in the old days, too, with heavy steel bodies affixed to massive girder frames, although the designers hope to keep the weight under 5,500 pounds.  Power will be transmitted to solid live axles at the rear. 

“The name might be nostalgic, but the New Edsel will be the car of tomorrow, built today just as they were in the past,” Iacocca said.

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