On This Date

On September 4, 1957 -- fifty years ago today -- one of the most spectacular lessons in corporate planning, marketing, and promotional ballyho kicked off.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Edsel.

1958 Edsel Pacer

1958 Edsel Bermuda

What started out as the idea of a revolutionary new car with space-age design and new technology turned out to be an overpriced and technically flawed -- not to mention radically over-the-top styled -- mid-level and rebadged Ford. In spite of millions of dollars in research, market testing, and confidence that the consumer would buy just about whatever the manufacturer would put out there, the Edsel became synonymous with disaster, and in spite of redesigns in the following two model years that rendered it basically indistinguishable from other Fords, the plug was pulled in November 1959. The lone survivor was the Comet, which was supposed to be Edsel's entry into the compact market; it later became a Mercury model and sold quite well along with the Ford Falcon.

It was a terrible loss for Ford, but they seemed to learn the lesson; less than seven years later, almost without meaning to, they launched a true revolution with the introduction of the Mustang, which was little more than a new body style on a tried-and-true Falcon chassis.

1966 Mustang

All I can say is "Whew."

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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