When you’re asked to think of the biggest car flop of all time and the ugliest car ever made, there’s one car that is most likely to come to mind.
The 1958 Ford Edsel (officially known as the Edsel Ranger).
The car has ended up on countless lists of the world’s ugliest cars and has become synonymous with failure. The Washington Post called it The Flop Heard Round the World.
The Edsel did fail upon its introduction, but that’s not necessarily because it was a bad car. It failed because of bad marketing.
Ford over-promised on the Edsel and over-hyped the car to the point of unrealistic expectations. When it was finally revealed, the public was left with the bitter taste of disappointment and turned their backs on the car that Ford had spent the equivalent of $2 billion to develop.
More than 50 years later, though, the Edsel might finally be cool.
There are fan clubs popping up all around the world dedicated to the preservation of the Edsel. Perhaps even more interesting was the Edsel I saw parked on the side of a quiet residential street yesterday.
“Did you see that?” my wife asked.
“I sure did,” I replied.
“What was it?” she inquired.
“That, my dear, was a Ford Edsel, the car mocked as the biggest automotive flop of all time and quite possibly the ugliest car ever built.”
“Really?” she replied, “I kind of liked it.”
I questioned my prescribed response to the Edsel. It has the classic lines of cars from 1950s America including a giant grille, a huge back end, and a rear bumper that could double as a swim platform. Maybe the Edsel’s history is uglier than the car itself.
Sitting in today’s modern world, the Edsel has that retro-cool look that collectors should pine after.
Yes, the Edsel could finally be cool after nearly six decades of ridicule.
That made me wonder about other automotive failures. How long before the 2003 Subaru Baja becomes a collectible relic from a bygone era? When will the 2001 Pontiac Aztec outgrow its cult status and become a sought-after symbol of the early 2000s?
Cars that are laughed at today could end up as tomorrow’s collectibles. Which would you like to own?