How Many Different Model Cars did Edsel Manufacture

Ice Green 1958 Edsel Ranger Ford Paint Code M0688
Ice Green 1958 Edsel Ranger Ford Paint Code M0688. Photo by Mark Gittelman

We all know the Edsel wasn't exactly a success story. On the classic car channel we have a great article that outlines the 6 major reasons the Edsel legacy is one of failure. Although people like to focus on the shortcomings of the automobile additional information about the individual models offered by the company is scarce.

Here we'll discuss the 7 distinctive models offered by the Edsel car company. Note that a few collectors consider the 1960 Ranger convertible as a separate model. This pushes the total to 8. We will also cover this car separately as it's known as the rarest of all Edsel automobiles with a total production of just 76 units.

The E-day Campaign Launches the Edsel

The first official model year for Edsel cars is 1958. Naturally, they started building these units in 1957. As the launch day approached an advertising agency began a campaign to raise awareness and excitement about the new car line. Some say the ad agency was so effective, they actually contributed to the ultimate failure of the company.

They started out with 30 second television spots that didn't even highlight the car, just the words "the Edsel is coming." Finally they showed shadow profiles and close-ups of the hood ornament as the launch grew closer. At the unveiling, E-Day, Sept. 4, 1957, most consumers felt nothing, but disappointment and didn't buy the car.

After the official launch Ford spent a ton of money on the Edsel TV show in an effort to turn things around. The entertainment program featured megastars like Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and more. The one hour live broadcast premiered Oct. 13, 1957, in prime time.

The show aired about 5 weeks after E-day and sales did improve going forward. Despite the disappointing launch of the 1958 models this would be the biggest year for units sold in the company's history.

The Strongest Year for the Edsel

Edsel sold more than 53,500 total cars in 1958. This would account for almost half of the vehicles built during the company's entire life span. During this inaugural launch year they offered 7 different model names. The Edsel Citation turned in the second highest number of units sold the first year.

It was also the largest in size and the most expensive at $3500. They made the Citation available in three different body configurations. This included a 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan and a 2-door convertible. The convertible option added $266 to the price tag.

The next model in the lineup is the Edsel Corsair. This unit wasn't available in the convertible format. However, you could get it in a 2-door Coupe and a 4-door hardtop. This vehicle shared the same overall length and wheelbase as the Citation. However, the reduction in trim offerings brought the price down to $3300. There is very little difference between the two models as far as the exterior appearance.

The Smaller Sized Edsel Cars

The 1958 Edsel Pacer is a slightly smaller automobile. But it's still big by any stretch of the imagination. The Pacer is almost 5 inches shorter than the larger models and also 1 inch smaller in width. This car added yet another convertible option to the lineup. In addition to the ragtop, you could get a 4-door hardtop, 2-door Coupe and a 4-door sedan. Only 1,800 Pacer convertibles sold in 1958.

Next up is the company’s best selling model of all time. The 1958 Edsel Ranger is also the featured picture for this article. Once again the company offered it in a two and 4-door hardtop or sedan style. The main difference in these two configurations is the set up of the rear glass and rear pillars. The hardtop looks more like a solid roof convertible and the sedan had a more formal look. The Ranger shared the same length, width and wheelbase with the Pacer.

The Edsel Station Wagons

The wagons the company rolled out were about 8 inches shorter than the passenger cars. Edsel built three different configurations and each received their own model name. The cars offered different seating options and levels of trim. The number of doors and the base prices also differed between the three. The least expensive of these is the Edsel Villager.

You could order this 4-door station wagon with an optional third seat. This meant the car could carry 6 people or you could turn it into a 9 passenger with the ability to carry the whole family for an additional $20. The 9 passenger station wagon is another extremely limited production unit as they built less than 1,000 in total.

The Edsel Bermuda station wagon is an upscale 6 or 9-passenger version of the Villager. It included a few luxury options like front and rear color-keyed floor mats and exterior styling features not available on the base wagon. The large three-dimensional wood trim side panels are the most visually prominent difference between the two. The Mercury division of Ford would also use these wood panels on the Colony Park Station wagon.

The Bermuda was the most expensive wagon model with a base price of $3200. The third wagon in the lineup was a sharp looking two door. The company called it the Edsel Roundup. Clearly, they built this car to compete with the Chevrolet Nomad station wagons.

The Roundup represented the least expensive station wagon with a base price around $2,800. Despite the low price tag it was the worst selling car in the entire product line for 1958. On the flip side, Edsel built this 2-door variant in small numbers totaling around 900, making this the most collectible Edsel wagon.

The Last 2 Years of the Edsel

After disappointing sales in 1958 the company decided to trim its offerings going forward. They went from 7 separate names down to just 3 models. The survivors included the Villager wagon, the Ranger and the luxurious Corsair model. Note that the Corsair was only $200 more than the Ranger in 1959.

However, this was considered a lot of money at the time. Therefore, they sold more Rangers than any other model. The Ford Motor Company decided to pull the plug on Edsel in 1960. Although the 1960 cars would mark the end of the company, they actually stopped building them in November 1959. The last year for the failed automobile looks completely different from the first two years of manufacturing. Most notably, the iconic vertical, oval-shaped grille disappeared.

The sheet metal also appeared longer and lower providing a slick, clean look. They further enhanced this appearance by adding chrome rear fender skirts. My favorite exterior feature on the 1960 Edsel is the upper chrome trim that flows from the front bumper back to the rear taillights. In my opinion these changes could have changed the game. However, it was too late.

Most Valuable Edsel Motor Cars

The most collectible cars from the short lived company are the 1960 Edsel Ranger Convertibles. With just 76 total units built, these cars can pull down well over $100,000 in a private sale. In an auction situation, biding wars between motivated buyers can push the price over $150,000.

How Much did Ford Lose on the Edsel

It's rumored that Ford losses totaled $300 million on the failure of the Edsel line of cars. A large chunk of this, around $250 million, came in the development stages before they sold a single automobile. When analyzing the many different things that helped destroy the company, we should always remember the giant hole they started with.

Although the company is gone they were not forgotten. In fact, some of the model names resurfaced many years later. Of course the American Motors Corp used the Pacer name in the 70s. The Chevrolet division of General Motors used the Citation moniker for its revolutionary X body front wheel drive car in the 1980s. Even Ford used a name when they launched the Corsair as a British built model in 1964.