November 9, 1960: Robert McNamara becomes president of Ford Motor Company just one day after John F. Kennedy is elected President of the United States.
He may have only held automotive office for a handful of weeks before becoming JFK’s Secretary of Defense, but McNamara’s legacy at Ford is everlasting. However, after saving the company from its own ill-planned and cannibalistic Edsel division, he later created an Edsel of his own in the Vietnam War.
When I noticed Michael Beschloss did a piece on the failure of the Edsel, I thought it was pretty cool that a historian of his reputation would write about cars. Beschloss is better known for writing about U.S. presidents than automobiles.
After reading his piece in the New York Times, Hubris, and Sputnik, Doomed the Edsel, I’m less impressed with his reputation. (Read More…)
Editor’s note: Ladies and gentlemen, for one night only, it’s the return of Curbside Classics to TTAC. You can catch Paul Niedermeyer’s work (along with contributions from an ever expanding crew of TTAC commenters and more) on a regular basis at the new Curbside Classics site. But this piece? It just had to be on TTAC.
There’s a big difference between creating and re-creating. The proto-hot rodders of yore scoured the junk yards for new solutions, not to replicate. The competition was as much in creativity as it was pure speed. Much of that has given way to endless replication, whether it’s a perfect restoration or a 1000 hp resto-mod. But creative juices are irrepressible, and they were certainly at work here. Want a daily driver Edsel, but not its 1950′s fuel-gulping ways? The solution was just a $200 junkyard engine away. But it had to be imagined first. Now that’s creativity, and a harbinger of the future. Which is exactly what the old car hobby needs: a new model, like this “Eco-Boost” Edsel.
How cool does a junkyard car have to be before we acknowledge that it’s just too far gone to return to street duty? A first-year Edsel wagon? Very, very cool. This one, however, appears to have been baking/freezing in a Great Plains field for a few decades, and there isn’t a whole lot of Edsel-ness left. Still, such cars allow us to contemplate Ford’s Edsel Nightmare. (Read More…)
This faithful TTAC writer enjoys his break from reality to be a judge at the 24 Hours of LeMons. That said, a perk to having the great Murilee Martin on board is that my LeMons coverage now embellishes his: take a look at the ’58 Edsel Ranger pace car we “procured” from a race team.
One thing about the “rat rod” school of design is how great it makes an otherwise junky heap look in the hearts and minds of most bystanders. An ugly flat black paint job on one of the ugliest cars known to man is a Reeses peanut butter cup of automotive design! That said, the 1970s forged (yes really) Lincoln mag wheels and 390 V8 from a ’67 Ford Galaxie make the theme cooler than cool. And the white shag carpet seemingly taken from Dirk Digler’s rumpus room? Why not, it’s Rat Rod!
Also note the wicked body roll in turn one here at MSR Houston. And yes, that’s during pace car laps! Which begs the question, maybe we need more Rat Rod themed rides in Lemons?
Even in Eugene, where Curbside Classics miraculously soldier along on the streets for decades beyond their normal life expectancy, the forces of entropy cannot be forestalled forever. If it’s still running enough to get there, you could donate it to the official CC Sales Lot, and pass that slipping and leaking transmission on to the next sucker loving owner. But when the tow truck has to be called, Judgment Day has arrived. Will you pony up and put yourself that much deeper under water? Or will it end up at the Pick and Pull, donating its vital organs to keep its kin on the road a bit longer? But for the chosen few, there’s one other alternative: the Curbside Classic Graveyard, where it may rust (superficially) in peace until the second coming of Henry Ford (or his only begotten Son Edsel). (Read More…)