1 of 1812: 1959 Edsel Corsair

In college marketing classes around the country, the Edsel failure often comes up as part of a case study. While it certainly was not a great car, it wasn’t a bad car either. Ford’s marketing research missed the mark and the car was launched during an economic recession, so car sales in general were off. This 1959 Corsair from the Edsel’s second year of production appears well-preserved, but the seller does not have the title so any interested buyer should check on how to handle getting it titled in their state. Riverhead, New York is where this Edsel is located and the no reserve auction here on eBay sits at $5,100.

In the mid-1950s, Ford felt there was a gap in their product portfolio and launched the Edsel to take sales away from General Motors and Chrysler. The car would be a standalone brand with its own dealer network but would share production capabilities with Ford and Mercury. At the launch in 1958, Edsel had four models: smaller Ford-based Pacers and Rangers and larger Mercury-base Citations and Corsairs. They would pare them down later to two and then just one. In the beginning, Edsels offered several gee-whiz features that wouldn’t be found later as the cars became more like their Ford and Mercury counterparts. That included a rolling-dome speedometer and the push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel. Edsel sales proved to be half of what Ford projected and they pulled the plug early into the 1960 model year after losing a bundle.

While the seller has paperwork from the previous owner, COVID-19 precautions have prevented a title transfer at the local DMV, according to the seller. That’s his rationale for the bill of sale-only transaction. We believe the previous owner would have been the car’s second owner, who acquired it in 2004 and put few miles on it in the last 16 years. 65,000 is claimed to be the accurate mileage on this beautiful car, being the 4-door hardtop for which only 1,812 were made in 1959.

The seller says there is no rust or rot on the body of this machine and the paint shines up well. The photos supplied tend to support that. The rear bumper is the only exception. The chrome and body trim look good, but there is some pitting on one of the door handles. The interior looks excellent with no obvious flaws to fret over. The combination of two-tone green works well together.

Mechanically, there are some things to be attended to. The 361 V-8 runs well, but only a spare can. The gas tank was emptied some years ago, so there must be a flow problem between the tank and the carburetor. There are no working brakes as the peddle goes to the floor, with the seller surmising they need to be bled. The transmission shifts smoothly and its column-shifted, not from the center of the steering wheel. Parked alongside a 1959 Ford Galaxie, they look quite similar.

Hagerty pegs these at close to $20,000 in excellent condition, and it might not take much to get this car to that level. Being the smaller production 4-door HT, this classic should fetch a few more dollars. Edsel sold about 47,000 Corsairs in 1959, but many of them are long gone by now. I’m glad to see that this one has survived. Thank you, Edsel Club!

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Comments

  1. Chris in Pineville

    the only thing cooler than this would be a ’58 in the same green…..

    Like 6
  2. Leland

    These got a bad rap. Pretty cool car back in the day. Okay, they were a little over priced, plus they came out during an economic slow down and never caught on. Trust me, there were far worse cars back then.

    Like 17
    • christopher swift

      That’s why I can never understand the general mockery of their design. I guess the front grill was a little much, but compared to what else was being designed it’s fairly mild.

      Like 11
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    You have to add the fact that they had a bunch of power and really moved for as heavy as they are.

    Like 7
  4. Howard A Member

    I thought the Edsel was a beautiful car. Even though, I never rode in one, my old man would never own a Ford, for reasons we won’t get into here. Here’s MY Edsel story.( some may have heard this) Back in the late 70’s, drove a truck and delivered a load of fertilizer to a big farm in central Ill. There were a few cars out front, but I was more concerned with dumping the load. A young girl came out to meet me, she said to dump it “round back”. As I went around back, there had to be 100 cars, no lie,,,,then it dawned on me, they were ALL EDSELS! Every shape and color ,,,and condition you could think of. After I dumped the load, the girl signed my ticket, I said, “boy, someone sure likes Edsels”,,she said, “yeah, that’s my dad, he’s up in Petacontica(?) right now buying 2 more”,,, I always wondered what happened to all those Edsels.
    Ron Howard drove a similar green ’58 Corsair in American Graffiti. Apparently George Lucas liked them too.

    Like 14
    • Bob C.

      Hi Howard, Don Knotts seemed to be an Edsel man too. He drove a blue 1958 convertible when he returned to Mayberry. Also, he had another one in The Ghost and Mr Chicken. I believe that one was a 58 coupe.

      Like 10
      • 2ManyCars1

        Yes, The Ghost and Mr Chicken Edsel was a Citation two door hardtop with the impact ring missing from the center grille. If you watch closely you can see Don activating the teletouch buttons when he whips the car around to go back to where Calver Weems (Hal Smith aka Otis Campbell) has been found supposedly dead. Lots of Mayberry actors in this movie!

        Like 2
      • Ted Miller

        Growing up had a neighbor that had a collection of Edsels, my favorite was a white convertible with pier windows!

    • KarlS

      Steve (Ron Howard) drove a 58 Impala. His girlfriend Laurie (Cindy Williams) drove the Edsel.

      Like 4
    • Wflyer50

      Ummm no in American Graffiti It was a 58 Chevy.

      Like 1
  5. Tempo Matador Ray

    The technology alone in these proved testament to future concept possibilities…

    Like 5
  6. George Richardson

    Had 2 58’s (needed 1 for parts) Not a bad car really.
    NY does not require a title for a vehicle this old. “Transferable registration” only. DMV will process at “drop-off” offices. Bill of sale and VIN verification by a LEO will work.

    Like 4
  7. Richard Van Dyke Sr

    I always liked the looks and worked for a guy that had 4 gray Edsels parked back of the gas station hhe owned.

    Like 3
  8. Steve

    Why can’t sellers fix what needs fixing before offering a car for sale, like bleeding the brakes? I don’t get it.

    Like 6
    • ken tilly UK Member

      Because it most likely needs a lot more than just bleeding the brakes. The master and wheel cylinders are most likely in need of an overhaul or replacement as well.

      Like 6
  9. local_sheriff

    There are car guys claiming it’s impossible to locate cool ’50s-’70s cars in good condition for less than 10K in the current market. This Edsel should prove the opposite!! Hardtop, V8,GREAT color combo, nice interior ; what’s not to like…? (…and DON’T loathe it for being a 4door)

    Like 5
    • Michael White

      They are out there. I have a ’59 Ranger that I bought earlier this year for $4500. Not as nice looking as this but I drove it home (although it did need a few things like tires and some crusty fuel lines replaced) and it has a title.

      Like 1
  10. Randy Simon Member

    Sold for $5,400

  11. Phlathead Phil

    Edsels were an oddity. It appears Chevy stole the rear light design for the ‘61 Impala as they look VERY similar.

    They lumbered around corners.

    A friend and co-worker once told me that Robert McNamera had a finger in the pie at Ford over the design.

    He said that McNamera was quoted to have said: “There will ONLY be one car built from now on…the Edsel.” Really?

    Boy was he WRONG!

    Out west we have independent DMV service agents where you can go to transfer your paperwork. My guys charge about $30.00 per transaction.

    That’s a sweet deal considering you walk in and you are out in 5 minutes tops.

    No DMV Hassle whatsoever.

    If the car is not in the system it’s a simple transaction.

    If it is you may have to dig up a few graves to garner signatures.

    A cool old beast and priced CORRECT.

    • Miguel

      Chevy had the 3 lights first on their 1958 Impala.

      Like 3
      • Phlathead Phil

        The rear of the ‘58 Chevy looked nothing like the ‘61 Impala. Park this Edsel next to the Chevy and you’ll See what I mean.

        I meant to imply the entire rear light area.

  12. Jack Mathes

    I thought they were pricey Ford’s. Not enough different to support the price.
    Jokes about rebranding them as “Ethel” didn’t help much either.

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