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Former Movie Prop: 1958 Edsel Pacer

The Edsel was Ford Motor Company’s biggest product miscue of the 1950s, perhaps of all-time. It was launched during a period of economic uncertainty and the buying public didn’t respond positively. Sales were far below expectations and Ford pulled the plug just two months into the line’s third model year. This first-year Pacer, Edsel’s mid-line model, is said to have had the distinction of co-starring in a movie, 1980’s Used Cars with Kurt Russell and Jack Warden. It’s been sitting in a garage for 30 years and needs a complete restoration. Located in Rushford, Minnesota, this minor celebrity is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached just $1,025, but the seller has set a reserve.

Ford’s market research in the mid-1950s indicated there was room in their line-up for another car to join the mix of Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln products. Four series were developed based on platforms used by their corporate siblings, the Ranger, Pacer, Corsair, and Citation, based on price, in this order, from low to high. The cars were distinguished by their now-famous “horse collar” grille and technical gimmicks like an automatic transmission with push buttons inside the center of the steering wheel. Instead of predicted first-year sales of 200,000 units in 1958, Ford only built 68,000 Edsel’s. That caused them to regroup for 1959 and again in 1960 before retiring the car and division.

For reasons unknown, the producers of the 1980s selected three Edsel’s to be used in the film Used Cars. Two of them were 1958s and another was 1959. They were painted in similar colors and used interchangeably in different scenes to appear to be the same car. The Edsel available here is said to be the only one used in scenes with Jack Warden in the car and behind the wheel. This was one of just 5,234 Pacer 4-door hardtops built in 1958. The paint is two-tone white and turquoise with a coral-colored interior.

After the flick was made in Arizona, this Edsel found its way to Kansas City in the late 1980s. It was there that then-owner placed an ad in the local newspaper in 1992, putting it up for sale. That’s when it was acquired by the seller’s father and it ended up staying in the barn for the next 30 years. We’re told the auto’s authenticity can be verified by the unorthodox exterior/interior color combination, the sticker on the windshield, and dents on the driver’s side of the car. All are said to match with what you see in the movie.

Setting aside the potential history of the vehicle, it’s still an old Edsel that’s not in running condition and needs a lot of work. Everything is old and dirty after sitting for several decades and NADA says one of these cars is worth $15-20,000 on the high end. Whether the car’s history adds any value to the automobile is probably in the eye of the beholder. It will either mean something to a prospective buyer – or it won’t.

Comments

  1. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Loved that movie…..is that yellow paint there ?

    Not sure the movie history will help – but it couldn’t hurt……

    Like 11
    • Mike

      My favorite movie as well. The interrupted Carter speech was the best.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqHZWdFVyyQ

      Like 4
      • Al

        lmfao, thanks for the clip. Not sure how I missed this classic flick but will search netflix or prime thx

        Like 2
  2. CJinSD

    I saw “Used Cars” in the theater when it came out. I was ten years old, but such was my love of cars that I convinced my father to take me to an R-rated movie. It’s amazing how well this car has aged over the last 42 years.

    Like 5
  3. nlpnt

    By the early/mid-2000s Ford’s acquisitions had finally put them where they wanted to be with the Edsel decades before. Mazda’s 3 and 6 appealed to the young up-and-comer demographic these “smaller” Ford-based Edsels were aimed at, and the main Volvo models at the big Corsair/Citation demo (while the Grand Marquis was a hit with the Edsel target cohort, those that had been young up-and-comers in ’58).
    It’s too bad the British marques brought not only the whole PAG but the longstanding Ford-Mazda partnership down with Mercury as collateral damage.

  4. Terrry

    There was also the Citation, which was a fancier Corsair. The Pacer was a fancier Ranger. The two former had longer wheelbases than the two latter.

    Like 2
  5. Gloin

    I notice this has the “Teletouch” shifter buttons in the steering wheel. The Edsel website says they even made Teletouch facemasks for the salesmen to wear….?

    edsel.com/pages/whatisit.htm

    Like 1
  6. Ike Onick

    I have read some very sketchy and downright foolish “Celebrity Contact” claims on this site, but the “Used Cars” claim is, without a doubt, the sketchiest.

  7. Autoworker

    Ford Lima Engine Plant was built in 1957 to produce the engines for the Edsel.
    LEP has built a variety of 4,6, and 8 cylinder engines over the years including the “Boss 429”.
    Lima engine has always built high volume engines, now building the 2.7-3.0 ecoboost, and the 3.5-3.7s used in trucks and vans. I am proud to have worked 32 years at this location.

    Like 10
  8. Will Fox

    If the still from the movie is supposed to show the car actually IN the movie, it’s wrong. The Edsel shown in the movie still is a Pacer 4dr. SEDAN with framed door glass and a B-pillar. The car for sale is a 4dr.HARDTOP with no B-pillar.

    Like 6
  9. RNR

    True, the seller isn’t helping his case with that photo. If you go to the ebay listing there is a still of Jack Warden behind the wheel of a hardtop (see the chrome vent window frame)

    Like 1
  10. Cam W.

    I was a partner in a large “picture car” business for about 20 years. We owned 300++ cars, although about 1/2 were cop-cars and taxis. Most of our fleet was relatively current, as most film/TV is shot as present-day. While many productions have big budgets, they are typically low budget on picture cars.
    My point is that a vehicle advertised as being in a film is not an indication that it is a good vehicle. Typically, the absolute minimum is spent on paint/repair/maintenance, especially if the ride is a “background” piece. If the vehicle is involved in significant scenes, there may be at least several copies in varying condition. Often only one will be the decent “A-car”, for close-ups. The other copies may have been quickly painted ,usually without much prep, or primer, and may even have spray-painted interiors etc. If there were car-chases, stunts, off-road etc, the undercarriages are often beat/bent/broken.
    If the cars are genuinely nice, and still desirable after filming, it is not uncommon for production staff or others connected to the film to have dibs.
    BTW, if a film/TV production wants to rent your car……Be Very careful. Most collector car insurers specifically exclude such use. We did frequently rent cars from collectors, but Always ensured production had proper insurance (some did Not). If the car was a high-value original, we also insisted that it be accompanied by the owner, or a burly member of our staff (at production’s expense) to ensure the car was not abused. You would be surprised how many times they want to “dull-down” shiney paint, drill holes for cables, or add an unscripted stunt!

    Like 14
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      I agree 100%. If they want your car for a movie or still advertising photo shoot, you need to demand [at least a week in advance], evidence of insurance specifically naming your vehicle.

      You or a trusted friend/employee/representative MUST be there at all times, and if it’s not you, whoever is in charge of the car must have your authorization to make decisions concerning the car’s use or risks involved.

      If the movie calls for your car to be driven, you must be provided with all the info as to what will happen, who will drive it, and will any equipment be attached to the vehicle. Also if the car will be towed, and how will the towing equipment be attached.

      If they won’t provide the above info, or the info is vague, then the few hundred $ they are offering probably won’t compensate for what happens to the car.

      I had a 1955 Chrysler Imperial C70 limousine, a very rare car. They needed it for a movie. When I got the limo back, the fuse for the division window was missing. When I replaced the fuse and raised the window, that special AS-1 curved division window was cracked. I’m sure when they attached a camera mount to the raised glass with powerful suction cups, that caused the crack. The insurance paperwork was worthless.

      I had to sue the production co in small claim court. Got a quick judgement for about $3k, as they never showed up. Never was able to find another division window, and ended up taking the loss off my taxes.

      Like 6
  11. Tony Primo

    I was selling used cars for a while in 1985. We had regularly scheduled Friday morning sales meetings. One Friday for a treat the manager popped in a vhs of Used Cars for us to watch!

    Like 4
  12. Piper62j

    Meh!!! I never cared for the Edsel.. Oversized Galaxy 500… My wife loves them.. (Not in my garage)!

  13. Jeff Quintrall

    An Arizona Toyota dealer uses the “Used Cars” movie as a training film!

    Like 1
  14. Greg

    For the price, it could be a contender, with some TLC, upgrade under hood and paint. It would be something different to see on the road.

  15. Kirk Stankiewicz

    Luke Fuch’s ” were about to get F****d here”

  16. Phil B.

    This car looks like the one they buried in the dirt.

  17. AMCFAN

    I once purchased a car used in a feature film. It was 2004 and the movie had not come out. I bought the car had it shipped. It was about six months until it was released and went to see it. I was blown away as it played a major roll. In the case of this particular film they had four cars. Here is the issue. I had a car that was used on a movie but had no documentation. The seller said he purchased everything from the movie production company when the film wrapped. The crew flew back from California and left everything in an Alabama junk yard. The owner of the junkyard put everything on the net including 1/2 of a vintage Airstream camper cut in half.

    I had to do my research. So for one thing one just can’t call Sony and ask anything. If you are on the outside it is almost impossible to make contact with anyone. It took months and finally got to talk to someone in traffic. His name was Jim. We talked in detail. He knew the car was perplexed I had the title in my name. He had the original title on his desk. Lucky for me it was purchased in Alabama. They don’t use titles. I was given a bill of sale and that was good enough for my state.

    Jim put other pieces together and confirmed my car was used for interior shots and a major rain storm scene where my car was placed in a water tank. Jim was ready to move on and felt sorry for me after weeks of calling sent me a letterhead stating my car was used in the movie and was hand signed. Holy grail.

    One thing learned is this. When a vehicle is used in a movie the only documentation one usually gets is from the supplier for the movie. Like Cinema Vehicle Service. A major movie studio won’t sign anything because of liability issues. I got very lucky. With this Edsel above after 40 years good luck with talking to anyone.

    Without actual written documentation all you have is a rough Edsel.

    Like 5
  18. wayne wright

    In the mid 90’s I went to Decatur,Tx to look at some Edsels. The gentleman had been collecting Big E’s for several years. In a barn and outside were approx 80 in various condition. Most were 58 models. The rarest was a 2 dr 60 station wagon. Only 2 or 3 built.

    Like 1

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