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In the Barn for 48 Years! 1958 Edsel

Almost everyone is familiar with the Edsel story. The late 1950s product ended up being the wrong car at the wrong time, though it was not a bad automobile. But sales numbers were a huge disappointment and Ford Motor Co. lost millions on the short-lived endeavor. Hidden in a barn since 1975 is this first year Edsel (1958). We’re not sure which model it is, and we’d love to see what it looks like after 48 years of dirt and grime are removed. Located in Crawford, Texas, this throwback to yesteryear is available here on craigslist for $7,500. Another cool barn find tip from T.J.!

When the Edsel debuted in the Fall of 1957, four models were offered, excluding station wagons. The Ranger and Pacer utilized the smaller frame that Ford used for its products, while the more upscale Corsair and Citation employed the larger Mercury platform. The seller’s description doesn’t reveal which model this car is and the photos don’t help a non-Edsel expert like me to differentiate. All four series were offered in a 4-door hardtop body style like the seller’s automobile. Out of 68,000 Edsels to see the light of day in ’58, more than 20,000 were the same body style as this vehicle.

From the photos provided, it doesn’t look like this 1958 Edsel hasn’t seen the outside world in nearly five decades. We don’t know why it was exiled, but that probably doesn’t matter a lot now. Every nook and cranny of the car will need an inspection to determine what work needs to be done and in what order. The first task will be to give this Edsel a good bath to see if any rust is present. We’re told the car is complete except for one wheel cover.

The engine compartment for the V8 motor has been invaded by woodland creatures who look to have been building nests. That powerplant likely displaces either 361 or 410 cubic inches and getting it going again will probably take more than a couple of weekends’ worth of work. The seller says this vehicle has four-wheel drive and runs on diesel fuel, which is certainly not the case. If you decide to take the plunge on this output from one of Ford’s darker periods, you’ll have to be content with a bill of sale as the title is missing. And speaking of missing, what about the pushbuttons in the center of the steering wheel, an Edsel trademark only in 1958?

Comments

  1. Joe Machado

    5,112 Citation 4 doors hardtops made. I have 2.
    One runs, both rustfee. For some reason I loved the 58 since I saw them new at 12 years old. I paid $5,000. total for both.

    Like 21
  2. Maggy

    Pictures are terrible.Really can’t see much of it.Must smell really bad from all the rodents and it’ll be like a smoker’s house you’ll never fully get rid of the smell unless you completely disassemble it and replace anything that can absorb the stench.Wonder how much of the wiring is chewed up.Can’t really tell if it’s worth the $ but by these pics I’d say too much plus it’s a more door which I like but down the road if you have to sell it a 2 door will always be worth more.I’ll pass.glwts.

    Like 9
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Edsel got in line with all the other ugly ’58s being produced (with notable exceptions) with strong drive trains but nothing else to get excited about. Still don’t understand what caused the rash of weird designs in the later ’50s.

    Like 6
    • Robert Hagedorn Member

      And this rash happened so fast. 1955 saw some of the most beautiful designs and dramatic improvements from all the American makers. Then three years later the ugly stuff came. Ford even ruined Thunderbird in 1958 when it was turned into a sedate sedan.

      Like 1
      • Yblocker

        Can’t please everyone, and the 58 Thunderbird proved to be a wise business decision.

        Like 4
      • David Moore

        From a sales standpoint, the 1958 Thunderbird was a massive success and was anything but ruined.

        Like 3
  4. Will Fox

    Based on the roofline from what I can see, this is either a Corsair or Citation. The interior door panel fabric is of those two higher-end models. A shame it wasn’t pushed outside for better pictures after being washed.

    Like 6
    • John

      Citation, enlarge the photo of the glove box. I had the Pacer 2dr sed and Corsair 2dr Ht only problem I ever had with the Corsair was the teletouch relay shorting out, I just bypassed the relay and it shifted every time. I regret selling them, but still have my 58 Buick and 63 Corvair and that’s enough to keep up with at my age, lol

      Like 3
  5. David Zornig

    Craigslist ad says $3500 now.

    Like 3
    • paterson guy

      Wait long enough, he’ll pay you to take it off his hands!

      Like 5
  6. Gary Haas

    Glove Box lid: Citation
    Don’t be so quick to make a styling joke; the 58 Impala got a lot of them too.
    Drive one of these to a cruise night and you’ll be the only one.
    BTW I had a 58 Citation, the teletouch can be a problem.

    Like 9
    • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

      Tele-touch was designed a problem..shift mechanism and relays were outside the trans right over the exhaust pipe..a heat shield was offered as a “fix”..most where left off after trans work was done at the dealer or garage..many complete rebuild services now offered for $200 …very reliable and sturdy system.

      Like 6
  7. TheOldRanger

    Crawford Tx…. home of George Bush….

    Like 3
  8. David Scully

    Very strange to be missing the center steering wheel push buttons, although there appears to be a shift quadrant indicator on the steering column – something I’ve never seen on first year Edsels. Probably worth the $3500 just for parts alone… but what a waste that might be. Much better pictures needed to break loose my Yankee dollars for any reason.

    Like 3
    • David Nelson

      I THINK it was anoption to NOT get the Teletouch push button shifter.

      Like 4
      • Tony

        Yes, I was about to post that. I’m pretty sure it was an optional extra, though I’m thinking only lower models would not be fitted with it. It was relatively popular, partially thanks to Chrysler’s lead in pushbutton shifters…but Chrysler’s buttons were dash-mounted and thus probably less prone to trouble.

        Like 4
      • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

        The teletouch drive was a $231.40 option while the lever control automatic cost you $217.70 extra…..91.9% of these were factory installed equipment.
        This was across all models of the year 1958..The buttons weren’t the problem, the exterior solenoids, relays and wiring were compromised by the heat from the exhaust…

        Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      The entire steering wheel & column is from what I believe is a 1959 Mercury. Since this car was the larger Edsel based on the Mercury body/chassis, this makes sense. It was likely converted when the push button system failed in the 1960s. It would have been easier and cheaper just to buy a used Mercury upper column and shift linkages [without steering box], than to try to fix the push button system.

      Like 4
    • al

      only the top two models in 1958 had the push button drive lower models with the smaller wheel base had collum shifter

      Like 1
      • Lei Spencer Member

        totally inaccurate , In 1958, ALL automatic transmissions had the Teletouch shift as an option. From the cheapie Ranger to the Citation. I believe the Citation came standard with it.

        Like 0
  9. Jeffrey J Wasniak

    not the best pictures

    Like 4
    • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

      Lei, the teletouch drive push-button automatic was a $231.40 option- standard on Corsair and Citation models..the lever-controlled automatic, a $217.70 option, was available only on the Ranger, Pacer and station wagons.

      Like 1
  10. "Edsel" Al leonard Member

    Hmmm..a 58 citation 4 dr HT….361 4bbl. hood ornament missing as well as title…teletouch was replaced with a column shifter…body looks ok..better pics needed to determine rust quantity…might be worth the 2500 mile road trip….will have to contact owner…

    Like 5
    • HC Member

      Surely, this is not same one posted a few days ago with rat nests all over and in engine bay is it? I doubt it just asking.

      Like 1
      • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

        No, its this one…my 1958 Corsair 4 dr HT on the left…

        Like 3
    • Yblocker

      I looked closer, and it’s a 410, two clues, rear temp sending unit, and the air cleaner, someone apparently replaced the Holley with an Autolite

      Like 1
      • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

        No, as I said below, there is an “E” 400 on the drivers valve cover=361cu.in. 400 ft lbs torque…the car has sold so you can’t go back and see it but it is there under all that crud..

        Like 1
    • Joe Machado

      Corsair, not Citation

      Like 0
  11. RDRNR

    Critters have destroyed this for the most part. But because I like different, I’d make it a gasser lol

    Like 1
  12. Morley Member

    There is nothing wrong with the pictures, after all there is nothing to see!!!!!!!

    Like 3
  13. Rumpledoorskin

    What is the reason that every car (it seems) that is put up for the long term has the air cleaner removed?

    Like 5
    • Tony

      I know, right? I suspect no reason, unless the seller is looking for a Will-Smith Treatment. Thinking about it, I think my own car was the only one I’ve seen that didn’t have its carburetor exposed to the elements.

      Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      The carb looks nice and clean inside, so I suspect the air cleaner was recently removed. Let’s hope that after the photos were taken, the air cleaner was at least set in place to keep dirt and vermin out of the engine.

      Field mice can do terrible damage to the inside of an engine. I know of a 1954 Packard Patrician that was left sitting for about 10 years, and realizing the engine was locked solid, the owner pulled the head, only to find mice had been living in the back cylinder for a long time. The urine had severely corroded the cylinder walls and the engine block had to be sleeved once the piston was destroyed & removed. Those mice were able to squeeze between the block and open exhaust valve, climbing up the remains of the front exhaust pipe.

      I’ve even found remains of a mouse inside the intake manifold of a studebaker V8, he was able to open the throttle plate to get into the manifold, but unable to get back out. So always keep the carb opening covered, even if it is only overnight.

      If you can pass a regular pencil through an opening, then a small field mouse can get through the opening too.

      Like 4
  14. T. Pond

    Did not know Edsel ever made a diesel with 4wd.

    Like 3
  15. onkel

    According to the 1958 Edsel brochure, manual transmissions, overdrive transmissions and steering column shift automatics could only be ordered on Rangers, Pacers, and wagons. The steering wheel and shifter on this car here are from a 1959 Mercury IMHO. https://www.zero260.com/posts/magnificent-midcentury-masterpiece-1959-mercury-monterey-cruiser-2-door
    Check the fluted areas where the driver’s hand would be.

    The smooth Edsel steering wheel with Edsel shifter looks like this
    https://barnfinds.com/parked-in-1992-1958-edsel-ranger-2-door-hardtop/1958-edsel-ranger-4/

    Also, why would this 4-door Hardtop have a front bench seat with a split backrest? Weren’t those only installed in 2-doors?

    Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Onkel,

      For some strange reason unknown to us, the Edsel 4-door hardtops for 1958 came with a bench front seat with split seat backs! The post sedans had one-piece seat backs.

      My theory is it might have to do with the increased size of the door post used on the 4-door hardtop, it intrudes further into the passenger area, so perhaps the regular bench seat wouldn’t fit. [Too wide?]

      What I’m wondering is if the seat backs are fixed in position, or do they fold forward? I’m guessing Ford made them as fixed seat backs.

      Hey Edsel Al Leonard, does your 4-door hardtop have a front seat with split backs, and do they fold forward?

      Like 2
      • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

        Yes, my 58 Corsair 4 dr HT has 60-40 front seat that do NOT fold forward.. only the 2 dr HT has 60-40 seats that fold forward so the back seat passengers have an easier time getting in thru the passenger door…

        Like 2
  16. DAVID G

    Well-penned write-up Russ, thanks. As owner of 3 Citations running an registered, i know these cars well. All 3 use the ‘Teletouch Drive’ since on the large Mercury-based 1958 Edsel Citations and Corsairs it was THE ONLY shifting option, no opt-out to stick-shift. (Except possibly for export cars??)
    This car therefore sports a transplanted Steering Column with Shifter-Lever from something else, a bit of an ambitious changeover project for a Teletouch-equipped car. Maybe they found a 56-58 Mercury as donor for that stuff since those are really similar…

    Like 2
  17. "Edsel" Al leonard Member

    When the short- lived teletouch was discontinued after all the problems with it necessitated it, there was a lever-control automatic drive installed by the dealer to replace it..(which was a $217.70 option origionally)..I had 5 Edsels -2 sold overseas-and the 58’s all have teletouch controls with the shield installed- which probably saved them from damage…

    Like 7
    • Packard Mike

      Are you in Pickford, Mi?

      Like 0
      • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

        close by………………

        Like 0
    • Packard Mike

      We visit family in Pickford a few times a year. Usually at the St Ignace show. Maybe we’ll cross paths. Cruise on……

      Like 0
      • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

        I’ll be there.Thurs-Sat….don’t know which car I’ll take yet…

        Like 0
  18. onkel

    Steering column, steering wheel and shifter are from 1959 Mercury.

    Why would this 4-door have a front bench seat with split backrest? Those were only installed in 2-doors, I thought.

    Like 2
  19. Yblocker

    I’ll be among the minority, but I’ve always loved these Edsels, could have had several nice ones back in the 70s, for cheap, too late now. These are some lousy photos, hard to believe. Judging by the Autolite 4barrel, I would guess it’s the 361, which would make it a Ranger or Pacer, I think the higher end 410 used a Carter, but I’m sure Mr “Edsel” up above correct or confirm that. These were available with a 3spd manual, which would have eliminated the only real issue with these cars. The column mounted pushbuttons would probably be a success with today’s technology. Oh, and as far as styling, the 59 Buick gets my vote for the ugliest car of the 50s.

    Like 4
    • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

      It is a 361 evidenced by the “E” faintly seen on the valve cover which designates the 400HP claim by Ford…the 410 cu in used a Holley 4 bbl and also had a fuel pump bolted to the timing chain cover upside down..the teletouch was rushed into production and the engineers didn’t think about the heat that would envelope the shift motor and wiring outside the transmission directly above the drivers side exhaust pipe….Thus a pre-70’s catalyic converter fix was employed shortly after many complaints of erratic performance were reported to dealers…a thin metal shield was bolted to the block and transmission between the pipe and trans parts….it worked as long as the shield was left in place..many were removed during trans service procedures..the wiring was par for the day but nothing like todays wiring…the push buttons worked fine…there are many guys offering complete rebuild/upgrades today for those who want the latest improvements built into their teletouch ..Ford offered the lever control auto transmission for those who no longer wanted the teletouch in their car as a fix..( which was offered as a $217.70 option when new)….

      Like 4
      • maggy

        Never saw one . That is cool. Thanks for the pic and info sir. I like to learn info on old cars or anything mechanical for that matter.

        Like 2
      • Yblocker

        “E400” is the 361, the 400 represents the torque rating, not HP. The 410 had “E475” on the valve cover, again, torque rating.

        Like 1
    • Willard

      I can see just enough to tell that it is indeed a postless 4 door hardtop. Best use would be as a 100% restored car for those of that bent. Those of us in the hot rod and custom world would prefer the two door models. Only solution for this car is to take completely apart, catalog everything, then take it down to bare metal and do a complete rebuild of everything. Deserves nothing less. Just getting it running and a quick spit shine before heading off to the nearest car show while leaning to one side because the suspension is shot just won’t do.

      Like 2
  20. DAVID G

    No manual trans or column-shift Auto possible for the Citation model in 1958, everyone was pushin’ buttons! (Had to step down to a 58 Pacer, Ranger, or Wagon model for other-than-Teletouch trans.)

    All Citations had the 410ci, an MEL design engine (Fuel Pump up front and mounted up high above the WaterPump). Correct Carb was a Holley 4150 but as we all know, the Autolite 4bbl would fit and is a much more reliable and maintenance-free design.

    Like 2
    • Yblocker

      Thanks for that bit of info, I knew the manual trans was only available in the low end models, but I wasn’t aware of the Holley carburetor on the 410. And yes, nothing more simple and reliable than the Autolite 4100, I’ve been using them for years, and still do.

      Like 1
  21. Joe Machado

    Y’all, it’s a Citation, not Ranger-Pacer

    Like 0
  22. HC Member

    1958 sure was a bad year for many Amercican model cars. Sorry, but I’m too old too be cleaning up all that rat and mouse poop, along with their nests in every square inch of the frame and places you’d never suspect. Good luck to the buyer.

    Like 3
  23. donald Doxtater

    i had a 58 citation and the only problem with tele shift was the motor that did the shifting was to weak to shift in the wintertime without warming the car up for at least 20 minutes before it would shift into gear, no quick moves to get anywhere in a hurry .

    Like 1
    • "Edsel" Al leonard Member

      thats your” antiquated system” for ya- everything was a little slower in the day..take your time…you’ll get there..:>)

      Like 2
  24. Robert Hagedorn Member

    The glove compartment door that probably hides the rat family living inside looks in good condition.

    Like 0
  25. HC Member

    It was interesting reading about the teletouch shifter that these later 50s Edsels had at the time and the problems they were prone to having and the fixes involved to correcting the problems. Guess with these problems is why you didn’t see the teletouch in many Ford or Mercury’s into the 60s. Chrysler had a similar push button type trans shifter that did survive into the early to mid 60s some maybe they were designed to be more reliable. Don’t think they were electrical though,maybe vacuum controlled?

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      HC, the Chrysler version was cable operated. Each push button was designed to only move the cable a small amount, equal to the amount of rotational movement on the trans input shaft. I guess one can compare it to the shifting of a motorcycle progressive foot shifted manual gearbox.

      About the only trouble they ever gave was if one of the buttons popped off and went under the seat! I ran an old car shop for 30+ years, and we never had to deal with a failed shifter cable system.

      Like 3
  26. "Edsel" Al leonard Member

    The teletouch was rushed into production by the pencil pushers- remember Robert McNamara?? The idea was OK, the components and locations of the components was the systems demise. I haven’t been able to get an exact date, but it didn’t last the whole production year of 1958..too many problems and with it the reputation on the line, they discontinued it and went to the lever shift if the owners wanted it.. Today, there are several guys that can set you up with any piece you need with modern components at reasonable prices..and some have re-build services that take all the work out of it except R & R..It’s always a hit at the shows when people ask “What are those buttons for??”

    Like 2
  27. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    The 1956 Packard was the first car to have a “push button shifter” for an automatic transmission [beating Chrysler by a matter of days!], it was a small box that replaced the lever shifter, and had 6 buttons. The above schematic has the following text:

    “Operation of the system is portrayed schematically. The driver’s forefinger puts touch-pressure on the push-button ‘D’ for ‘Drive.’ With no mechanical linkage to overcome, touch-pressure of the forefinger sends electrical signal (course of signal shown by arrows) down from push-button console, located on steering column, through wire to ‘servo-motor.’ Upon receipt of electric signal, servo-motor turns in proper direction to actuate worm and segment gear which rotates range selector shaft which, in turn, chooses driving position indicated by driver’s forefinger on push-button. The selection made, circuit of electrical power is broken off until need for another driving range selection. All this procedure takes place in smallest fraction of a second. The Packard electric push-button system is the only one to offer a ‘safe-parking’ feature.”

    The system, like the Edsel version, was rushed into production, and had only one serious problem that was eventually solved: The contacts on the servo motor next to the transmission had bare copper connections, and they could corrode if moisture got into the selector case. The corrosion would cause the contacts to overheat and warp.

    The permanent solution was to have the contacts plated with a small amount of gold, thereby eliminating the corrosion. Once the system has been updated, it is quite reliable. Also note that if the car is stopped and the ignition is turned off, the car will put itself into park. If the car needs to be towed or otherwise kept in neutral without the ignition turned on, just disconnect the battery cable with the Neutral button depressed.

    Note that while the text makes it seem like all you have to do is touch the button, in reality you have to actually push the button in until the mechanism both mechanically and electrically connects. It’s a positive engagement, much like many 1950s and ’60s electrical switches as on electric stoves. Pushing another button will make the previous button pop back out, as only 1 button can be pushed down at a time.

    Like 1
  28. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Here’s an original magazine ad of the new 1956 Packard Caribbean convertible, where they tout the push-button shift as well as the reversible seat cushions [leather on one side, fabric on the other].

    Like 3
  29. HC Member

    Bill was the Packard’s push button trans design more like Ford or Chyslers? Or even better

    Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      HC,

      It was similar in concept to the Ford version. Chrysler used a cable, and no electrics was required.

      In 1985 I bought my first Rolls-Royce, a Silver Shadow, and discovered it had a similar system to the Packard. They went to the electrical shift system because they made both RHD and LHD cars, and with the electrical shift setup the parts like shift linkages, steering column and wiring harness were basically the same.

      Like 1
  30. HC Member

    Bill, thanks for posting the Packard diagram for the push button trans selector. Can’t imagine having to gold plate the contacts on the transmission servo motor as a repair. What a PITA

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      HC,

      The cost of gold plating the “fingers” is actually inexpensive. There are only 7 contacts; the 6 fingers and the moving contact. It’s not 24 carat, only enough of a gold alloy to prevent corrosion. And since there is very little pressure on the fingers, wear isn’t a problem.

      Packard rushed this into production over the short span of a couple of months, because they heard Chrysler was planning on the intro of their push-button controls. As Chrysler had a patent on their mechanical type, Packard had to rely on an electric version that literally bolted onto the trans shifter shaft, and the driver control box mounted to the column in place of the shifter lever assembly. I’ve actually added push buttons to ’55 & ’56 Clippers that didn’t get them, and it’s a simple process. The factory had a special wiring harness for the push-button system so Packard dealers could add it to cars in inventory should a buyer want the option.

      Had the Packard engineers had a little more time, I’m sure they would have discovered the overheating from the “fingers” corroding. The button console was almost indestructible, and the electric motor was not stressed at all.

      FYI — I was a Packard spare parts retailer for 30 years.

      Like 3

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