One Year Only: 1958 Edsel Citation Hardtop

Timing is everything, and it’s everything that Edsel simply didn’t have. The Edsel range was introduced to the motoring public amidst huge fanfare, and its first-year offerings were nothing if not interesting. One of those initial offerings was the Citation, a model that appeared for the 1958 model year only. This Citation 2-Door Hardtop is in need of a full restoration, but apart from missing a couple of minor trim items, it is a complete car that is said to start and run. You will find the Citation located in Spanaway, Washington, and listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the listing to open at $2,340, but there have been no bids to this point.

Finished in a combination of Jonquil Yellow and Black, the Edsel seems to be wearing all of its original exterior chrome and trim. Much of this will require restoration in one form or another, but that’s in keeping with the condition of the rest of the vehicle. External rust seems to be confined to the lower edges of the front fenders and doors, although there is surface corrosion visible in a number of locations around the car. The worst of the rust is the stuff that you can’t see in the photos. There is extensive rust in the floors, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be beyond help. Thankfully, all of the original tinted glass looks to be in fairly good condition.

Once again, looking around inside the Edsel reveals plenty of work for the next owner, although there are some good points. The headliner looks like it is really nice, while some of the interior trim and the seats look like they might respond well to a deep clean. The driver’s side door trim is missing, while the passenger side one does look quite tatty. The dash will need some work, as there is some corrosion present, at least one broken switch, and the pad is a mess. There is no carpet inside the Citation, but at least this gives us a clear view of some of the rust present in the floors. Of course, being a Citation, the car does feature the quirky “Teletouch” gear selection system, and this is said to work properly.

This is as close as we get to a look at the Citation’s engine, but we know that the car is fitted with the 410ci E-475 V8, producing 345hp. Behind this, you will find the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic MX transmission, while you also get power steering and power brakes. The good news here is that the engine is said to run fine and to have fairly healthy oil pressure. The transmission also shifts properly. However, there is some work to do. The brakes don’t currently work, and the gas pedal linkage is also broken. If that’s the full extent of the mechanical maladies, then that doesn’t leave a lot of work to be done in that area. One interesting aspect of the Citation is the performance that could be extracted from it. This is by no means a light car, tipping the scales at 4,136lbs. Even so, when equipped as this one is, it could still get its way from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds, cover the ¼ mile in 16.1 seconds, and reach a top speed of 123mph. Not muscle car territory, but pretty impressive for such a heavy vehicle.

There was no single factor that accounted for the failure of the Edsel, and many motoring experts have put forward their own theories, ranging from bad timing, through to poor build quality, polarizing styling, lack of management support for the venture, and a failure to understand the requirements of the buying public. It is probably true that all of these factors contributed in some way, along with a few that I haven’t mentioned. For the Citation, it meant that it appeared for a single year before being dropped from the rationalized 1959 Edsel range. In 1958, a total of 9,299 Citations were produced, with a mere 2,781 of these being the 2-Door Hardtop. If this had been conceived as a limited-edition classic, then those figures would probably not be too bad. However, this was conceived and marketed as a mainstream high-volume model, which makes those figures look pretty awful. The bonus is that today, these are becoming increasingly rare. Combine those factors with the fact that they are a car that has developed something of a cult following, and this impacts on values. You will be hard-pressed to find a reasonable Citation of any description for under $20,000 today, while a 2-Door Hardtop will command prices of $30,000 or more. This one needs some work to bring it to those sorts of standards, but given the fact that values continue to rise, it might be worth the time and the effort.

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Member

    The floating “rolling dome” speedometer in these were awesome. I would own an Edsel just to watch the speedometer work.

    13
  2. George Mattar

    Ugly. One of Ford’s biggest blunders.

    3
  3. bobhess Member

    Not the best looking machine in the fleet but did spend a day driving one and that drive train really moved all that iron. Fast and Ugly….?

    4
    • David G

      Actually, only Mercurys and Lincolns received the dual-range Cruiseomatic variant of FoMoCo’s Fordomatic in 58.
      The Citation and its younger sister Corsair were fitted with a larger version of Ford’s (BW-designed?) single-range Fordomatic, a 3-speed cast-iron box that started out in 2nd and shifted to 3rd (1:1) in ‘Dr’ive range, unless one floored it from a start (or selected the ‘Lo’ button) to get 1st gear.
      I also use the Lo button above approx 30 mph for engine-braking when rolling in Drive, which forces a downshift to 2nd between 30-60ish.

      Lots to do on this one but it could be a real knockout once tastefully done up..

      2
  4. local_sheriff

    Underrated then – underrated now. While I’ll agree it may not be the prettiest 50s car, I’ve never understood there’s anything ugly about them. Considering what other automakers presented for ’58 there were IMHO lesser designs than the Edsel( Buick, Olds, Ford, Mercury…).

    I find Edsels truly fascinating in their own right and the marque’s fate makes them somehow even more attractive. At a car show 2 weeks back I had the pleasure of spotting a ’58 Edsel longroof. Sadly in a rather rough condition and not in the über-cool Bermuda livery, however those wagons have some fascinating tail lights!

    14
  5. sir mike

    What a shame.Hope she can be saved.

    7
  6. bobhess Member

    local_sheriff… Now that you mention it, this car just might be the best looking of any of the ’58 offerings. Great year to be in the chrome business.

    10
    • local_sheriff

      OK,OK – I understand many folks dislike the ’58 cars for their garishness, but IMO there are highlights like Pontiac, Chevy and Caddy (in that order) not only for that year but the 50s as a whole. Not to mention the ’58 Mopars that are in a class for its own

      2
      • onree

        ’58 Mopars are a very modest rehash of the “Suddenly It’s 1960” Mopars of 1957. And not a class of their own there, because the Ford and Mercury are similar modest facelifts of the ’57 family, and Studebaker as well. Edsel brand new, of course, and the ’58 Lincoln quite different from the ’57.

        2
      • local_sheriff

        onree – yes ’58 Mopars were indeed facelifts of the ’57s and I think it’d be safe to say any ’57-’59 Mopars were way ahead of the competition design-wise.

        Not to be nit-picking ( but I am) – though introduced that year Edsels weren’t strictly ‘all new’ by ’58 – the lesser Ranger/Pacer and wagons were based on Ford’s chassis/ shell, as the posher versions – Citation/ Corsair – were based on Mercs . Drivelines were based on exsisting FoMoCo components, yet Edsel engines used marque-specific bore/stroke

        1
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    345hp?

    2
  8. rpol35 Staff

    The leading put down at the time was that the Edsel looked like an Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon.

    3
    • Vince H

      The Olds and Buick in 58 were just as ugly, if not uglier, IMO

      8
      • Ed P

        I second that opinion

        5
  9. Johnmloghry Member

    Citation is a name that just never really seemed to work out for car makers, several used the name for short periods of time. I once owned a 59 Ranger with 292, it was a comfortable car, I liked the design of the grill a little better on the 59.
    God bless America

    1
  10. Vincent Habel

    The recession of 58 did not help it either.

    6
  11. bigdoc

    These cars have always had a certain fascination for me.

    6
  12. Marshall

    In 1975, I had an opportunity to buy a running 1958 four-door Edsel for $850. It had only 70,000 miles on it. It had the Tele-touch transmission. And of course it was only 17 years old at the time. I passed on it.

  13. Philip Bregar

    I’ve always kind of liked the Edsels, don’t know why. I’m just surprised that no one has come up with a cutom 58 that got rid of the horse collar grill and made a full width grill instead. Too far away for me to even dream of owning it.

  14. Fred Franke

    In 1968, I was 16 and worked on a junkyard outside of Frankfurt/Germany. I remember we had 5 or 6 Edsel standing there – all in good shape, one was a convertible. American soldiers stationed in the Frankfurt era delivered these cars to us for next to nothing, as they went back home or Vietnam. What a shame….nobody wanted them and they where dismanteled

    4
  15. CanuckCarGuy

    My father owned one, well before I was born, and it was his favourite car by far. Notwithstanding his experience, I truly like their look and would love to own one…as for the “ugly” front end, it makes the car IMHO.

    1
  16. bone

    door panels, not trim

    1
  17. Gary Lewis

    So this car is showing up at my shop tomorrow (not a automotive shop, I’m an electrical contractor), this thing is so ugly its beautiful, lol. Need edsel know how connections and lots of luck!

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