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Patina Project: 1959 Edsel Ranger

In the mid-1950s, Ford’s research told them there was room in the medium-priced market for another car to compete with Dodge, DeSoto, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick. Yet, they already had the Mercury. Practically every Baby Boomer who’s into cars knows how that turned out. Instead of 400,000 cars per year, Edsel saw just 118,000 copies made in 2 ½ years. The entry-level Ranger, like the seller’s 2-door sedan, would be around for all three model years. This 1959 has loads of patina and runs, but on a limited basis due to more parts needing replacement. This one is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and available here on Facebook Marketplace for $5,500 firm.

Ford invested $250 million (and that’s in 1950s money) to bring the Edsel to market, a car that was named after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. In the Fall of 1957, Ford Motor Company unveiled its new division called Edsel, with no less than seven models that would be built on either Ford or Mercury production lines, depending on the lineage of the car. The Edsel’s ultimate demise is a textbook marketing case study and what not to do as the car was an expensive failure for Ford. Barely two years after the first Edsels were introduced with their horse-collar grills and push-button transmissions in the steering wheel, production of the cars was shut down.

When sales of the 1958 models indicated there was trouble on the horizon, Ford thinned down the Edsel line-up and the cars began to more closely resemble other Ford products. The seller’s 1959 Edsel Ranger is not that dissimilar to the Ford Fairlane of the same model year. The seller bought this one from the aging original owner at a car show about three years ago. Mechanically, work done since then has focused on getting the front brakes in order and adjusting the suspension to lower the car a bit (sounds like the idea of a restomod was in the works at one point).

Because of the Edsel’s desert heritage, whatever rust is on the car may be just surface rust. The blue and white paint could very well be original from what we can see. None of the sheet metal looks to be particularly troublesome. The interior will need a fair amount of work, as the seats and door panels will need to be recovered and the carpeting is out of the car, revealing only more surface rust on the floorboards.

Because this car was an entry-level Ranger, it had few amenities. Ford’s inline-six is under the hood, likely the 223 cubic inch “Mileage Maker” engine with 3-on-the-tree. The motor needs a water pump, and the clutch is showing signs of slippage. Edsel sold 7,778 Ranger 2-door sedans for 1959, but we don’t know the breakdown of I-6 vs. V8. Most of the online listings for these cars point to nice originals or restored examples, landing somewhere between $12-20,000. That leaves the buyer a little room to tend to the cosmetic issues and memorize the Edsel story to tell to friends when they ask what in the world this is.

Comments

  1. LandYacht

    I like it, nice car at a fair price. Most Edsel I see at shows are the higher end models. This budget Edsel is a refreshing find. Good luck new owner.

    Like 5
  2. Steve Clinton

    “Patina Project” Wasn’t that a female Super Hero?

    Like 4
  3. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Not to be negative, but there certainly doesn’t appear to have been much work accomplished on this car in 3 years.
    I can’t imagine why lowering the car would be so important, considering the other work the car needs. So after 3 years, you end up where you started, clutch slipping and seats mostly worn through, but look how low the thing is!! Goofy.

    Like 8
  4. local_sheriff

    It’s almost shocking to observe just how many Edsels, ’59 in particular, are still around in restorable condition and they don’t seem to command premium $. Stripper cars like this one are just great, it’s a miracle it survived the crusher when it went out of fashion.
    While I don’t necessarily find them to be the best-looking for their respective years they’re far from the worst either. Guess their survival rate proves they weren’t such bad cars after all!

    Like 6
    • William

      I live my 59. I sold it originally back in 1980. I found it 11 years ago and bought it back. It needed everything. Now it’s a great car to drive. A real head turner. I agree with you Edsel Division went a bit conservitive with the 59. And looks more like a Fairlane. Like the Ford Granada or Mercury Monarch. We sometimes received Monarchs from the factory with Granada name badges on them.

      Like 0
  5. Jimmy Novak

    There’s that ‘restomod’ word again, a contradiction in terms. Can’t be both ‘restored’ and ‘modified’.

    Like 2
  6. tom hofstad

    I had the virtually same car as this. Power nothing, no options. I loved it. Adequate power, great mileage and cushy ride, roomy comfort for 6. Add to that it was simple to work on and durable.

    Like 3
  7. Kenn

    Thanks tom hofstad, for pointing out the attraction and advantage of cars like this. Affordable for those of us not in a position to acquire a collection – as so many on this site seem to have – but still desiring a car from days gone by.

    Like 1
  8. Zak

    I’m pretty positive I currently own this vehicle from looking at the provided pictures. The seats have been reupholstered, has new carpet, and I’m currently working on a new Driveline. It’s in Illinois now, and aside from the patina the body & frame are very solid.

    Like 0

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