Rare But Major Project: 1958 Edsel Citation Convertible

The owner says, “The vehicle needs work!” Gee, ya’ think? It’s going to need some parts thrown in with that work too. But, there is something here to consider, this is a rare car, one of only 930 produced out of 63,000 total 1958 Edsels. OK, it’s worth a closer review so off to Antrim, New Hampshire for a look-see where this 1958 Edsel Citation convertible is available; it is here on eBay for a BIN price of $6,995 with a make an offer option. Thanks to my colleague Russ Dixon for this tip!

The rise and quick descent of the Edsel has been documented in many places, numerous times. And while some might be tempted to refer to this as a “Ford” Edsel, it’s not, it was a separate brand under the Ford umbrella (and from what I have read, Henry II ultimately wished it was a separate brand under someone else’s umbrella). The actual business story and failure have become, to many, more interesting than the car itself. But Edsels have very devoted fans and hobbyists. Go to any well-attended car show, pretty much anywhere in the U.S., and you will usually see a two-door hardtop for a four-door sedan from ’58 or ’59. Rarer models include station wagons, examples from the very truncated model year of 1960 (they look like Pontiacs and that look was already taken, by Pontiac!), or a convertible such as this example. This 124″ wheelbase Citation convertible was one of two convertibles offered in the Edsel line for ’58, the other being the 118″ wheelbase “Pacer” model – not as rare as the Citation but low production numbers with only 1,876 built.

Once you get over the initial shock of this Edsel’s down-trodden appearance, you can be a bit more objective about its naked condition. The seller is a person of few words so the listing won’t tell you much. It would seem that this convertible was stripped of its parts but then maybe primered perhaps for a restoration. And it comes as you see it other than some interior parts that are included. While the body is straight and is free of major rot, though that driver’s door doesn’t look so hot, there are an enormous number of items missing that will have to be sourced, not the least being the infamous “Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon” grille. The exterior is going to need everything i.e.,  grille, bumpers, brackets, trim, badges, etc. I would also throw a word of caution about the underside, it warrants a full inspection. The seller advertises its Edsel’s interior color, code “T”, which is gold and white vinyl and the exterior as code “X”, gold metallic, but it hardly seems relevant at this point. There are places where you can spy the original, mostly covered-over finish.

The interior is gutted, though the seller has new door cards and seats in the original trim color combination. Considering this Edsel’s deleterious condition, seats, and door cards seem like one of the last things to acquire or even consider. It’s unknown if all of the parts for the convertible top frame are present but what’s revealed looks shaky. Of note, and there is more here to un-note than there is to note, is the Edsel’s, steering wheel mounted,  pushbutton transmission selector for the “Teletouch Automatic” transmission. The misplaced back seat spare tire does its best to promote a Beverly Hillbillies vibe about this Edsel.

Clearly a no-goer, this Citation does house a “MEL” series 410 CI V8 that at one-time generated 345 gross HP. The seller refers to it as a “475” engine which is the correct Edsel designation, it references its torque rating which is 475 lb. feet. There is no way to tell if it would run but its appearance leaves big doubts, it’s probably going to need complete disassembly and rebuilding. Regardless of this Edsel’s current mechanical aptitude, performance tests of the time (Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics), recorded 0-60 times between nine to ten seconds; pretty stout for a 4,300 lb., late ’50s car. Extra credit question, what do you think the coffee can, attached to the driver’s side inner fender, is for? As for the Teletouch transmission, you are probably going to need a Telephone to call someone up who can tell you how it works; it has more than likely suffered the same, long-term, nonworking fate as the engine.

You have to wonder how such a rare, notable car ended up in such a deplorable condition. Often, one’s eyes get bigger than their stomach, they start a project like this and then realize they are way in over their head. The search for all of the parts alone could take years much less the wiring, upholstery, engine/powertrain, trim, and on and on that will need to be facilitated. It’s rare, but it’s rough, I’m not sure that I would know where to start on this beast. What do you think, a worthwhile project basis or move on, nothing here to see?

Thanks to both www.edsel.com and www.edselmotors.com for help with 1958 Edsel statistics and facts.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    Considering all the”needs” of this project, I would hope that a prospective buyer would have a parts car, or at least the patience of Job to track down everything!
    (IMO) rarity in this case equates to a long and costly labor of love. GLWTA! :-)

    Like 4
  2. Arthell64 Member

    It would take a special person to restore this car. I have to admit I don’t have the guts to attempt a project like this.

    Like 3
  3. Chillywind

    I think and this is just a thought, if I remember from when I was working on cars at the age of 13 back in 85, my boss had one and that coffee can resides where the washer fluid tank would go? wasn’t this one of the first cars to have that?
    Hello?

    Like 3
    • David G

      Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner. Coffee can sits where the GLASS windshield washer reservoir originally was. Looks like the glass one’s correct holder strap does still exist but I don’t see the pump itself (also a Lid for the giant glass ‘pickle jar’).

      Like 2
  4. Fred W

    Unfortunately, I think most of the diehard Edsel aficianados who would at one time been willing to take this one on are no longer up to the task. Or willing to spend 7K for it.

    Like 4
  5. Arby

    It’s blind, nose missing, no teeth – maybe it qualifies for federal assistance….

    Like 4
  6. OIL SLICK

    nuts

  7. That Guy

    A nice, complete parts car will go a long way here. It definitely looks like a worthwhile project.

    Like 1
  8. Al

    I think it should be bronzed and displayed with a pair of bronzed baby shoes from the same era.

    Like 8
  9. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Air suspension…4 wheel disc brakes…suspension..bison leather interior…wheels …sound. Might as well restomod.

  10. Will Fox

    This one’s definitely gong to need a donor car for parts; and you’re best to try to locate another Citation, as I see many trim items specific to the model are missing as well. Front end pieces can be from ANY model. I’ve seen fully restored gold/white Citation cvts., and they are a sight to behold! Matching gold vinyl only accentuates the gadgetry of these beasts! Yes, it will take deep pockets to restore, but the end result will be a car that not only will hold its value, it will be worth more in time as well. The Edsel club has members that can be a fantastic source for information & parts for this. Very much worth a buyer’s time to check that out. These `58 Citations aren’t falling out of trees guys, and this represents probably THE top dog to invest in!

    Like 3
  11. Reg

    Does the seller have a lot of those parts in a garage somewhere?

    Like 2
  12. giraud.albert

    Clean title? Only worth parts without a clean title! LOL!

  13. RickyPelota

    Wonder if its got a “clean” title?

  14. Jon

    I like the spare tire placement, a design feature in the day Ford overlooked!

  15. Jay Guthridge

    At first glance,,,h umm.
    LOOKS LIKE THE
    BAT MOBILE,,,,,LOL

  16. RickiDick

    “CLEAN” title? LOL!

  17. pwtiger

    I don’t which is more frightening, looking for parts or digging into that old Lincoln engine and that teletouch nightmare. It would be a shame not to restore it but it might make more sense to do a resto-mod

  18. pugsy

    I just realized this car could be made to look pretty good. The stock face on these is hideous. However, the first pic shows a kind of mean looking car. I’d love to customize this thing, (along with almost every other “different” car I see).

    Like 2
  19. matt

    In the past, drag racers put ice or dry ice in a coffee can and coiled the fuel line through it to deliver cold gas to the engine. But, I don’t think this was a drag car.

    matt

  20. Stan Marks

    This reminds me of the old saying…..

    You Can Dress a Turd In A Tuxedo, But At The End Of The Day…

  21. Glenn Lueders

    This is the “Holy Grail of Edsels” – looks like a real Find! Many of the 76B unique parts appear to be there. One of 930 and appears to be relatively rust free. I put one of these together back in the 1980’s in similar condition, my first attempt to restore any car. A novice, with dedication and one year did the trick. You have to love a car like this or don’t attempt it. I’m sure glad I did it right!

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