Under Appreciated: 1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible

1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible

On paper, the Edsel brand sounded like a great idea to the people at Ford. They were looking to expand their product lineup to better compete with Chevrolet. Edsel was meant to fill the price gap between base Ford models and the up market Mercury brand. The new brand was supposed to be an entirely new kind of car, but instead turned out to be a massive flop. Edsel sales were dismal and after just three years, Ford shut down the company. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that people started noticing Edsels. Their styling make them stand out from the sea of ’57 Chevys and being a Ford product means most parts are available. They still haven’t gained mainstream popularity, but convertible models are starting to gain in value and interest. This ’58 Edsel Pacer Convertible was recently pulled from a barn and has since been listed here on eBay. If the seller’s reserve isn’t set much higher than the current $5,000 bid, it could turn out to be a great buy!

Edsel V8

As with any car, there are things to watch out for when buying an Edsel. The Pacer came with Edsel’s 361 cui V8, the E400, which was rated at 303 horsepower. All that power was routed through their Tele-Touch transmission, which had gear selector buttons built into the steering wheel and is the weakest link in the drivetrain. The seller claims both the engine and transmission were rebuilt at some point and that the transmission works as it should. Ford had gone to great lengths to market the Edsel as being the future of the automobile, and while buyers didn’t see it that way in 1958, things like gear selection from the steering wheel is something seen on nearly all modern day sports and super cars. It might have been a failure back when it was new, but maybe Ford wasn’t so far off base with the Edsel. Perhaps it was poor execution, questionable build quality, or maybe it was just too advanced for its time.

Edsel Pacer interior

The seller claims this one is an original survivor, but that maintenance work and some restoration work has already been done to it. The interior looks mostly original, but we are going to guess that it has been partially restored already. We are alright with some restoration work being done, as long as it was done correctly and preferably done by a professional. The seller admits it has an amateur paint job, but thankfully white is fairly forgiving. We would want to inspect the work that’s been done to it carefully. If the amateur work that’s been done is just cosmetic, than it shouldn’t be much of a concern.

Edsel Pacer Barn Find

We love how different the Edsels are and we are glad they are starting to receive some respect, but at the same time it makes us a bit sad to see them enter the mainstream market. Unlike most of the cheaper oddballs we find, we foresee these going up in value until they are out of our realm of affordability. This could be great news if you already have one, but for the rest of us it means we will have to enjoy the quirky Edsel styling and technology from a distance. Let’s just hope we are wrong and that these won’t inflate much more. We will keep our eye on this auction and the Edsel market as a whole to see where it goes from here.

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Comments

  1. Don Andreina

    Someone on BF alerted me to the recreation of the original Edsel nose done by an enthusiast. Thanks again. I’d take a ’60 myself. $5k, even $10k seems awfully cheap for a 50s convertible; is that nameplate still a barrier to purchase?

  2. Rick

    The Edsel wasn’t a bad car, in fact was just as dependable as it’s Ford and Mercury bretheren, because that’s essentially wht it was underneath.However, one reason attributed to Edsel’s failure was that the U.S. went into a severe economic recession in 1958 (the year of Edsel’s launch) and auto sales declined over 30% from the previous year, in fact auto sales had their worst year since WW II. Plus it’s radical (at the time) styling likely didn’t help sales either – it was often jokingliy referred to as a “lemon sucking Oldsmoblie” a reference to it’s center front grille.

    • paul

      The nose is what did it in as I recall & years later I read the design was supposed to resemble a female part. Fact or fiction?

      • Don Andreina

        I don’t think the resemblance was deliberate. I think ‘horse collar’ was the polite description.

      • jim s

        your all three right, i think.

    • David G

      Truth is, there are a myriad of issues leading up to the Edsel’s demise, of which you accurately touched on a few. 2 books in particular pull back the veil to reveal most of the warts within E-car project as it was called within FoMoCo, and there were many (took 2 books + to cover the debacle) including unsavory sabotaging behaviors *within FoMoCo* before the car was even introduced. I’ve personally always keyed its failure lock mostly with the fact that Robert McNamara, CFO *and* Vice President in charge of the Ford Division of FoMoCo at the time (obviously well before his stint as JFK’s Secretary of Defense), didn’t like the car from the onset. I’ve heard that RM was quoted at a pre-public introductory press conference as answering the question (paraphrasing now) ‘What do YOU think of the new FoMoCo baby?’ with a very telling ‘Not much, I’ve already got plans for its demise..’ But that said, i’ve also felt that the 58 Edsels present very well, from all views except the frontal ! After 35 years of Edsel ownership, still haven’t managed to find much ‘beauty’ up there. For those at all interested, pick up a copy of either “The Edsel Affair” the Edsel Division’s (yes Ford set up a separate division for a year or so) Public Relations director C. Gayle Warnock. Second book is more technically and professionally written as “Disaster in Dearborn” by Thomas E. Bonsall…

      • paul

        I’ve always liked the odd cars a sort of escape from the norm & the same, same, you always see at auto shows, the 3 cyl. Saabs, Corvairs, etc., this car falls into that catagory, my one exception is the Bangle butt 7 BMW’s, if the bin price doesn’t go too high, this would be a great Friday night cruise car.

  3. John Allison

    They claim “ORIGINAL” but new paint, no wiper arms, seat redone, and Unknown Mileage rebuilt engine and tranny? Not really a barn find?? OH! And unknown rust issues!
    PASS! :(

    Like 1
  4. jim s

    $7988 bid and reserve not met yet but this still would make a real nice driver or daily driver. i remember all the build up to edsels going on sale. went with my dad to the new local dealership that had no indoor showroom and an offsite service department ( the ford dealer owned the franchise, but could not have them for sale on the same lot. i think ). the edsels may have been a flop but ford rebounded very nicely with the falcon and mustang.

  5. Dave

    I’m glad they are slowly gaining in value, because if you think of it, if they didn’t go up in value, then people will not spend the money to restore one because they’ll feel they can’t get their money back from it. It will cost much more to restore, than it’s worth. Which will mean eventually they will all end up in the junkyard, lost and forgotten. I happen to be one of those people who happen to like the Edsel, and wouldn’t mind owning one someday.

    Like 1
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    This is one ‘horse collar’ I wouldn’t mind owning. A ’58 convertible doesn’t come along all that often. But I’d sure exercise some caution; up close and personal with this car would be mandatory. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of amateur paint jobs hiding super rustouts.

  7. Dirty Dingus McGee

    11K and reserve not met.

    I think, given the issues others have pointed out, I would want a lot of documentation on the work already done, to justify much more $$ for it.

  8. jim s

    i found this 4 dr which has a 6cyl/3 on the tree,from the factory,i think. it is at $710 with reserve not met. needs some work to be a driver.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Edsel-Ranger-4-door-1959-Ford-Edsel-Ranger-4-Dr-Classic-Car-/261408666624?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3cdd2bb400&item=261408666624&pt=US_Cars_Trucks

  9. Dolphin Member

    Seems to me this is a case of ‘Barn find’ spamming. But the car looks worth having, even with that horse collar grille—which is what Ford intended it to look like. I guess at the time nobody at Ford thought of sucking lemons, or maybe Robert McNamara did but Henry II overruled him.

    I’m surprised how appealing it looks to me now, especially since I have never been much of a fan of these. Must be the late-’50s style that it radiates, since I respond much more positively now to pretty much all late-’50s cars than I did when they were new. And the red+white color sceme certainly helps bigtime.

    The ‘amateur paint job’ does raise a big red flag, so careful inspection, including with a paint guage or a magnet is essential. But that said, the underside looks really good for a car this old. One thing about Manitoba, Canada, where it seems to have spent it’s driving life. It’s real cold there most of every winter. Today it was at minus 30 C and lower, which is in the same ballpark as minus 30 F. At those temps it does almost no good to salt the roads, so they don’t, much. This car might have excaped the worst effects of Canadian winters, or it might have been garaged most winters. It looks like it fared way better than it would have in Ontario or Quebec winters, and the underside shot seems to bear that out.

    I’m with those who think this might be a real good buy somewhere around where the bidding is now (=$11K), but there are almost 6 days left and the reserve hasn’t been hit. I’m betting that it goes for a fair bit more than that number, and that the buyer will be happy.

  10. Charles

    As long as it is not a rust bucket, it could be a decent weekend cruiser. The way prices keep climbing on the 50’s stuff, providing this particular car is not hiding anything bad, it will probably make a decent investment. I’m with the rest of you. A close inspection is in order to make a determination. The amature paint does not scare me, as long as it’s not hiding crumpled news paper and chicken wire.

    • Jim-Bob

      Agreed. Sometimes, amateur paint and body work is better than “professional”- it all depends on the individual doing the work. Sometimes owners have a lot more attention to detail than volume shops do and will do far better rust repairs than someone doing piece work. For example, most shops will not seal the back side of a newly welded in rust repair patch because of the time involved while some amateurs (like myself) will paint and rustproof the back side. So far as value goes, I can easily see this one passing $25,000. It’s a 1950’s convertible in a nice color scheme and is a significant car-if only in it’s infamy.

  11. Rich Member

    Guys, help me out….How much of a finder’s fee would I pay someone to locate a car I was interested in purchasing? Is there a percentage based on the price of the car? Flat fee? Thanks for any input.

    • Brian

      Humm, I don’t believe that I have ever heard of a standard fee. I guess it depends on the cost of the car and how badly you wanted to find a certain make or model. Is the finder is a friend or a stranger? Did you advertise looking for a car or did you just mention to someone you met at a car show that you wanted something and they knew of a car or stumbled onto one for you? If it were me, and you were local and I was able to turn you onto a car that I knew was available, I wouldn’t expect more than a genuine thank you. If someone is asking for money to give you the owner’s contact info so you can pursue a car, I’m not interested. If your located in a salt area and working with someone you know and trust to find a rust free car for you, I’d just ask how much would you charge to find a good ’56 whatever for me. If they already found a car for you and you already bought it, you might just pick up a nice gift and send along their way. If this is a car guy, tools or project parts are always appreciated! I’d spend on the gift based on my level of appreiciation as well as what I could afford.
      I doubt I answered your question, but just a few thoughts.

  12. MikeW

    I would expect the reserve to go over $15k as Old Cars Price Guide has the convertible model close to early Mustang converts in value. More info on Edsels here. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/edselmail

  13. JMT NC

    Interesting. While I wouldn’t exactly call the Edsel beautiful, to me it is far better looking than the 1958 Ford, Mercury, Olds or Buick (which may not be saying much!). What 1958 American car was beautiful? The Chrysler 300, maybe the Imperial. Possibly the Eldo Brougham in a glitzy sort of way. Not much else, to my eyes.

    • Brian

      I’m thinking that the Edsel, as well as most of the ‘58 cars, are sorts like raisins and honey on a peanut butter sandwich; you either like it or you don’t. I’d have to say that I think the prettiest ’58s were not single year body style: 58 Studebaker Hawks, ’58 Vette, ’58 Thurderbird, 58 Plymouths, 58 Lincoln line. I do like the ’58 Ford although the styling got alittle busy compared to ’57 and ’59. I recently met a ’58 Buick Roadmaster that surprised me because I’d never cared for the styling, but the luxury of it got my attention. True that the designers went alittle over the top in ’58, but it sort of defined the era.

    • paul

      58 Vette is pretty cool as well.

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