1959 Edsel Corsair Convertible

 

1959 Edsel Corsair

1959 Edsel Corsair

Ford Motor Company’s 1959 Edsel line of cars were centered around the Corsair, Ranger and wagons.

The year 1959 was the second of three years for the Edsel line. All Edsel’s were built at either Ford or Mercury plants. There never were dedicated Edsel factories. This fact in itself caused some concern at the plants since every so often when an Edsel rolled down the line things like trim, wiring , etc had to be switched.

The beautifully restored car shown in this article is the 1959 Edsel Corsair Convertible. There was a bit of restyling from the 1958 models. Most of this involved a more unified grille, restyled taillights and a redesign of the side trim. Many said that the 59′s were a bit more chromier than the 58 models.

Classic Edesl grille

Classic Edesl grille

A Car Named After Edsel Ford

The Edsel line of cars from 1958 to 1960 were named after Edsel Ford. Many will remember two things about  Edsel Ford. One was that he prodded his father, Henry Ford, to make changes and modernization updates to his automobiles, often after quite a struggle. The senior Ford had a reputation of resisting change, even after smart competitive changes were already in place at his competitors. The hydraulic braking system is just one example. Edsel Ford is credited with pushing modernization at Ford Motor after becoming president of the company. Some might say that without Edsel’s insistence on more modernization  Ford Motor Company may have fell prey to General Motors or Chrysler.

The second thing people may remember about Edsel Ford was his premature death in May 1943 at the age of 49. Ford died after contracting a fever after stomach cancer surgery,

Edsel Corsair Convertible side trim

Edsel Corsair Convertible side trim

The Short Life of the Edsel

In many ways the failure of the Edsel line has been overdone. Most point out that any new car line which had a life span of only three years was nothing short of a disaster. Financially it was a sort of disaster for Ford since they reportedly invested some $250 million in the car. This was $250 million in 1958 money. Many say that the failure of Edsel almost bankrupted Ford.

So what happened with the Edsel? The target buyer for the car according to Ford Motor was the young professional who may have outgrown the regular Ford line but not enough so to be able to get into a Mercury. The plan was that the Edsel would keep them in a Ford built vehicle while they waited for the money to be able to purchase a higher end Mercury and thus keeping from losing them to Chrysler or General Motors in the meantime. Doesn’t sound like a bad plan.

Edsel Corsair front seat and dashboard

Edsel Corsair front seat and dashboard

Ford Motor Company spent a great deal of money on marketing research before designing the Edsel. The feedback received from the target buyer group essentially said that they wanted something aviation looking which was in vogue during the mid 50′s. They also desired a hood and grille that brought back images of pre World War Two automobiles.

Links to additional interesting late 1950′s photo articles on AutoMuseumOnline include the 1959 Ford Fairlane Retractable Hardtop and the 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible.

1959 Edsel Specs

The 1959 Edsel had a length of 210.9 inches. The wheelbase was 120.0 inches. The vehicles weight was about 3,700 lbs and the new car price was between $2,800 and $3,100. The costliest model in the line was the Corsair Convertible like the one shown here at about $3,100.

Standard in the 1959 Edsel Corsairs were Ford’s 332 cid V-8 engine. Optional was the 361 cid.

Edsel name on 1959 Corsair side trim

Edsel name on 1959 Corsair side trim

To give you an idea of Edsel car production figures, during the 1958 model year, which was Edsel’s first, there were a total of a little over 60,000 units  built. A total of about 2,800 units were convertibles. These were Pacer and Citation convertibles. During the 1959 model year, Ford built a total of 47,300 Edsels out of which about 1,300 were Corsair Convertibles. This of course makes the 1959 Edsel Corsair Convertible a rare find today. During the 1960 model year, Edsel’s last, the company built only about 2,800 Edsel units with about 75 of them being convertibles. So ends the story of the Edsel line of automobiles.

(Photos from author’s private collection)

1942 Packard Limousine

 

1942 Packard Limousine

1942 Packard Limousine

The 1942 Packard Clipper models, including the limousine shown here, were produced over a matter of just a few months. As it turned out, this was the last year in which Packard would offer a rolling chassis for limousines and it’s custom coachwork on such extended chassis. After that, limousines were built by simply stretching a sedan’s chassis.

The Packard Clippers had a very short production lifespan during the Pre World War Two years. The 1942 models began production in August of 1941 and stopped in February 1942 due to President Roosevelt’s prohibition of civilian car production during the war years.  When America entered World War Two, the Packard Motor Car Company built military vehicles in it’s factories.

1942 Packard Clipper Limousine

1942 Packard Clipper Limousine

The Packard Motor Car Company

The Packard Motor Car Company was formed in 1903 by Ward Packard. By the year 1909 Packard was considered among America’s major automakers. Packard had built a reputation as a luxury auto builder and was one of the premiere luxury automakers prior to 1937. In fact, by 1925 Packard was the American leader in luxury automobiles. The company which actually built it’s first car in Warren Ohio in 1899 as the Ohio Automobile Company had outlasted several of their competitors during the 1930′s. The Great depression nevertheless had a strong impact on Packard. To give you an example, Packard sold about 7,000 vehicles during the 1934 model year compared to more than 50,000 during the 1928 model year. Big vehicles took a big hit during the Depression years.

The Start of the Popular Packard Clipper Models

In 1941 Packard introduced what was called the “Clipper” model with the most powerful production engines of the time. The Packard Clipper was one of those models introduced mid year in April of 1941. There were only a bit over 16,000 1941 Clippers built and then with the start of World War Two and the civilian vehicle prohibition put into effect by President Roosevelt, only a few thousand of the 1942 Packards were produced.

 

1942 Packard Clipper Limousine front grille design

1942 Packard Clipper Limousine front grille design

To give you an idea of the pent up demand unleashed after the war, there were over 30,000 Packards built for the 1946 model year with over 1,200 of these being Packard limousines. The sales of the Clipper series were very successful. Clipper outsold both LaSalle and Cadillac. That was quite an accomplishment.

The 1942 Packard Custom Limousine shown in this article is on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque New Mexico. This particular car was built between August 25, 1941 and February 7, 1942 at the Packard factory in Detroit Michigan. This car was the sixty-sixth of the Clipper Six Twentieth Series. The automobile was then sent to the Fitzjohn Coach Company in Muskegon Michigan to be made into a limousine. Fitzjohn cut the Clipper in half and added six feet to it’s length using ash wood. The coach builder added three bench seats and side doors. Out of the very few 1942 Packard models built prior to the war, the Fitzjohn Coach Company converted one hundred into limousines.

1942 Packard Limousine wood grain dashboard

1942 Packard Limousine wood grain dashboard

The Fitzjohn Coach Company was founded in 1919 for the purpose of building bus and truck bodies. The company offered an eight door limousine as early as 1935. The company had also built the coach works for a twenty-one passenger bus built on a Ford AA truck chassis. The bus had a wheelbase of 157 inches.

1942 Packard Limousine Specs

The 1942 Packard Clipper had sleek modern lines which was a carryover from the new styling that took hold in 1941. The body of the Clipper had been designed by the legendary automobile designer Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin. The limousine models had a fixed divider with a retractable privacy window. The front seat had leather upholstery for more durability. The back had a fixed bench seat as well as a jump seat. The interior typically had wood grain paneling. The 1942 Packard Clipper was the most luxurious of Packard’s pre-war models.

The Packard Clipper limousines had a 148 inch wheelbase and a length of 236.5 inches. The 1942 Packard Clipper had an eight cylinder inline engine. Vehicle weight came in at about 4,900 lbs.

Links to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you’ll also enjoy are the 1941 Packard Darrin Victoria and the story of the Stutz-Bearcat.

(Photos from author’s collection)