The History Lesson
This week back in 1960, the last Edsel automobile rolled off Ford’s assembly line. It was the 1950s, and Ford Motors decided it wanted something new: A car line that was just a step up in price and coolness from its cheapest jalopies. It was a good idea. Which Ford followed with a bunch of bad ideas.
First, the company designed the new car to be large — even though people were starting to demand small cars. Then, Ford decided to produce hundreds of thousands of the things — just as a recession hit and people started buying less. And then there was the name: “Edsel.” After Henry Ford’s only child. ‘Cause, you know, nothing says “cool new car” like “Edsel.”
But Ford got one thing right: marketing. Before the car’s release, they plastered TV and magazines with ads promising a vehicle unlike anything anyone had ever seen. In photos it was always out of focus, or hidden under sheets. The day the Edsel went on sale, customers flocked to dealerships to get their minds blown!
No dice. Except for an O-shaped front grille, the Edsel didn’t seem much different than other cars. Critics said it looked like quote “An Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon.” Sales got so bad, dealers started offering an incentive: Buy an Edsel, get entered in a rafflde to win a pony.
It didn’t help. In November 1960, after just three years of production, Ford gave up on Edsels. Adjusted for inflation? The company lost 2 billion bucks. The good news? So few were made, they’re collector’s items. A mint example of the car nobody wanted to buy — can go for 200 grand.
As gassed up by Robert M. Nelson, entertainer, and bartender at Cafe D’Mongo’s Speakeasy in Detroit, MI:
Combine in a highball glass:
- 1.5 oz gin (alter to taste)
- 1 oz. cream… or soy milk
- Top with Vernor’s Ginger Ale (the nation’s oldest soft drink, invented in Detroit in 1866)
If you really want to get into the spirit – stir with a rusty transmission shaft or a dipstick. Drink it down and proudly fail.