Sunday, December 4, 2016

What if… Edsel had its own version of the Thunderbird?

[Editor’s Note: Daniel Lindquist of KDC Garage not only has some interesting ideas about alternate automotive histories, he can also render those histories in Photoshop and form a narrative around them. One of his latest: an Edsel-flavored Thunderbird.]

The Ford Thunderbird began life in 1953 as a direct response to Chevrolet’s recently unveiled Corvette prototype. Calling in some major players in the design field, the Thunderbird rapidly developed from idea to prototype in about a year. Ford was very pleased to see record-breaking sales of the Thunderbird reach 23 times the number of Corvettes sold in 1955.

With a new Edsel Corsair model staged for production in 1958, Edsel saw the great success and popularity of the Thunderbird as a viable platform for a mid-level entry personal luxury car within the Ford corporate lineup below the top-of-the-line Continental. In 1956, borrowing the Thunderbird’s basic frame and removable hardtop roof, Edsel had its design team rush to create a prototype similar to the Thunderbird in length, though being slightly heftier in general proportions to fit the fresh styling of the new Corsair.

Edsel was so confident it had a winner, that an operable prototype of the car was driven to a meeting with Ford execs where it was touted that the new Raven model would provide a bit more headroom and elbow room than the Thunderbird, and offer even more luxury options at mid-level pricing. Edsel also went on to elaborate how Ford could then focus more attention to racing applications of the Thunderbird as to be more competitive against the Corvette.

However Ford execs, fearing diluting the market for such a popular vehicle as the Thunderbird, quickly axed the project, and this specially made prototype was presumably destined for scrap. Edsel continued with its full-sized Corsair as planned for the 1958 model year. Though, sadly, on November 19, 1959, Ford discontinued the Edsel marque and the last Edsel car soon rolled off the assembly line.


Canted Quads: Lincoln’s 1958 Models Offered A New Twist To Headlamps

1958 Lincoln Premiere; image by the author.

The Lincoln marque can invoke a variety of opinions regarding its status in the domestic luxury car market, especially the Continentals. First-person accounts of the lengthy masterpieces are continuously conveyed, each slightly different due to the different tastes and automotive generation variants. Take, for instance, our featured 1958 Premiere, which was positioned between the base Capri and top-of-the-line Continental Mark III.
At Lincoln, engineers and stylists had the monumental task of completely revamping the entire 1958 Lincoln line. They eliminated the use of a full frame, and built the new Lincolns utilizing unit-body construction. This posed several teething problems, especially for the convertibles.

One of the more notable issues was the required use of extra heavy bracing, no matter the body style, bringing the total curb weight up to the 5,000-pound mark virtually overnight. Lincoln was trying to surpass Cadillac as the luxury leader, so the car was phenomenally long: 229 inches overall. It effectively vaulted the famed badge into the automotive history books as they became the longest unit-body car ever produced (it’s not the longest ever, as several full-frame cars from the late 1930s surpass it).

However, one of the more memorable features of the 1958 Lincolns is the canted dual headlamps. The use of dual lamps, in states where it was legal, had begun in earnest the year prior. Lincoln, rather than using side-by-side bezels in 1957, opted for stacked units in a fashion similar to that of a later 1963 Pontiac or a 1965 Ford.

Chief stylist John Najjar had observed the styling cues from the other luxury makes: Cadillac had the tendency to sport round lines, thanks in part to their P-38-inspired fins; Chrysler could attribute its wedge shape to a low nose and tall fins. Lincoln, thus, took on the position of sporting what was described as “aggressive angularity.”

The angle of the stacked headlamps during the three-year run that began with our 1958 model year really had no advantage when it came to night driving. Likewise, there was no structural motivation for the design. Essentially, the new angular look to the front end of the Lincolns required protection in the form of a redesigned bumper. The sharp design of the front fenders had a substantial roll. Some might recall the term “dog bone” when referring to the look of the grille and bumper, yet you can clearly see how the canted lamps would not be able to fit in a true vertical assembly.

Najjar was quoted in an interview appearing in Special Interest Autos (January/February 1997, #157) regarding the styling: “The most troublesome design area of the Lincoln appeared at the front fenders, which canted inboard with the headlamps and the need to protect the sheet metal with the bumper. It ended up looking much like its nickname, ‘dog bone,’ but it met the need for the proper package protection.”

As mentioned, Lincoln utilized the canted headlamp design until the substantially more popular 1961 redesign. That’s not to say that other manufacturers didn’t try to capture the racy look with better success. Buick, for instance, featured canted headlamps in every 1959 model, but reverted back to side-by-side configuration the following year. Chrysler blended the design element into its 1961 and 1962 lineup, as well. De Soto, in its abbreviated year of 1961, also featured canted headlamps.

In the end, styling predictions that had been set into motion during the mid-Fifties did not come into fruition to the degree that the Lincoln front office hoped for. Most know that 1958 was not exactly a banner year for Detroit to begin with, and the sharp, angular styling of 1958 was gradually toned down over the next two model years as Lincoln sales continued to plummet.

This article originally appeared in the February, 2008 issue of Hemmings Motor News.


1959 Edsel Ranger

1959 Edsel
The photography in the ad here on eBay for this 1959 Edsel Ranger leaves a lot to be desired due to poor resolution, but if I squint closely enough I see a pretty decent resurrected barn find looking for a new owner. It’s located in Amarillo, Texas and has been recently put back on the road after a 20 year storage period.

I’m not sure why it’s so hard for some sellers to just get the entire car in at least one 3/4 view picture. However, this shot does highlight the “new” tires fitted when the car was put into storage 20 years ago. The seller tells us that before the car was placed into storage, the engine was rebuilt and a new clutch, brakes, master cylinder were installed in addition to the tires. In the last two months, the seller has flushed the gas tank, installed a new fuel pump, disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the brakes and installed a new water pump and battery.

The seller has now driven the car 100 miles since recommissioning it. You can see some of the rust issues here in this closeup shot, fairly typical. The car is showing 127,445 miles–kudos to the seller for not trying to represent it as 27,445. There were 7,778 Edsel Ranger 2-door sedans made in 1959, and you can bet not too many have survived. I’m sure everyone knows the story of the Edsel marketing disaster for Ford; it was still being used as an example of what not to do in my business schoolwork in the early 2000’s.

I’m curious as to why the well-worn steering wheel is showing red, black and green; I’m guessing they were primed and painted? The rear seat and possibly even the carpet could be cleaned, and the trunk looks pretty good, even the original mat is fine for a driver/weekend cruiser. I’m guessing the front upholstery under the blanket isn’t too good. It does appear that seat materials are available, so maybe you could leave the back seat alone and redo the front one.

I was surprised to find an inline 6 under the hood rather than a V-8. And just look at that air cleaner setup! Apparently that is original as I was able to find other 1959’s with the same setup online. If it was stored correctly after the rebuild and started up sympathetically, there’s no reason to believe it’s not in fine shape. Someone’s already done the hardest work getting this car started and running–do any of you want to take over from here?


Thursday, November 10, 2016

1993 Lincoln Town Car

Click Here to see this Lincoln Limo and to view other photo's.


1941 Lincoln Continental Convertible

Click Here to read all about this Lincoln and to view other photo's.


1993 Lincoln MK 8

Click Here to read all about this Mark VIII and to view other pictures.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible

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A genuine barn find about a year ago after decades in storage, this 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible is a runner, but not a driver. It’s located in Kingston, Wisconsin and is up for sale here on eBay, where bidding is up to $4,300 and there’s no reserve, so it will find a new owner this week!

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You can see some pretty obvious dents in the rear fender here. The seller tells us the body is pretty decent, but there are some issues with the rear quarters and floors. The seller notes that there is a previous repair on the driver’s floor, but that they don’t think it’s rust-related.

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The clean lines of this generation Continental are very well known, and the black paint, even in poor condition really helps the appearance even more. The brightwork doesn’t look that great, but is intact at least and looks straight.

The tires have been replaced with a used set of whitewalls, and the top mechanism partially works. There is no top itself, though, and the hydraulic mechanism appears to be disconnected. The seller tells us that the 430 cubic inch V8 engine now runs well after a timing gear and chain replacement, but the valve stem seals appear to be gone as the engine smokes while it’s running. The seller also mentions a coolant leak that they haven’t been able to identify yet, although they briefly took the car up to 60 miles per hour. They also mention issues with the power brake booster as the diaphragm has torn due to old age. The seller has also replaced the factory intake manifold and two barrel carburetor with a different one and a four barrel carb, but they are including the original parts with the auction.

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The interior looks like it could use a lot of help. There is no rear seat; the seller theorizes that it was taken out to work on the top mechanism and somehow got separated from the rest of the car. It looks like the front seat might be salvageable for a driver. Would you like to be driving this relatively inexpensive (at the moment) American luxury convertible?