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Cars > Blogs > Official Motortopia Blog > EdselMania in Omaha

 

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EdselMania in Omaha

By motortopia

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OMAHA - One Edsel driving down the street is a spectacle. There were close to 40 of them parked next to each other with the trunks and hoods popped open at the 41st annual Rally of the International Edsel Club in Omaha last week, culminating in the car show on Saturday.

Teams of judges carefully examined the interior, body, trunk and undercarriage of the cars. Style, vibrant colors and design separate Edsels from the other cars on the road, but that’s not what the judges were looking for. Authenticity is what separates winning Edsels from all the rest.

The turquoise or talisman red paint job isn’t enough to impress by itself, it has to match the original color of the car. Or the driver will lose points, said Marty Scott, the chief judge at the rally. The data plate on the inside of the driver’s door gives the vehicle’s original information.

But while the judging is going on most of the owners don’t seem to care. Sure everyone wants to win, but Edsel owners don’t take themselves too seriously.

“People who can love an Edsel are the ones who always root for the underdog in the Super Bowl,” said Jere Gauss, a retired Boeing engineer from Fresno, Calif. "You couldn't have an ego and own one of these cars."

Gauss' first Edsel was a Pacer that he got in 1977.

"I wanted a car that I could take care of and actually have it gain value," he said.

There aren’t that many surviving Edsels left, but almost all Edsel models – other than some of the station wagons - were on display in Omaha on Saturday.

Ford only produced the chain of cars for three years before they pulled the plug on the project in 1960. The Edsel was once hyped as the car of the future and its design was kept secret prior to its release. But the Edsel went down in history as one of the biggest financial failures in the auto industry.

There were a number of reasons the Edsels were doomed from the onset, including that it was introduced during a recession. The pricing confused the public; the larger, more expensive Corsairs and Citations were priced comparably to the top-of-the-line Mercury cars and the more affordable Rangers and Pacers were more expensive than the nicest Ford sedans.

In the late 1960s Gauss and another member of the IEC began putting tabs on all the Edsels left in the world. He estimates there are 3,500 drivable Edsels, 3,500 that can be made road-ready and another 3,500 gathering dust somewhere with useful parts.

Doug Hartmann, the head of the rally and an IEC member from Fremont, said the event surpassed expectations, and recent years attendance and participation.

“We’re real happy of the way it went,” Hartmann said. “Getting it to Omaha was kind of special.”

Earl W. Dorsey, an IEC member and Edsel owner from Illinois, visited Omaha for the rally. He didn’t bring his Edsel, be he still attends the annual event to see friends from across the country. Members of the IEC are kind of like a big family, he said, who only see each other for about four days a year.

Like many of the owners at Saturday’s rally, Dorsey was in the military and stationed overseas when the Edsel was introduced, so he missed all the hoopla leading up to its release.

“I can’t say much of the fanfare,” he said. “They were just so different I couldn’t help but notice them.”

He travels to rallies because of the camaraderie shared between the owners. Even when his travels are not Edsel-related, he still carries a list of IEC members.

“If I have a problem I can call someone from the club,” Dorsey said. “They’re all very quick to assist.”

It’s a shame, Dorsey said, that there aren’t that many younger Edsel enthusiasts in the world today. There are some important life lessons that people can learn while working on a brightly-colored automobile with a notoriously corky reputation.

They can learn from Edsel owners, who, despite having cars Americans once laughed at, have found a niche in the world of vintage cars and given The Edsel a respectable reputation. Which is more than the Ford Motors Company could ever do.

“All the money in the world, it doesn’t guarantee success,” Dorsey said.

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 8 of 8

rhonda’s Profile Photo
rhonda
Jul 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm
Wow, that is awesome!
 
K1M_and_J1M’s Profile Photo
K1M_and_J1M
Jul 29, 2009 at 10:47 am
When I was a little guy knee high to a grasshopper I was facinated by the Edsel!
I am not sure why but that huge tall grille was cool looking and i could almost walk inside it!
I was also one who thought the buttons on the steering column were really neat and futuristic which of course I was into anything futuristic looking!

My late Mother's Boss and company owner Mrs Boxley in Ohio who she stayed friends with even after she had gotten married and moved to Massachusettes had one.
She had a Hugh Home with other Big cars. A couple Cadillac's with big fins that seemed to never end were others as well.

But that Edsel caught my eye for years.
I asked my Dad if we could get one and he just snickered and said, No, I don't think so Jim.

Not realizing we had a collectible car as it was, A 56 Chevy Nomad! But to me it was just a station wagon.

When your to young ya just never know what ya got!
Thanks for the Blog and the Album on them!

Jim B
 
alwaysakid’s Profile Photo
alwaysakid
Jul 28, 2009 at 10:52 am
I meant to come down and check this out, but forgot. I have no desire to own an Edsel, but love to see them. Thanks for posting the photo album so I didn't miss it totally.
By the way, I went to the Studebaker national meet held in Omaha a couple years ago, and now I own my first Studebaker!
 
JerryandMary’s Profile Photo
JerryandMary
Jul 28, 2009 at 12:17 am
Edsel's were Mercury's that did not make it. LOL I would have liked to see the show.

Jerry
 
canadianpontiacguy’s Profile Photo
canadianpontiac
guy
Jul 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm
I always liked the "excesses", as some would call it, of the Edsel styling!
Unfortunately, most car buyers in 1958 and 1959 didn't seem to agree, and stayed away from the showroom, sealing it's doom!
 
CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
CorvairJim
Jul 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm
I've got to check out this album. Like other orphan car owners, Corvair people feel sympathy for cars that got a bum rap. The Edsel had several innovations -- How about pushbutton shifting in the steering wheel hub, where the hub didn't rotate with the wheel!
 
FriedGreenTMater’s Profile Photo
FriedGreenTMate
r
Jul 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm
I've always found Edsels and Studes interesting. Never owned either though.
 
GoldyLocks’s Profile Photo
GoldyLocks
Jul 27, 2009 at 9:38 am
What a great show this was. Great car! Glad to have this in the Midwest.
 

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Cars > Blogs > Official Motortopia Blog > EdselMania in Omaha

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