Most of you undoubtedly remember the original post on this rather novel ’59 Edsel. It ran almost exactly two years ago, after I found it on the street. The story was picked up by a number of blogs, and it’s become a bit of a celebrity. And I continue to see it on the streets, confirming its regular use. But at the time, it was very much a work in progress, so when I stumbled upon it parked at Randall’s home, I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up and see how it’s progressed. The answer is very well indeed:
Perhaps it wasn’t quite clear enough in the original article, but this is Randall’s only car, his daily driver. Thus, creating a ’59 Edsel that would be drastically more efficient and economical, powerful, better handling, and reliable was the over-arching priority. And doing it all on a shoe-string budget as well. Randall’s car has met these goals very well: he’s put over 25k miles on it in the past two years, and has taken it on numerous long-distance trips, including to Southern California as well as bouncing along rough back roads in the Alvord Desert in Eastern Oregon. This is not your typical Sunday car show classic, by any stretch. And my hat’s off to Randal for that.
In the past two years, the 1988 Ford 2.3 L turbo four has been upgraded and refined, so that it’s an impeccable runner, and both a powerful and thrifty one. A Megasquirt controller now runs the fuel injection, which also has new and improved injectors. Randall has been able to optimize all aspects of the engine’s operations to his satisfaction.
The engine he picked up for $200 didn’t include the intercooler, and he did without initially. But he’s added a fat aftermarket unit (designed for a twin-turbo Nissan 300 Z), and it’s made a substantial difference. Power is up, to an estimated 200 hp net, and that’s without increasing the boost. That’s more than adequate for the job, as the Edsel is not as heavy as one might assume, weighing an estimated 3600-3700 lbs. In fact, traction in corners when accelerating is a bit of problem, and high on the wish list is a new rear axle with limited-slip as well as a lower (higher numerical) ratio, to allow better use of fifth gear. Currently, fifth is pretty useless below 65 mph.
Despite that, the Edsel can readily average 20 mpg, attaining 24 mpg under ideal highway conditions. That’s a solid 100% improvement over what the 292 Y-block V8 delivered in contemporary tests. And performance is substantially better too, as the 292 made about 160 hp net, and weighed several hundred pounds more.
Randall continues to make improvements to make the car a more livable daily driver but without changing its looks. Like the sequential LED tail-lights. The dashboard clock is getting a new quartz movement. He’s rigged up the radio with an ipod interface, using the existing push-buttons as controllers (I lost some of the details of that…). New tires with vulcanized whitewalls replaced the painted-on ones. And the Edsel keeps racking up the miles.
But Randall is starting to think about the next project car, which will be a turbo too. Like maybe converting an early-eighties Firebird Turbo TA to modern electronic fuel injection and engine controls. Or an Eco-Boost squarebird. Or…