How could I resist this at the Cohort, posted by Fred Oliver? I’ve always had an irresistible attraction to motorhomes cobbled together out of an old car, but this is the first Edsel I’ve ever come across. What a three-eyed beast!
Sadly, Fred didn’t take (or post) shots of the camper on back in its full glory, so we’ll have to use our imaginations. Its plywood sheathing is starting to deteriorate, but then so is the Edsel. This is a Corsair, or the lower-trim variant of the senior Edsels, with a 124″ wheelbase and a 410 cubic inch MEL V8, rated at 345 gross hp. So a power deficit there wasn’t the issue here.
Speaking of, there’s little doubt in my mind that one of the main appeals of these conversions was that the big cars invariably used had big V8 engines and automatics, unlike most of the pickups at the time. Why not ride in comfort and with plenty of power if you’re going to drive off into the sunset?
Speaking of convenience, the Edsel’s steering wheel hub mounted push buttons for the automatic were very close at hand, and the hub was stationary. But in reality, the “Teletouch” system ended up being quite problematic, starting with the fact that it really wasn’t ergonomic at all, as one had to look down and at a very close focal point to make out the buttons. But mostly the system was just unreliable; issues with the relays, switches and wiring. It was…the Edsel of transmission shifters.
These are not usually my thing, but I find this one kind of cool. When this was built it would probably have been hard to find a cheaper car to start with.
The keys are in it, but it looks like it’s out of gas. Looking at that dash, I am wondering about those pull-knobs over the radio – those do not look stock.
Would the keys be at the right of the steering wheel? I thought all ’58 Fords had it at the left side.
But this is an Edsel. In 2015 I posted a report about cars from the Blue Suede Cruise in Tupelo, Mississippi. Among them is a ’58 Edsel. The ignition switch is on the right side of the steering column, the same place as seen here.
Thanks! I meant that I thought all Ford products were that way…obviously not.
An odd car made even odder.
At Chrysler, the stylists controlled the car over the objections of the engineers. At Ford, the gimmick marketers controlled the Edsel over the objections of the engineers. Both situations resulted in setbacks for each company.
The Edsel wasn’t special. It was a fancy Ford/Mercury. What set it apart was the kind of marketing ideas found in the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser. These marketing gimmick cars had “neat-o” ideas that just didn’t work, or turned out to be impractical. The Edsel looked like it was a Ford designed by people who didn’t like Fords. There was no logical reason for the way an Edsel looked. All car companies can be faulted for this, yet the Edsel had nothing else to recommend it over either a Ford or a Mercury. The Edsel was weird for the sake of just being weird.
Finally, the interior was filled with Turnpike Cruiser “neat-o” ideas that offered nothing to improve the car. Other cars do this as well. There are no reasons why any Pontiac needed to offer rear spoilers that were double finned, campfire orange gauges, or dashboards that were designed with round cookie cutters. There is no reason for an entertaining speedometer. There is no reason for what made an Edsel, and Edsel.
Worse, the gimmicks made things worse. The windshield vent scoops with the fake radio antennas leaked on the Turnpike Cruiser, the air suspensions didn’t hold air very long, the teletouch transmission didn’t engage, and the trunks filled with water when it rained. The very gimmicks that made these cars, unmade these cars. The Edsel raised expectations, then very famously, didn’t meet those expectations. This was a car that had its own television special starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, yet there was absolutely nothing special about the car itself. Cringe.
Can you imagine the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Doris Day hosting a television special for the 1965 AMC Ambassador? Thankfully, AMC couldn’t either.
Put a wooden shed on an Edsel? Sure – it was the kind of car that would understand.
Put a wooden shed on an Edsel – it’ll understand. ROTFLMAO!
The pictured Edsel kinda reminds me of Jack Elam.
Is he looking at me?
To bad the “cohort” didn’t peek inside the camper section.
I can smell the wet, moldy, old car smell from here~
Some of these had an in dash tach with green dots marking the shift points.
Oddly enough, was on Facebook marketplace ($300, it would seem) almost exactly two years ago: https://nastyz28.com/threads/edsel-camper-yard-art.322887/
Wow..Judging by the size and top-heavy look of this contraption, it’s a wonder it would be at all stable on the road. I can imagine the fear in taking a curve a bit too quickly.
If we grant it a suspension of disbelief and imagine it in mobile condition, I suspect that neither the motor vehicle agency nor any attentive police officer would look kindly on this thing now, at least in CT where it was listed. Perhaps the rules were looser back in the day.
Was the suspension of disbelief only offered on Edsels or was that suspension used on Fords and Mercurys too? 🙂
“Was the suspension of disbelief only offered on Edsels or was that suspension used on Fords and Mercurys too? ”
Mercury and Edsel only. Tip off is the larger wheel bolt pattern, 5×5″ rather than Ford’s 5×4.5″.
The featured “Camper Special” has the more robust suspension not seen on Fords.
For some reason featured Camper Special has been fitted with Buick wheels. Maybe to upgrade to larger 15″ tires? Or maybe just that a wrecked Buick was handy and had new tires? Who knows?
Good one. I would love to be able to honestly say that I thought of it as I was writing the post.
Thanks for using my cohort photos. This is one of the more interesting vehicles I have seen. I considered contacting the seller and feigning interest in the car just to get more photos.
The pictures I posted were taken from Facebook marketplace, and the ad didn’t have any shots inside the camper unit. One can only imagine the current mustiness, and perhaps dream about the glory days when this beast lumbered along the highways and byways.
The seller had it listed for $350 a few weeks ago, and it was marked as sold last week. There were pictures of some spare fenders in the ad that appeared to be in better shape than the ones on the car, so perhaps there was enough parts value in the package to justify the purchase. It’s hard to imagine that thing ever again moving under its own power, and the flatbed ride to its destination could not have been good for the wooden structure.
I admire the ingenuity of whoever made this, though it seems it would have been so much easier to build the wooden shed on the back of a pickup.
Thanks for the update, Fe2O3—I was just poking around online with “edsel camper” and “edsel motor home”. What a story!
You are welcome. It’s quite an odd vehicle. The photo that you found and the apparently newer photos that I found seem to have been taken in different locations, which gives the impression that the car has been moved, or perhaps that the owner performed a dramatic landscape modification around it. If the latter is true and this is the centerpiece of someone’s property, why sell it?
Is it possible that this thing can move under its own power? What if it’s like Christine? Perhaps the old owner died, and the dilapidated Edsel has found a new owner and is seeking to rebuild itself and seek revenge for slights real and imagined. The back must be full of mice, and I’ve killed a lot of mice during my life. This car was only a few towns away from where I live. Should I be concerned? Though I would normally be happy to see an Edsel on the road, this one has me worried.
Edsel Corsairs were pretty rare. Only about 9,000 of them were made. Can’t be many left. Interesting that the problematic Tele Touch and the earlier, equally troublesome Packard Ultrasonic push button transmission selectors were both electronic units. I never heard of any problems with with the Chrysler mechanical push buttons and they made millions of them from ‘56 – ‘64.
In retrospect, I don’t think the Edsel was any worse as a car than a contemporary Mercury, Olds or Dodge. Sure it was gaudy with questionable styling, but look at the GM crap from 1958. The Edsel may have survived, but it ran into some unique headwinds that doomed it. First, it could never lived up to the unbelievable hype that preceded its introduction. Its price structure was way too broad, with the Ranger less than many Fords and the Citation more than most Mercurys. Then a deep recession hit the country, souring the public on a pricey new model. Finally, Robert McNamara hated it, indicating he would cancel it even before it was introduced.