AUTOS: The Newest Car

  • Share
  • Read Later

After ten years of planning and $250 million for tooling, Ford Motor Co. put its long-awaited Edsel on display this week. The first new "Big Three" car since Ford brought out the Mercury in 1938 is a recognizable Ford product without radical jetlike fins or bomb-shaped bumpers. Like Ford and Mercury, it presents a squarish appearance with a flat rear deck, horizontal taillights that flare up and out, an oval, uncluttered grille reminiscent of the elegant Cord of the '30s. Under its hood is a burly engine turning up 303 h.p. in the less expensive models, 345 h.p. in the top-priced line. Inside is the ultimate in pushbutton driving—a drive selector with the controls placed in the center of the steering wheel.

Produced in 18 models, the new Edsel will spread-eagle the medium-priced field. Though final prices are still to be fixed, the range is expected to run from the Ford Fairlane 500 ($2,281 f.o.b. Detroit) up to the Buick Roadmaster ($3,944). Ford's immediate target for 1,200 Edsel dealers: sales of 200,000 in the first year.

Edsel will have to burn up the road to reach its goal. Though most of the industry has scaled 1957's sales forecast down to about 5.8 million cars, production last week was still rolling along at a rate of better than 6,000,000 cars annually, building up an inventory of unsold cars that is beginning to weigh heavily on dealers. As of Aug. 1, U.S. auto dealers had 750,808 unsold 1957 models, 7% less than 1955's record production year, but 22% more than in August last year.