Not-so-fond memories of Edsel

Published 3:32 am Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ever heard of the Edsel automobile? Time Magazine rated it as one of the 50th worst cars of all times, describing it as “kind of homely, fuel thirsty and too expensive.”

My husband and I bought a 1958 Edsel for a second car when we returned to the states from a tour overseas. Before we left Bamberg, Germany, we sold the beat-up old Plymouth station wagon we had used to get around on post for almost three years. Months before our departure date, we started making payments on a new 1963 Rambler we picked up with joy in Birmingham upon our arrival.

My husband’s new duty assignment was with the Department of Military Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We had our mobile home towed to the nearest trailer park we could find, located in Powell community. It was a few miles outside of Knoxville. We realized right away our need for another car so I could transport our son to school and myself grocery shopping.

I can’t remember if we bought our Edsel at a used car dealership or if we purchased it from an individual. It looked good. The interior was clean. Despite all the criticism I read about the Edsel later, I always thought it was a pretty car. The Time Magazine article I read said, “Ford’s marketing mavens had led the public to expect some plutonium-powered, pancake-making wondercar; what they got was a Mercury.”

Maybe the reason we decided upon an Edsel was Mercury automobiles appealed to my husband. He bought a used one right before our marriage. Unfortunately the day before that memorable occasion, the suave looking vehicle slung a rod. We wound up borrowing my parents’ Chevrolet coupe for our honeymoon trip.

The Edsel served me well for a short time. I took our son to school every morning and picked him up every afternoon. I did my weekly grocery shopping and made an occasional trip into Knoxville. Then one day as I attempted to make a left turn from the busy highway onto the road into the trailer park, the engine died. Shaking and sweating, I finally got it started and managed to get home.

A few months later after we thought the problem was resolved, it happened again. I had picked up our son at school and was crossing the railroad tracks in Powell when the engine died. No trains were in sight, but it really frightened me. Both our children were in the car that time.

After that incident, we knew we had to do something. One day soon afterward, I rolled a grocery cart to our Edsel sitting in the supermarket parking lot and found a note tucked under the windshield wiper. It read, “I would like to purchase this car. Call me at …” God most surely was looking out for us.

As soon as my husband got home from work that night, we called. The next day we sold the Edsel.