Edsel entered the automotive scene with the introduction of the 1958 models featuring the horse-collar grilles. A total of 63,110 Edsels were built for the 1958 model year. But when the total for 1959 dropped to 44,891, Ford decided to pull the plug on Edsel.
Before the end came, however, a handful of 1960 models were built with a split-horizontal grille, replacing the horse-collar grille. Only 2,846 Edsels were manufactured during the 44-day production run of 1960 Edsels.
The first 1960 Edsel - serial No. 1 - was a Ranger four-door hardtop sedan with a Polar White top over an Alaskan Gold metallic body. A vice president of parts at Ford Motor Co. reportedly was the original owner. Records indicate that after driving the Edsel about 120,000 miles in the next five years, he simply parked the road-weary car. He supposedly kept the car because it was serial No. 1, and it sat in his Detroit backyard for three decades.
Jim and Carolyn Popp ended up buying the rusted relic. The car was so far gone, Popp said after an inspection, that if it weren't "No. 1" it would have been sent to the crusher at the junkyard. Instead, it sat in a barn for a year while locating parts and upholstery fabric. When all was in order, the work began.
"Nothing on the car was usable," Popp says. "We had to rebuild everything. A five-year, frame-off restoration was needed to bring the car to its present condition," Popp says.
Three engines were offered to purchasers of 1960 Edsels: a small 145-horsepower, 222-cubic-inch V-8; a large 300-horsepower, 352-cubic-inch V-8; or the one in Popp's Edsel, a medium-size 185-horsepower, 292-cubic-inch V-8 with a two-barrel carburetor.
The cavernous trunk is best described by Popp as a "six-by-six." The handsome interior is upholstered in impossible-to-find Moroccan gold vinyl and brown pebble cloth. Popp had to have the material specially produced.
"Serial No. 1 is equipped with a two-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning," he remarks. "Only 50 Edsels in 1960 were air conditioned." The base price of the 3,718-pound Edsel in 1960 was $2,770.
The four vertical lights at the rear - red outboard and white inboard - ride above the chrome-plated E-D-S-E-L lettering below the lip of the trunk lid.
The biggest problem in reassembling the restored car came when installing the windshield. It wouldn't fit. It turned out that one of the "A" pillars was short and needed to be adjusted. Some metallurgic surgery solved the dilemma and the car was made whole.
Popp is satisfied that his 1960 Serial No. 1 Edsel is restored to perfection.
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