I like the '58 Edsel's styling, even its funny-looking grille. "Looks like a Buick sucking on a lemon" people said that about it back then. I suppose back in the day people were real picky about how their car looked in comparison. Nowadays, people want funny-looking cars! Like the new Cadillacs, and that Scion box-type-looking car, as if I care what the model name is. I don't like the toned-down exterior styling of the '59 Edsel as much as I like the '58, however I like the interior designs of both years. Still, I just think the '58 Edsel had a unique, classic, and stylish look, while still firmly maintaining the look of a '50s car. Which is a good thing.
The Edsel is a well-assembled car, despite the production glitches that happen in any new car line, especially the first-year '58 model. The '59 was more like a Ford than it's predecessor year, and the few '60s made were fraternal twins of the '60 Ford.
My '58 Ranger four-door sedan (owned since 1986) has been a consistently dependable car the entire time I have owned it - not that it hasn't needed help occasionally. The 361cid V-8 is strong and smooth, and as torquey and engine as you will find outside of a diesel. I happen to have one of the few 3-speed OD Edsels, and the Borg-Warner tranny has always worked well. The OD kickdown electrical contacts need to be cleaned occasionally to keep it functioning properly. The weakest link in the tranny is the cast iron shift collar - the car is now on it's third since I've owned it. I've learned to baby the shift lever, and the current collar is holding up.
The ride is good - I find the car very comfortable to ride in - and floats down the highway at speed. All Edsels are good highway cars and I know few Edsel owners that don't praise their cars highway comfort. The large '58s (Corsair and Citation) are amazingly comfortable on the highway.
I have owned and driven a '59 Ranger as well, and it is a distinctively different car from the '58, though still good. My '59 had the 223 six and automatic, a combo I would not recommend. The 223 with a stick shift is however supposed to be a zippy and economical car.
My Dad bought a new '58 Edsel 4 door Ranger with the 361 V-8. It had push button automatic transmission. He owned the car until 1963 and put over 100,000 miles on it. I loved that car! It was entirely dependable. My Dad loved it. It had power, luxury, road handling capability! My Dad drove over 1,000,000 miles for his company in 20 years and was accident free! He was an excellent driver and he was also fast. I can still remember how he could take corners in the Edsel. No large family car ever handled the road any better! I know this is all sentimental on my part, but I have always been excited for the fact that we owned a '58 Edsel and wish he would have never sold it.
I had a 58 Corsair 4 door hardtop. It had the 410 cu. in. engine with 345 HP and 475 lb. ft. torque. It had a unique color combination - white roof - gold body - black rear and streak - with the Edsel Spinner Hubcaps. The car was extremely fast, and hopped up cars came from all over to put it down. They might get it off the line, but at about 80 it blew by everything and went right on down the road. Very reliable, very fast, very hard on tires.
I owned a 1958 Edsel Corsair in 1975-77, and another from 1991 - 2007, so I have quite a bit of "big Edsel" experience. They were indeed fast once you got them moving. I too had friends in the 70's with hopped up Chevelles etc who always wanted to race me. I conceded that from a dead start over a short distance they'd take me, but on the freeway or on a 1/4 mile strip I'd kill 'em. I received a speeding ticket in St. Paul in 1976 doing 152 mph on the freeway! Please note, that the big '58 Edsel series had a three speed automatic transmission, but FIRST GEAR was not used unless you selected it manually! The engine had too much torque to use 1st in regular day to day driving. If you manually selected 1st while stopped at a light, and punched it on green, you would just sit there spinning the tires. To hard to get that much weight moving quickly with street tires. And if you start in 2nd (the way the car was designed) you didn't get the fast takeoff of the guys in lighter/quicker cars.
I always found my Edsels to be reliable and easily as reliable as any other car of that vintage. The 58's have a lot of doodads that can take some special attention to keep working right -- the electric Teletouch pushbutton shifting, the Dial-A-Temp heater control, and a few other bugaboos. They are huge cars and you have to forget your modern car driving style. You need room to swing it around to park, and a GIANT space if you're parallel parking.
I finally traded my last Edsel in on a new Mustang in 2007, partly because by then I had acquired a 1964 Corvair (that I still own) that proved to be much more fun to drive than the Edsel. The Edsel was a great family cruiser to many car events and shows for 15+ years for me and the Wife and our four kids! Plenty of room for 6 in that beast! But since the kids grew up and moved out...
Well, I'm looking at a Studebaker, now!
Just consider how lucky you are in the USA, that if you fancy one of these beautiful old cars, you can just go and buy one.. things like this are very few and far between here in the UK.
Oh, it will become few and far between soon with things going the way they're going today. With gas prices skyrocketing and with no end in sight to that problem, I believe these cars and their days are numbered.
Really, do you think the price of gas matters to someone who drives it 1000 miles or less a year?
Winter time is a really great time to buy more in the Northeast. Especially convertibles and manual trans cars.
I am not an Edsel buyer. I seek out very popular models like classic Mustangs. The last thing you think about is fuel cost. I have cars I only drive 500 miles a year, and the collector car insurance runs only $300 average for my cars a year. And some I flip in the spring when warm weather hits.
A lot of people apply the commuter daily driver logic to vintage and classic car ownership. Usually they have never even owned one and do not understand. It's just an old car to them.
It is easy to buy an unpopular design or a 4 door sedan and lose money. If you are careful and buy one way overdone financially by someone else, it can often be a great deal. The first owner has taken the financial hit. And then I usually buy when there's a foot or more of snow on the ground.
My favorite sellers are the ones that keep buying new parts every week as they get paid, and put the parts away on their project. I have a car now that had only 1700 miles put on it in 7 years before I bought it. The seller spent a ton of money slowly over a time (as they got paid no doubt) for boxes and boxes of new parts. Too busy to drive the car, but not too busy to buy parts off the Internet at night. They have a spouse complaining and I had cash in hand. And I buy boats as well this way when toys have to go. Right after Thanksgiving is when I shop. When you flip them in the right season and it's positive, all the concerns over the previous post about fuel costs disappear.
My concern over a model like this one is the limited broad appeal unless I was keeping one permanently. I like having classics that offset the annual loss on a new commuter vehicle in the garage. New cars go down, and the right classics go up.
When I was in high school, my brother bought a beautiful cream and charcoal 1958 Edsel Ranger 4-door hardtop. I loved the styling of the '58, because of the headlights being mounted in the leading top edge of the fenders, rather than in the grille as was the case in the '59 models. I'd love to have a nice 58, though I imagine the 1960 would be far more valuable due to the very low number of them built and sold.