Students of the American automobile won’t want to miss this little four-minute film from 1957. Here, Henry Ford II states the case for the Edsel.
This 1957 film short, produced by the Ford Motor Co. for the Edsel dealer organization, is valuable on at least two counts. First, it speaks directly to that time-honored question regarding the Edsel: What were they thinking?
Clearly and plainly, Henry Ford II lays out here the company’s projections for the American automobile market in the coming decades and just where the Edsel slotted into this carefully crafted vision. At around the 1:40 mark, Ford delivers what we can consider a thesis statement:
“The purpose of the Edsel can be stated very simply. It is to give Ford Motor Company a larger share of the market, and particularly of the medium-price market.” While the Edsel involved years of elaborate product planning, and books have since been written about the debacle, in many ways that was the long and the short of it. (See MCG’s in-depth, illustrated feature on the Edsel product line here.)
But perhaps more valuable in this film is the insight on Ford the man. By this time, HF II had more than a decade under his belt as the chief executive officer of the company his grandfather founded. He was now 40 years old, and his famed confidence and self-conviction are already in full display.
Since Ford died in 1987, many have never had the opportunity to see and hear him in the flesh, witness his unique persona and manner. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Henry Ford II.