Video: The 1958 Edsel Tunnel Commercial

1958 Edsel brick wallAs you know, here at Mac’s Motor City Garage we’re fascinated with the Edsel, the auto industry’s most fabulous flop. This original Edsel commercial provides some wonderful insights into the disaster—watch.   



When it was introduced on September 4, 1957, the Edsel was not just a bold experiment in engineering and design, but in marketing as well. And at that moment, the art of television advertising was changing, too. Car commercials were moving out of the studio (with celebrity walkarounds and other techniques) and onto the highway, showing the cars in motion to create a more dynamic feel. Interestingly, this spot for the 1958 Edsel uses both indoor and outdoor scenes in nearly equal measure. Perhaps the producers were hedging their bets.

This spot also focuses at length on the Edsel’s unusual features, including the unique instrument panel with drum-type speedometer and the Teletouch Drive control with its electric shift buttons in the steering wheel hub. These were among the distinctive touches that were designed to present the Edsel as, in the words of the ad writers, “a completely new kind of car, with a wonderful new way to drive.”

But the most dramatic moment is right at the top of the spot. An Edsel emerges from a dark tunnel and drives straight into the camera until the unique (hideous, some will say) horseshoe grille dominates the frame. “This,” the announcer proclaims, “is the Edsel.” In 1958, some folks loved the Edsel and others hated it, it’s fair to say. But this much was certain: Everyone knew what it looked like. Video below.


2 thoughts on “Video: The 1958 Edsel Tunnel Commercial

  1. I know I’m up agin some pretty hefty opposition, but I liked the Edsel, and at 116,000 units, it was hardly a flop. I’ve heard it said, “The aim was right, but the target moved”. I don’t see how the Edsel’s styling was any stranger than the Chrysler products that followed it. Launching a new car is always a crap shoot, and this one missed. Aside from quality control issues, that plagued all car makers, Ford made good products back then.
    Quick story, in the early ’80’s, I drove a tractor trailer dump truck, and took a load of fertilizer to a farm in central ILL., middle of nowhere, pulled in the yard, noticed a few older cars laying around, but was more focused on where to go. A young girl came out, and said, her dad wasn’t there, but to dump it ’round back. When I went ’round back, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Must have been 50 Edsel’s, in every shape and model you could think of, mostly pretty tired stuff, but before I left, I said to the girl, wow, your dad must like Edsel’s, she said, yeah, he’s out buying 2 more right now. I wonder what ever happened to those.

  2. If they had of went with a standard horizontal grill instead of the horse collar, the Edsel wouldn’t have been a bad looking car. I like the 1960’s the best. It’s a shame that by the time they had it figured out, it had already gotten a bad reputation for being unreliable and they killed it off.

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