Ten Edsel Things to do in the Winter

By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

  • Get to know your Data Plate. It's truly fascinating what you can find out about your car, and all Edsels, by knowing the production codes. (Do you know the name of your paint color? How many different interiors were offered in your model Edsel?) What can really be neat is to find out that your car has a unique makeup that was not "officially" available from the factory. With Edsels, these cars are unusually common.

  • Clean your interior and upholestry - especially under the seats and between the cracks. This will also give you the chance to check for any tearing that might need repairs. These interior inspection tours also cause the mice to think twice about camping out in your seat cushions.

  • Wash and Wax your car. Admittedly, the washing can be a chilly affair. But, once your car is inside and dry, there is no better place to wax it. It is cool and out of the sunlight, as recommended by most all car wax manufacturers. Then, when that first spring day arrives, you simply have to back your car out and hit the road.

  • Have something chromed. If you are one of the few Edsel owners with perfect chrome, Congratulations! Otherwise, winter is the best time to pull chrome (or any part) off to have it worked on, since no one will be seeing your car anyway. And, it usually takes the length of the winter season to get anything back from the shop.

  • Rotate your tires. Yes, this may sound kind of trivial, but Edsels tend to log their miles so sporadically that it is better to do things on a time schedule than a mileage schedule. Rotating your tires once a year will make them last longer, as well as making you a much better maintenance person than me. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

  • Change your oil and all other critical fluids. This should actually be done at the beginning of the winter, because it is much better to leave clean oil in a crankcase than sludgy oil. Also check your power steering and brake fluid (a brake system fluid flush, as well as a full system inspection, is a VERY GOOD idea. The absolutely most important system on your Edsel is your brakes.) Feel free to flush and fill your coolant as well - I used a chemical flush on my car, and finally got rid of an annoying "toilet flushing' sound in my heater core. Without stock gauges to tell you when you're overheating, it's critical that you be sure all your systems are operating fully before you drive.

  • Make sure everything works. You may know that the engine, transmission and driver's door are operating smoothly, but have you tried anything else lately? Check all your interior and exterior lamps, all your window cranks, all your door locks and latches, your glove box door, your wipers, your Dial-A-Temp -- Everything! Replace, fix, or lublicate whatever needs it. Crawl under the dash and makes sure all the fuses are present and unblown. See what kind of fuses you need, so you can stock your toolbox. You and your car will be happier.

  • Start your car regularly and run it. I try to start mine once a month, but it is harder for those stored off my property. (Remember - the car must be allowed to get up to operating temperature before you shut it down, or else you will be doing more harm than good.) At the minimum, let it warm up in your well-ventilated garage (and run your automatic tranny through the gears to let those pumps work). At best, take your pride and joy for a spin. It won't melt in the rain, and we don't use salt on the roads in the Northwest, so you shouldn't worry. Since you're going to wash and wax it anyway (see above) it's no problem!

  • Re-pack your travel kit. This isn't your took box, but rather some specific things that your Edsel needs when it goes on any trip. A fire extinguisher is essential, but you will want to consider extra brake, power steering and hydraulic top fluid; motor oil and an extra filter; wipers and belts; extra electircal fuses and maybe a lamp or two; wheel bearing grease; coveralls and/or a ground blanket to lay on when working on your car; flashlight; polishes and waxes for that cruise-in you might happen to pass; and lots of towels and rags.

  • Re-read The Edsel Affair or any other information on Ford's Flop you may have. Whenever you get in your Edsel, you are the designated representative of ALL Edsel Owners everywhere, and people are going to have questions for you about your car, other cars, and the club. Knowing Edsel-ese allows you to answer even the toughest questions, and might even persuade someone to consider owning an Edsel just like yours. And that's what being a proud Edsel Owner and Club member is all about.


    Accessorizing your Edsel

    By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

    If you set out to cruise in '50s style, an Edsel is the best place to start. But, if you want the complete 1950's look and feel, you may want to consider buying some "odds and ends" that will complete the time warp effect. It's often the little details that will change people's reaction to your Edsel from "Neat!" to "WOW!"

    Let's start small and basic, and work our way up. Do you have an original owner's manual in the glove box? How about other Edsel dealer paperwork? A lot of this stuff can be found at swap meets, but you also need to check in and around wrecking yard cars - especially under the front seat. Having any Edsel literature in your car adds to the feeling of having just driven off the showroom floor. You can also carry a vintage magazine that contains "the ad which inspired you to go see your Edsel dealer." A really neat touch that everyone can see is an original dealer license plate frame declaring that your Ranger was purchased at Don Rasmussen Edsel or Tonkin Edsel! (It's true! They sold them!) These and other dealer giveaways add a lot of flavor to the styling of your car. I also like to carry vintage gas station give-aways like matchbooks, ice scrapers and road maps, which can be picked up for pennies if you shop a little.

    Do you want to save your interior? So did your original Edsel purchaser. That's why many items were available to protect your car and allow it to be fully used. Plastic seat covers were very common on new cars, and may still be available through J.C. Whitney. If you like to carry food or cold drinks, they used to do it with wicker baskets and all-metal coolers; both of these items can still be found at antique stores, or reproduced. Be sure original floormats are covering your carpets, and these also are out there in original or reproduction form.

    If you like to travel in your Edsel wagon, then a roof rack is a must. Most of these were aftermarket items, so style and size varies. You will not likely find a model exactly the same as your year Edsel, but that's not too important. If it is a good fit and the style is correct for the period, it will work. There are also many "clamp-on" racks from the '50s that could be used as well, though roof and gutter scratches are common with these.

    So, now your car looks great, but is it any more comfortable to drive? Here is where some simple, inexpensive add-ons can make a big difference. Hopefully, you haven's forgotten about curb feelers, which look kind of odd sticking out from your rocker panels but do wonders for saving your whitewalls. When stopped at a light, the low browline of the '58 and '59 roofs can make seeing the green light so hard that you see red! No problem - with a fan-shaped light diffuser mounted to the dash just in front of the instrument panel. And, you say you have no power steering? That's exactly why they created the Brody knob, which is a knob attached to one point on your steering wheel, letting you crank your wheel with one hand. This makes parking much easier! (Are these knobs now illegal? I've heard rumors, but I'm not sure.)

    For those serious about accessorizing, you may wish to tow something appropriate behind your car. Here is where a camp trailer works very nicely. If you want to go "all the way", then consider an Airstream or similarly-styled RV. Anything over 13 feet or so will likely require a class 3 hitch, which is expensive and may require some structural modification to your rear frame. But, the look and functionality of your car cannot be beat! With these trailers, you will also want to be confident of towing capacity - be sure to consider your engine size and transmission carefully. A much easier way to go is to get a vintage "teardrop"-type camping trailer. These are so light that they are rated as utility trailers, and are easy to maneuver and store. You can purchase reproductions of these today, or find an original that needs a little work. There were even some "tent" trailers being made in the '50s, so look around and see what you can find - the more unique, the better! Any trailer you buy can be used for it's intended purpose, or may simply serve as a picnic supply wagon or spare parts bin for long trips.

    At the last Car Show in October, Bob Gutmann's assorted "accessories", especially his teardrop trailer, garnered as much interest and attention as his freshly restored wagon. If you are going to stand out from the crowd and own an Edsel, why not really stand out and add all the goodies that make the package complete? It really makes being an Edsel owner and driver a whole lot more fun.


    Packing on those Extra Holiday Pounds

    By Jay Lehr - Oregon Chapter of the Edsel Owners Club

    It's incredible how those extra little pounds can add up, isn't it? Your '58 Edsel is no exception. If you want to figure out how much your car weighs, take the base weight of your car from the table directly below. Then, add those "extra pounds" from the Options table to get a total weight for your vehicle. I'll leave it to you to average in the weight of you and your passengers.

    1958 Ranger
    2-door sedan 3729 lbs.
    4-door sedan 3805 lbs.
    2-door hardtop 3724 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 3796 lbs.

    1958 Pacer
    4-door sedan 3826 lbs.
    2-door hardtop 3724 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 3857 lbs.
    Convertible 3909 lbs.

    1958 Corsair
    2-door hardtop 4134 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 4235 lbs.

    1958 Citation
    2-door hardtop 4136 lbs.
    4-door hardtop 4230 lbs.
    Convertible 4311 lbs.

    1958 Wagons
    Roundup 2-door 3761 lbs.
    Villager 6-pass. 3827 lbs.
    Villager 9-pass. 3900 lbs.
    Bermuda 6-pass. 3853 lbs.
    Bermuda 9-pass. 3919 lbs.

    Now, add the following weights for the options that your car has. Base Pacers, Rangers and wagons have 3-speed manual transmissions; Corsairs and Citations came only with pushbutton automatics, so don't add another 83 pounds to those cars!

    Automatic transmission (lever) +67 lbs.
    Automatic trans (pushbutton) +83 lbs.
    Overdrive transmission +30 lbs.
    Power steering +34 lbs.
    Power brakes +12 lbs.
    Air conditioning +115 lbs.
    Dual exhaust +32 lbs.
    Multi-luber +5 lbs.
    Power seat (4-way) +30 lbs.
    Power windows +15 lbs.
    Radio +11 lbs.
    Heater +26 lbs.
    Padded dash panel +9 lbs.
    Seat belts +4 lbs.
    Wheel covers +8 lbs.

    Amazing, ain't it!


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