Any crossword puzzler knows there’s a five-letter word for a Ford that flopped: Edsel.

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At the heart of any large flop–like when Ford finished the Edsel 55 year ago, ~ above Nov. 19, 1959–lies high expectations. The Edsel was named after Henry Ford’s son, no small honor, and also it had its own department of the company specialized to its creation. Together report in 1957 when the auto debuted, the company had invested 10 years and $250 million ~ above planning one of its first brand-new cars in decades. The Edsel come in 18 models but, in bespeak to with its sales goals, it would have to do wildly far better than any type of other car in 1957 was expected to do. The September day that the car first went ~ above the market, thousands of eager buyers showed up in ~ dealers, but before the year was over monthly sales had actually fallen by around a third.

When Ford announced that they to be pulling the plug ~ above the program, here’s exactly how explained what had gone wrong:

As it turned out, the Edsel to be a classic situation of the wrong car for the wrong sector at the wrong That was additionally a prime example of the constraints of industry research, v its “depth interviews” and also “motivational” mumbo-jumbo. ~ above the research, Ford had actually an airtight instance for a brand-new medium-priced auto to contend with Chrysler’s Dodge and also DeSoto, general Motors’ Pontiac, Oldsmobile and also Buick. Studies confirmed that by 1965 fifty percent of every U.S. Family members would be in the $5,000-and-up bracket, would certainly be buying much more cars in the medium-priced field, which currently had 60% that the market. Edsel can sell as much as 400,000 cars a year.

After the decision to be made in 1955, Ford ran much more studies come make certain the new car had precisely the best “personality.” Research verified that Mercury buyers were normally young and hot-rod-inclined, if Pontiac, Dodge and Buick appealed to middle-aged people. Edsel was to to win a happy medium. As one researcher said, it would certainly be “the smart vehicle for the younger executive, management or professional family on its method up.” To acquire this image across, Ford even went to the trouble of putting out a 60-page memo ~ above the procedural measures in the selection of an declaring agency, turned under 19 applicants prior to choosing Manhattan’s Foote, Cone & Belding. Total cost the research, design, tooling, development of manufacturing facilities: $250 million.

A Taste the Lemon. The defect in all the study was the by 1957, when Edsel appeared, the bloom to be gone native the medium-priced field, and also a brand-new boom was beginning in the compact field, one area the Edsel research had overlooked completely.

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Even so, the Edsel wasn’t a complete loss for Ford: the company was able come use manufacturing facilities construct for Edsel for your next new line of, friend guessed it, compact cards.