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View Full Version : THE 'EDSEL': The Greatest Car EVER.......



NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 01:30 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/typing.gifHello again!!....after all the smoke has cleared from our foray into the Soviet view of the Eastern Front, I thought we might look at SUCCESS from another point of view....


http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/353.gifOn advice from our mods, ive been asked to put this sign up.....silly me! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/353.gif
.....A <span class="ev_code_BLUE">FORD CORPORATE </span> point of view.....



http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/compsmash.gif<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">A Short History of the </span> <span class="ev_code_BLUE">FORD "EDSEL"</span>: A Study of Corporate Success.......


Like their military counterparts, businessmen, professors of business administration, and their students do not appear to enjoy discussing <span class="ev_code_RED">failure.</span>


Like their counterparts, business journalists <span class="ev_code_YELLOW">relish</span> the opportunity to tell the tale of how greed and ineptitude lead businesses to produce products that do not sell....

To undertake projects that do not work....

To pile up debts that cannot be repaid......

A few authors, hoewver, have produced a literature on business failure that repays some attention.

MOST business failures take the form of the collapse of small, young companies- the equivalent of the explainable military failures we have discussed in other threads on this site.
There are other cases, however, which closely approximate military misfortunes: a spectacular failure of a large and competant organization in a major undertaking- the business equvilant of a military campaign

One particularly good example of this is the story of the EDSEL, the car introduced by Ford with much fanfare in 1957, which failed miserably and was withdrawn from the market within two years. As usually told, the story of the Edsel is that of an organization that <span class="ev_code_YELLOW">decieved itself</span> through the use of pseudoscientific public opinion surveys, making a mockery of the techniques of market research and itself in the process.

The case of the EDSEL, however, becomes far more puzzling (and hilarious http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif), when placed in the wider context of the FORD Corporation's performance since World War II.

After it's initial glorious period under it's founder, Henry Ford, whose MODEL T became synonymous with the popularly owned, personal auto-mobile, Ford underwent a long period of decline, during which it was outstripped by it's major American competitors. It was only after WWII that it's recovery began; a recovery underway at the time of the Edsel fiasco. Indeed, after the <span class="ev_code_PURPLE">bruising</span> experience of the Edsel ( which some estimates say cost Ford as much as <span class="ev_code_GREEN">$350,000,000 dollars!</span>....(although that estimate is probablt a little too high)....Ford THEN produced one of it's most successful cars EVER...<span class="ev_code_RED">THE THUNDERBIRD!</span>

The more careful studies of the Edsel failure reveal that it's sources lay in the confluence of several different types of factors. One set of problems involved particulary tactical choices made by the different managers: the confused pricing policy, a publicity campaign that created excessive expectation, and a design that was not terribly alluring- <span class="ev_code_YELLOW">a deeper seated problem in Ford cars</span> that plagued the company for some years.
Many of the first Edsels had defects (most of them minor http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif) that contrasted sharply with the image created by the public relations men. Tactics were not the problem here; organization of production was. Another organizational problem was that the comapny's decision to create a completely new division to handle the Edsel, a division immediately thrust into competition with the other Ford divisions for resources and outlets, as well as with the divisions of other car manufacturers.

Finally, perhaps most seriously of all, the strategic environment in which Ford operated had changed. One environmental change was the recession of 1958, which temporarily depressed the demand or cars. More important, however, was a change in the very understanding of what cars were. Ford, like most of the American public, had hitherto thought of cars in terms of PRICE. (low, medium, high), and the Edsel was Ford's opportunity to break into the 'medium' price bracket. Until then, managers at Ford complained that they were simply grooming customers for <span class="ev_code_RED">GENERAL MOTORS</span>, the assumption being that customers went from low-priced Fords to the more expensive models offered by GM. In fact, the car industry was in the middle of a shift to catagories defined more by "LIFESTYLE" than by price- and the Thunderbird would capture the "life-style" aspirations of many Americans quite nicely.

This thumbnail sketch of "business frustration" http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif has a number of instructive points.....

First, it is striking that no-one atributes the Edsel Fiasco exclusively or even primarily to the decisions of the President of the Ford Motor Company, <span class="ev_code_BLUE">Henry Ford II</span>. As important as Ford was in the history of the company, the responsibility for failure was shared by a number of the members of the management team at Ford. There is, in other words, no 'man in the dock'. Instead, students of the Edsel failure focus on particular components of the Ford organization, and in particular the <span class="ev_code_YELLOW">Special Products Division</span>(***Yep, the Edsel was a SPECIAL product, alright! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif***), which later took over the Edsel operation. Second, it becomes clear from the Edsel story that 3 kinds of forces produced failure; what one might call "command decisions" by particular managers (on, for example, the peculiar 'grille' of the car), organizational deficiancies (lack of quality control referred to above), and changes in the environment. The first could easily have changed, the second MIGHT have been corredted, but with great diffculty....the last wast virtually unalterable.

This TRIPARTITE division of cause is also useful in understanding military failure, in which all three kinds of forces are often lumped together. Finally, the story of the Edsel reminds us of the importance of the political psychology of failure- the role of the expectations built up by those undertaking the venture(*** http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gifand the GALAHS that had to buy and drive the bloody thing!***)

Numerous models of new cars fail to make it in the marketplace; not all reverberate as widely as the Edsel.(OH...it REVERBERATES ALRIGHT!!!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif Had Ford not convinced itself and the attentative public (particulary automotive journalists!), that the Edsel would be an 'extraordinary' success!
(***OH but it WAS....IT WAS an EXTRAORDINARY SUCCESS*** http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif)

Students of Corporate failure point out that when it is triggered by normal business hazards, such as a recession, the critical question becomes how a corporation found itself in an inherantly fragile position. Rather than suggesting that a business organization can forsee environmental change or predict the precise actions of competitors- the equivalent of the surprise attack theory- they concentrate on the ability of corporations to adapt to change and uncertainty. And when they do this they frequently turn to study of the corporate culture; the 'norms and 'way of life' of an organization.

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">This, in turn, leads to an understanding that failure is frequently directly and paradoxically connected with success.</span>

Sometimes, a species biological adaptation to one set of circumstances can leave it acutely vulnerable in others.....

So it was with the <span class="ev_code_BROWN">FORD EDSEL</span>........hope you enjoyed this quick look at what will forever remain



http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/touche.gif "SHINING EXAMPLE OF AMERICAN CORPORATE MANAGEMENT INGENUITY!" .....Don't you just WISH you had one in YOUR garage NOW?.......And by God, thats where it would stay ,too!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif


............................

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 01:40 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gifOnly a short credit....

COHEN, Eliot A. and GOOCH, John, "Military Misfortunes", pages 19-21......enjoy, ye 'fans' of the greatest car EVER......

Celeon999
11-14-2007, 03:51 AM
Well, ...For its time it was at least a good looking car.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Edsel_Convertible.jpg

Oldsmobile1958
11-14-2007, 05:02 AM
Great car.. great era http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Although I like my car better http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

http://members.rott.chello.nl/ddenboer/images/den13.jpg

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/touche.gif

Liddabit
11-14-2007, 05:23 AM
None can challenge my mighty Toyota Corolla :-P!

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 07:58 AM
Thanks ever so much for the replys and great pics!....the Edsel is one of my favorite cars to keep in the garage....permanently! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

fushiyasha
11-14-2007, 09:25 AM
my neighbor has one... somewhere, and i have to say.... fear my supra!!!!!! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 09:31 AM
I've never heard of anybody actually being unfortunate enough to own one of these bits of junk.....wow....what a lucky guy! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/shady.gif

mush1960
11-14-2007, 09:40 AM
All joking aside, what actually was wrong with the Edsel? I've heard of it, and seen pictures, and heard it never made it, but what was actually wrong with it?

klcarroll
11-14-2007, 10:04 AM
All joking aside, what actually was wrong with the Edsel?


Mainly just bad timing.

....It was a big, somewhat overpriced car that required premium fuel; .....and Ford introduced it right when the country was sliding into a period of recession. (That, and some of the "cosmetics" didn't appeal to everyone.)

klcarroll

Celeon999
11-14-2007, 10:25 AM
Originally posted by Oldsmobile1958:
Great car.. great era http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Although I like my car better http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

http://members.rott.chello.nl/ddenboer/images/den13.jpg

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/touche.gif


http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif


Look ! Americans really built beautiful automobiles at some point.

What happened ? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 10:34 AM
Celeon....they forgot about asthetic quality in an automobile and became industrial slaves to something called 'consumer opinion"......I mean, it was a classic case of something that used to be really special....just lost it's way, somehow...and died......hard to say if that era of automobile will ever return...we await the next generation of 'new' personal transport, that can be equipped with beaut stuff like 'wings' again....STYLE, I think, is what is missing from American automobiles....a style that they once showed US how to achieve...and they just 'don't' ananumore....modern industrial enigma!

Realjambo
11-14-2007, 04:19 PM
<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">Nimitz can you please title 'Off Topic' Threads that you start with the prefix 'OT'

I'm struggling to understand what on earth an Edsel has to do with US Submarines or Silent Hunter 4 in the great scheme of things frankly </span>

klcarroll
11-14-2007, 05:03 PM
I have to confess that I was wondering much the same thing!


klcarroll

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 09:31 PM
This a homorous piece....what on earth is wrong with that?.....so...its not about silent hunter four...well neither are descriptions of the latest football game....or some of the other messages we get on site....im just a little 'mugged' from five days of typingf and debate on various military martime subjects.....Pearl Harbor....JN25......Perisher....i got a little 'over loade with WW2...and wanted a change of pace


Now whats wrong with that?


You Mods seem to think that my personal tolerence for silly sqaubbles of this kind is endless....if you think this banter is bad for the site...tell me at the time, before we commence with all the 'funny' comment, which is, after all, just what a thread like this is FOR....

I thought THAT would be OBVIOUS



Strggling to understand?

It doesnt sound like you've been 'struggling' that hard....seems very simple to 'understand'....
NOW....do you want me to continue on this site?

Continue/stay

Exit site/ delete

simple choices jambo


the rest is just poointless arguments over very little


give me a good ol' bunfight with jasty and dakoochy! worthy ooponents from yesterday,s ZUKHOV fuss and feathgers....that one was FUN!

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 09:34 PM
by the way....look at how quick the hits built up for both this line and DOC Holliday...popular reads both of them......and a nice change of pace....is that so hard to wrap your noodle around?

NIMITZ1967
11-14-2007, 09:36 PM
AHHHH.....so THATS what the OT prefix means.....sorry jambo, i must admit to IGNORANCE on that one....I DO APOLOGIZE! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

PhantomKira
11-15-2007, 01:23 AM
I passed one [an Edsel] on my way to Madison, Wisconsin about a month ago. No mistaking that grill!