World's Ugliest Car; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENTS
Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge
The Ford Edsel has been described as 'the least successful car of all time'. Why is this?
THE Ford Edsel was conceived in 1954 and production began in September 1957 and ran to November 1959. Only 118,287 were produced, including 18 models offering various chassis lengths, engine sizes, interiors and roof styles. The cheapest cost $2,300 and the most expensive $3,489.
It was called Edsel after Henry Ford's son Edsel Bryant Ford. Upon hearing this, Ford's public relations director was quoted as saying: 'We just lost 200,000 sales.'
The Edsel had innovations such as a 'rolling dome' speedometer and push-button 'teletouch' transmission system on the steering wheel. Seatbelts and child-proof rear door locks, then very rare, were also available.
Car writers were initially impressed.
Popular Science magazine wrote of 'gadgets beyond a gadgeteer's dreams of glory' and the Los Angeles Times reported that 'road handling was excellent under the most difficult conditions'.
But the public hated it: Ford had hit the US market with a large model while General Motors, Chrysler and American Motors had turned to compacts and, in a time of austerity, the car was thirsty.
The Edsel was thought ugly, with its famous vertical grille. Some critics likened it to a cart-horse collar, others to a toilet seat. One magazine famously compared it to female private parts. Once this had been said, who wanted an Edsel? The Edsel became an embarrassment.
Only 63,000 were sold in the first year of production. Ford even offered tokens to Edsel owners so that they could select another Ford model. The car also became a standing joke with comedians, and even Vice President Richard Nixon joined in the mockery. Pelted with eggs while riding in an Edsel in Peru, he quipped: 'They were throwing eggs at the car, not me.' The company lost $350million -- or $2.75billion today -- on the venture.
In 1963, Perry Piper co-founded the Edsel Owners' Club. By 1999 it had more than 2,000 members. In the early years, people would try to sell him their Edsels for $35.
Fewer than 10,000 Edsels survive, and today a 1958 Citation convertible or 1960 Ranger convertible might fetch up to $100,000.
John Dowell, London.
Alexander Woolcott's famous theatre review of Wham! simply read: 'Ouch!' Are there any other succinct reviews of note?
THIS brings to mind a 1951 New York stage production based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories. John Van Druten's play, entitled I Am A Camera -- prompted the review 'Me no Leica' from Broadway critic Walter Kerr.
Cy Young, London W10.
INFLUENTIAL New York theatre critic Clive Barnes famously reduced his consideration of a play called The Cupboard to a single word: 'Bare.' Jon Holland, Liverpool. WHEN I lived in Margate in the Sixties, a review in a local paper about a musical called That's Entertainment! read: 'That's Entertainment? No!' I also recall a dreadful performance of The Diary Of Anne Frank by an amateur dramatic company in Thanet. It was so bad that when the Germans arrived at Anne's hiding place, someone in the audience shouted out: 'She's in the attic!' John Harcourt, Gravesend, Kent.
King Charles II had 14 illegitimate children; do any of their descendants have titles?
FURTHER to the earlier answer, two infamously licentious descendants of Charles II were Whig politician Charles James Fox and Dr Samuel Johnson's friend Topham Beauclerk. Both proved that acorns never fell far from the royal oak.
Charles James Fox (1749-1806) inherited his royal forebear's love of debauchery. His mother, Caroline, was the great-granddaughter of the Duke of Richmond, Charles's son by his mistress, Louise de Keroualle. Fox was a man of sensibility who wept openly in Parliament when friends felt compelled to speak against him, who fought a duel with a political opponent, shared mistresses with the Prince of Wales, wrote an essay about flatulence to win a wager and secretly married courtesan Elizabeth Armistead, whom he loved.
He was also a toper and compulsive gambler. He once played the game hazard from Tuesday to Wednesday night, losing [pounds sterling]11,000. He paused on Thursday for a Commons debate, then returned to his club, drank until Friday morning, walked to Almack's Assembly Rooms to gamble until 4pm, winning [pounds sterling]6,000, then rode to the Newmarket races and blew [pounds sterling]10,000.
Topham Beauclerk (1739-1780), the great-grandson of Charles II and Nell Gwynne, was infamous for his infidelities, the filthiness of his person and for the numbers of vermin in his wig. He frequently left behind infestations of lice that plagued the households he visited.
He formed a scandalous attachment to Lady Bolingbroke, the daughter of the Duke of Marlborough (born Lady Diana Spencer) and the affair resulted in two children and Viscount Bolingbroke divorcing his wife. Lady Diana was obliged to change the bed linen daily.
Adrian Teal, writer and illustrator of The Gin Lane Gazette, Northampton.
We are all enjoying the Lions on tour in Australia, but what is the history of that other great rugby selection, the Barbarians?
BARBARIAN FC (not to be confused with the Barbarian Rugby Club which is the French offshoot) are known the world over as a team of all talents who jealously guard the game's traditions of sportsmanship.
Their motto encapsulates this: 'Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes but for no bad sportsman in any class.' The Barbarians, or Baa-Baas as they have come to be known, were formed in the south of England in the late 19th century by Cambridge University undergraduate William Percy Carpmael.
Carpmael's motive for setting up the Barbarians was his desire to play more rugby after the traditional season ended, which, in the 19th century, was in late March.
He had enjoyed the experience of touring Yorkshire with Cambridge University in 1884 and undertook to repeat the experience with a selection of the best southern players thereafter.
And so, on April 9, 1890, in Leuchters Restaurant and later at the Alexandra Hotel in Bradford, the concept of the Barbarians was agreed upon.
The team toured later that year and beat Hartlepool Rovers 9-4 on December 27 in their first fixture.
The Barbarians Easter tour of south Wales took over as the highlight of their year. Stationing themselves in the Esplanade Hotel in Penarth they would face the home side on Good Friday, Cardiff the next day, Swansea on Easter Monday and Newport on the Tuesday, giving themselves just one day off, to play golf - a schedule unthinkable to today's players.
The Baa-Baas' first match against international opposition came in 1948 when the British and Irish unions raised a side to play the touring Australian side.
This started the tradition of the Final Challenge - played as the last match in a tour of Britain and Ireland by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
For most rugby fans, the Baa-Baas will always be synonymous with a try scored by Gareth Edwards on January 27, 1973 against the touring All Blacks.
Cliff Morgan's commentary as he described the free-flowing move from deep inside the Baa-Baas' own half is a treasured piece of nostalgia for rugby fans.
'Kirkpatrick to Williams. This is great stuff! Phil Bennett covering chased by Alistair Scown. Brilliant, oh, that's brilliant! John Williams, Bryan Williams. Pullin. John Dawes, great dummy. To David, Tom David, the halfway line! Brilliant by Quinnell! This is Gareth Edwards! A dramatic start! What a score! Oh that fellow Edward... If the greatest writer of the written word would've written that story no one would have believed it. That really was something.
Unfortunately, the Baa-Baas, shorn of their top British and Irish players could not muster anything close to that Edwards try when they lost heavily 59-8 to the Lions in Hong Kong as a curtain-raiser to the tour of Australia.
Bernard Duffy, Dublin.
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Q: How did the Garibaldi biscuit come to be named after the father of Italian nationalism?
Garret Reynolds, via email.
Q: How old is Planet Earth?
Eoin Kelly, Dublin.
Q: Do any airlines still allow their passengers to smoke?
Eric Roberts, London.
Q: I remember a Sixties children's TV programme in which the climax was of someone riding a bicycle down the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. What was it?
Stephen Williams, Dorridge, Solihull.
An enormous flop: The Ford Edsel, named after Henry Ford's son, has gone down in history as a joke…
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Publication information: Article title: World's Ugliest Car; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENTS. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Mail (London). Publication date: June 12, 2013. Page number: 42. © 2007 Daily Mail. COPYRIGHT 2013 Gale Group.
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