37 Years and 123,000 Miles Later, 1960 Edsel Is Still `Unique' to Its Sole Owner

Article excerpt

Jim Popp was barely eligible to get his driver's license when Ford Motor Co. began developing the Edsel in 1954. The flathead V-8 engine had been retired and the company was recovering from near collapse during the last days of its founder in the 1940s.

Young Mr. Popp was hardly out of high school when the first 1958 Edsel appeared in late 1957. When he was a semester away from graduation at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., in November 1959 the decision was made by Ford to end the Edsel.

The student had the use of a 1950 Mercury four-door sedan that was about half rusted away. So with graduation - and a real job with real money in sight - Mr. Popp went shopping.

He looked at most of the 1960 offerings and, with his mathematical mind working overtime, figured out the 1960 Edsel, at about one-third off was the best bargain. What really convinced him was the fact that the mechanical parts beneath the skin of the car were made up of a Ford drivetrain.

At Cunningham Motors in Turtle Creek, Pa., he found his 1960 Edsel four-door Ranger.

In the last year of production only 1,288 four-door sedans were manufactured. Mr. Popp still has the original window sticker of his first spanking new car.

It indicates the white over Sahara beige sedan carried a base price of $2,697.

Extra-cost options on the car include:

* Mile-O-Matic Drive: $189.60

* Power steering: $81.80

* Temperature lever: $74.45

* Push button radio: $64.95

* White sidewall tires: $35.70

* Safety package: $20.60

* Rocker panel moulding: $17.00

* Two-tone paint: $17.00

* Full wheel covers: $16.60

* Windshield washer: $13.45

* Backup lights: $9.50

* Electric wipers: $8.40

The well-appointed 3,700-pound sedan was assembled in Louisville, Ky., and with $26 in transportation costs added in the asking price soared to $3,272.05.

Mr. Popp sold the old Mercury for $75 and then talked the Edsel dealer into knocking about one-third off the price. He took delivery on Dec. 14, 1959. Christmas that year smelled like the inside of a new car.

For 1960 Edsel had abandoned the horse-collar-grille styling, and from a distance the silhouettes of 1960 Fords and Edsels were virtually indistinguishable.

The wheelbase of the Edsel was bumped up to 120 inches, an inch longer than Ford's 119 inches to make room for an improved five-leaf spring rear suspension system.

To further differentiate the Edsel from the Ford, the Edsel stylists accented the rear of the car with four windsplits running down to the rear of the car where they ended in a quartet of vertical ovals, two red and two white. A pair of ribs at each end of the rear bumper visually continues the line under the taillights. …