- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 29, 2004

Edsel entered the automotive scene in the autumn of 1957 with the introduction of the 1958 models featuring the horse-collar grilles. A total of 63,110 Edsels was built for the 1958 model year. When the total for 1959 dropped to 44,891, Ford made the difficult decision to pull the plug on Edsel and the end came in November 1959.

Before the end came, however, a handful of 1960 models were built with a split horizontal grille similar to that on the 1959 Pontiac replacing the horse-collar grille.

Only 2,846 Edsels were manufactured during the 44-day production run of 1960 Edsels, all of them in 1959.

The first 1960 Edsel, serial No. 1, was a Ranger four-door hardtop sedan with a Polate White top over an Alaskan Gold metallic body.

A vice president of parts at Ford Motor Co. reportedly was the original owner.

Records indicate that after he drove the Edsel about 120,000 miles in five years he then parked the road-weary car. He supposedly kept the car because it was serial No. 1. No. 1 sat in his Detroit back yard for three decades.

Other Edsel models include Pacer, Corsair, Citation, Bermuda and Villager.

When Fred Aherns of North Branch, Minn., spotted the car, he alerted his friend Jim Popp in Davidsonville, Md. Jim and Carolyn Popp are no strangers to the Edsel collector community and he gave Mr. Aherns the go ahead to buy the rusted relic and take it to Minnesota.

The car was so far gone, Mr. Popp says, that if it weren’t No. 1 it would have been sent to the crusher.

Instead, it sat in a Minnesota barn for a year while parts and upholstery fabric were located. When all was in order, the work began. “Nothing on the car was usable,” Mr. Popp says. “We had to rebuild everything.

“A five-year, frame-off restoration was needed to bring the car to its present condition,” Mr. Popp says.

Three engines were offered in 1960 Edsels, a small 145-horsepower, 222-cubic-inch V-8, a large 300-horsepower, 352-cubic-inch V-8 or the one in his Edsel, a medium-size 185-horsepower, 292-cubic-inch V-8 with a two-barrel carburetor.

“Fred used two other rust-free Edsels to replace the body panels and for parts,” Mr. Popp says.

The cavernous trunk is best described by Mr. Popp as a six-by-six.

The handsome interior is upholstered in impossible-to-find Moroccan gold vinyl and brown pebble cloth. He had to have the material produced.

Beneath the engine hood is an air cleaner atop the V-8 with valve covers painted what Mr. Popp describes as “OSHA safety green.”

“Serial No. 1 is equipped with a two-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning,” He remarks. “Only 50 Edsels in 1960 were air conditioned.”

The base price of his 3,718-pound Edsel in 1960 was $2,770. “There were a total of 135 four-door sedans built and only 25 are still extant,” he says.

The four vertical lights at the rear, red outboard and white inboard ride above the chrome plated E-D-S-E-L lettering below the lip of the trunk lid. The “S” is mounted on the gas filler door.

The biggest problem in reassembling the restored car came when installing the windshield. It wouldn’t fit. It turned out that one of the “A” pillars was short.

Some metallurgic surgery solved the dilemma and the car was made whole.

Mr. Popp is satisfied now that his first of all the 1960 Edsels is restored to perfection.

What is perplexing is that he also wants the last of the 2,848 Edsels built for the 1960 model year.

“It was a wagon,” he says. He just doesn’t know were it is — yet.

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