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Edsel in Hillsboro is heading to a new home

Staff writer

Ford’s Edsel division produced only 2,781 two-door 1958 Edsel Citations.

One is sitting in a garage in Hillsboro.

“It was one of those barn finds,” Duke Eldridge said.

Eldridge bought the car 1½ years ago. He was going to try to restore it, but time — and the required skills — got away from him.

He’s sold the car to Tony Corpstein, a friend who lives outside Topeka.

“The plan is to fix it up and get it drivable,” Corpstein said.

Corpstein also owns a 1935 Chevrolet Coupe. That car was mostly restored when he got it.

“It just needed wiring and small stuff,” he said.

While the Edsel started the last time Eldridge tried, it will need some work.

“It’s pretty rough,” Corpstein said. “I haven’t heard it run, but he said it did when he picked it up.”

Corpstein will do some of the work himself and hire out some. He plans to pick it up in July or August.

Edsels weren’t moneymakers for Ford. Quite the opposite, in fact.

A 2007 Washington Post story said: “The Edsel fizzled. It flopped. It tanked. It became a national joke, the car that launched a million punch lines. By November 1959, when Ford finally mercy-killed the Edsel, it had lost an estimated $250 million — nearly $2 billion in today’s dollars.”

Still, seeing one — let alone owning one — is a rarity.

“The uniqueness of it,” Corpstein said when asked why he was interested in buying Eldridge’s car. “There aren’t very many of them around, and it has some unique features to it.”

One of the unique features is its horse collar grill. While Ford called the Edsel the car of the future, some people made fun of its design.

“Undoubtedly the most controversial feature of the new Edsel was the shield, or ‘horse collar’ grill,” the website edsel.net indicates. “Designed to be instantly recognizable as an Edsel from a distance of several blocks, the grill was said, by some, to resemble a toilet seat and made the car look like ‘an Olds sucking a lemon.’ ”

Corpstein’s wife, however, is charmed by the design.

“She’s the one who really enjoys the Edsel,” he said. “For some reason, it catches her eye.”

This Citation is a faded red. Corpstein thinks it originally was black. “The red is flaking off,” he said.

He’s not sure what color they’ll paint the car. The interior also has seen better days. Still, Corpstein considers it a find. “I’ve been seeing a few on the internet for sale,” he said. “I know they’re out there.”

Last modified June 14, 2023

 

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