Without that infamous grille, the Bermuda wouldn’t have been a bad old barge. The rest looked pretty safe and suburban, and even those faddish rear lights weren’t that offensive. At $3,155 it was the top Edsel wagon, wooing the WASPs with more mock wood than Disneyland.
But Ford had oversold the Edsel big time, and every model suffered guilt by association. Initial sales in 1957 were nothing like the predicted 200,000, but weren’t disastrous either. The Bermudas, though, found just 2,235 buyers and were discontinued after only one year. By ’58, people no longer believed the hype, and Edsel sales evaporated; the company went out of business in November 1959. Everybody knew that the ’58 recession killed the Edsel, but at Ford, major players in the project were cruelly demoted or fired.
Looking back, one wonders how one of the most powerful corporations in the world could possibly have signed off on such a stylistic debacle. ’58 Edsels weren’t just ugly, they were appallingly weird. The Bermuda’s side view, however, is innocuous enough and no worse than many half-timbered shopping-mall wagons of the period.
Edsel wagons were based on the 116 in (295 cm) Ford station wagon platform.
Push-button radio with manual antenna was an expensive $95 option.
The buyers had a choice of 161 different color combinations.
Note how the roof is slightly kinked to give the huge panel extra rigidity.
Not surprisingly for a station wagon this size, fuel consumption wasn’t great at 15 mpg (5.3 km/l).
The grille was so prominent that it required separate flanking bumpers. The Edsel mascot adorns the front of the hood; the name was chosen from 6,000 possibilities, including Mongoose, Turcotinga, and Utopian Turtletop.
49 percent of all Edsels had power steering.
ROOMY AND RARE
The nine-passenger Bermuda is the rarest of all ’58 Edsels, with just 779 built. Bermudas had innovative one-third/two-third design front seats and had acres of storage space.
92 percent of all Edsels had automatic transmission at $231.
Zany boomerang rear light clusters contained turn signal, stop, and backup lights. Despite later criticism of the models’ design, advance publicity ensured that 4,000 Edsels were sold when they were launched on “Edsel Day,” September 4, 1957.
Rear suspension was by leaf springs.
All wagons had four armrests, two coat hooks, dome lights, and white vinyl roof lining.
Never one of Edsel’s strongest selling points, the Teletouch gear selector was operated by push buttons in the center of the steering wheel. It was gimmicky and unreliable.
Teletouch button sent a signal to the car’s “precision brain.”
“They’re the industry’s newest—and the best,” cried the advertising. Edsel engines were strong 361 or 410cid V8s, with the station wagons usually powered by the smaller unit. The E400 on the valve covers indicates the unit’s amount of torque.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Edsel Bermuda (1958)
PRODUCTION 1,456 (1958, six-seater Bermudas)
BODY STYLE Four-door, six-seater station wagon.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body and chassis.
ENGINE 361cid V8.
POWER OUTPUT 303 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual with optional overdrive, optional three-speed automatic with or without Teletouch control.
SUSPENSION Front: independent coil springs; Rear: leaf springs with live axle.
BRAKES Front and rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 108 mph (174 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 10.2 sec
A.F.C. 15 mpg (5.3 km/l)