Saturday, September 4, 2010

On success, failure and the Ford Edsel



Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.

- Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
As quoted in Believing in Ourselves (1992) by Armand Eisen, p. 15

This quote by the late French fashion designer "Coco" Chanel lead us into today's topic - failure. 


On September 4, 1957, the Ford Motor Company introduced a new car – the Edsel. It was named after Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son who died of cancer in 1943 at the age of 49.  Only three years later, the Edsel was discontinued due to slow sales. The car was a costly and unpopular flop. It was considered to be ugly, over-hyped and expensive.  The name “Edsel” became synonymous with failure.

I am not knowledgeable about automobiles and I don’t even have a driver’s licence. Yet, I have always been interested in the Edsel. When I worked at the Toronto Star Library, I looked at archival photographs of the Edsel there. I can’t really explain the fascination. Perhaps it’s just curiosity about why this car was such a monumental lead balloon.

Ironically, the much reviled Edsel has had some degree of vindication. It is now a rare collector’s item and worth quite a sizable amount of money. About six years ago, I spotted an Edsel in a parking lot in Goderich, Ontario. It was in pristine condition.

Note: Did you know there is an independent online magazine called Failure? Failure Magazine is described as featuring “thought-provoking analysis of failures (and successes)” in business, arts etc.

Click on the following two links.  The first link will show you an ad for an Edsel and several photographs of the exterior and interior of the 1958 Edsel Citation. The second link will show you an ad for a 1958 Edsel.,6887623&dq=1958+edsel&hl=en


“Edsel’ is derived from an Old German word meaning “noble”. It had a small degree of popularity as a boy’s name in the late 1920s. After the failure of Ford’s car, the name virtually disappeared. When was the last time you met someone called Edsel?


In keeping with the subject of failure, the Blue Jays failed to win against he New York Yankees.  They lost 7-3 in the Bronx.  Brandon Morrow pitched his final game of the season.  He finished on a low note after pitching so well all season.  It hasn't been easy for him because he has had to battle diabetes. 

- Joanne

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