Every time I have the good fortune of seeing an Edsel, I pause to give myself time to
appreciate this automobile. Named after Edsel Ford, son of Henry, the Edsel aimed to fill a perceived gap in the market between Ford and Mercury models. The Edsel possessed unique body lines that stood out in the automotive landscape of its time. While the Edsel's
distinctive "horse collar" grille and body styling may have been polarizing, it undeniably had a distinct and eye-catching appearance that set it apart from other vehicles
of that era. Edsel never saw his namesake as he died long before it ever rolled off the production line.
Many do not know that Edsel, while president of the Ford Motor Company (1919-1943), played a crucial role in aiding the war effort during World War II. Recognizing the significance of the conflict and the responsibility of the automotive industry to contribute, Edsel dedicated Ford Motor Company's resources to the production of war materials. Under his direction, company production lines were transformed to focus on building trucks, jeeps, tanks, armored vehicles, and aircraft engines, among other critical items required by the armed forces.
One of the notable contributions of Ford Motor Company during this time was the production of 6,792 B-24 Liberator bombers. Edsel Ford pushed for the establishment of the Willow Run manufacturing plant in Michigan, which became a crucial facility for mass-producing these aircraft. Willow Run was an industrial marvel, capable of producing one bomber per hour at its peak and significantly aiding the Allied war effort. The Willow Run plant is said to be the home of “Rosie the Riveter” which is appropriate since each B-24 had over 3,000 rivets.
Perhaps this year, as the 4th of July parade passes by, you might catch a glimpse of an Edsel gracefully rolling along. As you marvel at the beauty of this automobile, I encourage you to also pay tribute to its namesake, recognizing the contribution made by Edsel Ford towards our cherished independence.