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The Edsel Corsair was an automobile produced by the former Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln Division (M-E-L) of the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan and sold through its Edsel marque in 1958 and 1959. For 1958, the Corsair was built on the longer, wider Edsel platform shared with Mercury. For 1959, the Corsair shared the shorter, narrower Ranger platform with Ford.

1958

The Corsair represented the next-to-highest trim level available within the Edsel brand. It rode on Edsel's 124 in (2997 mm) wheelbase. In addition to high-grade interior appointments, the Corsair also received additional stainless steel trim and deluxe wheel covers. Available either as a two-door or four-door hardtop, the Corsair, like the premium Citation, shared its roof lines with Mercury models, as well as internal body components. Body parts between the Corsair and Citation models could not be shared with either the Ranger or Pacer, which were built on the shorter, narrower Ford frames. A deep-dished safety steering wheel was standard.

Like the Citation, the Corsair was powered by the 345 bhp (257 kW) 410 cu in (6.7 L) MEL V8 (with four-barrel {four choke} carburetor), and came equipped with Edsel’s Teletouch automatic as standard. (This was a US$231 option on Ranger and Pacer models.) Unlike other Ford models that used a column-mounted gear selector, Teletouch placed its drive-selection buttons in the steering wheel hub where drivers were accustomed to finding the horn button. In emergency situations, damage to the transmission that might occur if the driver hit the Teletouch unit instead of the steering wheel's horn ring was prevented by an electro-hydraulic switch activated by internal transmission fluid pressure. A basic heater (as a US$92 option) and radio (at US$95) were available, and air conditioning was optional as well (at US$460). Also optional was an automatic trunk release, a tachometer, an automatic lube system, seat belts, a padded dash board, warning lights for low oil level and parking brake on, plus rear door safety locks to prevent young kids from opening them while the car is moving.

While its roll-out was highly publicized in the fall of 1957, the 1958 Edsel was a marketing disaster for Ford and Ford's corporate strategy for meeting General Motors' product line for product line. Total Corsair output for the model stood at 9,987 units, only slightly better than the Citation. Of these units, 3,632 were hardtop coupes (3,312 U.S. and 320 Canadian-built) and 6,355 were four-door hardtops (5,880 U.S. and 475 Canadian-built). Prices for the Corsair in 1958 ranged from US$3,311 to $3,390.

Different Platforms

The model year of the Edsel's introduction was a post WW II high point of sorts for the Ford Motor Company. Three full-size platforms of distinctly different interior widths were in use each by Lincoln, Mercury and Ford, a situation that lasted until Ford received a much wider platform in 1960. Edsel shared both Mercury's and Ford's platform in 1958 and so offers an insight into their differing interior dimensions.

1959

The 1959 Edsels were introduced in the fall of 1958. However, for the 1959 model year, the Citation and Pacer models were dropped from Edsel's model range for 1959, as was the trouble-prone Teletouch system.

The 1959 Edsel's styling was significantly toned-down, as was the vertical grille assembly, which now featured a fine bar pattern. The Corsair now represented the premium Edsel model range, replacing the discontinued Citation. Unlike in 1958, the Corsair now shared its body panels with the Ranger - the two being differentiated by trim and options. The Corsair also gained a four-door sedan and convertible version.

The 1959 Corsair rode on a 120 in (3048 mm) wheelbase and the 361 cu in (5.9 L) FE V8 was standard in sedans, with either a two- or four-barrel carburetor as was a three-speed manual transmission. Replacing the Teletouch transmission was the Mile-O-Matic, a two-speed automatic, or Dual-Power Drive 3-speed automatic (only available with the 361). Heater, defroster, and radio remained optional, as well.

With total 1959 Corsair output at 9,318, the Corsair was discontinued. For 1959, 2,468 hardtop coupes (2,315 U.S./153 Canada), 1,812 four-door hardtops (1,694 U.S./118 Canada), 1,343 convertibles (all U.S.) and 3,695 four-door sedans (3,301 U.S./394 Canada), were produced; hardtop sales were down 31% in two-doors and 71% in four-doors against 1958. Prices ranged from US$2,812 to $3,072, down some 15% from the previous year.

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