This is College Cars, another look into the automobile collection of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Today we're looking at a 1959 Edsel Corsair.
We all know the story of the Edsel and how it became one of the auto industry's biggest flops. In retrospect, it's hardly the worst car ever made and quite frankly I love them. Perhaps its two greatest flaws were being built on the same assembly line as Fords (causing quality to suffer due to confusion or parts shortage) and daring to be different with a vertical grille that in some ways harks back to the cars of the 1930s. But the public today remembers Edsel mostly as a punchline. I don't think that's fair.
The 1959 Corsair convertible is a rare animal, with only 1,343 built. As the Academy likes to show off their recent additions at the San Francisco International Auto Show every year, and this one appeared at the 2011 show, I assume that it is the multiple award-winning car that sold at Gooding & Company's auction at Amelia Island in 2010, for $99,000. Perhaps the most fascinating detail about this car is its history, as it
was built for the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, complete
with a metric speedometer. A Soviet official tried to buy the car and,
when denied by a Ford PR man, blocked the rep's return visa to the U.S.
until a sufficient bribe was placed. After its tour of duty in the
Soviet Union, the car at some point ended up in a German museum and
later made its way back to the States. It bounced from collector to auction
house and back before it ended up in the hands of the Academy of Art. It still has the box of Russian documentation and original spare parts in the trunk from 1959.
As an editorial note, I really don't think the continental kit helps this car at all. Perhaps a rare option or period addition? As huge as the Corsair already is, I'd much prefer it without the big extension. Still an amazing car though.