Today is the 59th anniversary of the introduction of the Edsel, Ford Motor Company’s attempt to launch a new, mid-priced car brand.

We all know it turned out badly. There was oddball styling, launching in a recession, political intrigue inside Ford’s upper management, poor quality control.

In San Diego County, some names that locals might recognize sold the Edsel. J.R. Townsend, which for years was on Kettner Boulevard downtown (also sold Studebakers but was most known for Lincoln and Mercury), then in Mission Valley. Townsend also had locations in La Mesa and National City.

Peto Motors in Oceanside and Escondido is listed; I seem to remember Peto still being in business in the ’80s. Also in Oceanside, C. Thomas Motors is listed.

In Hillcrest, there was a collection of dealers around University Avenue and Richmond Street; one of them was Ernie Walters, which sold Edsels. In the 60s I remember this dealer as being Pascal Dilday, a name that had all kinds of funny things for the 13-year-old in me.

The news clipping in the photo, from edsel.net, shows Dr. Albert Burkhardt getting the key to his car at the Townsend store. Dr. Burkhardt was the first Edsel buyer in San Diego.

Today, there’s usually an Edsel at a local car show, and there are car shows here every weekend. Make a visit to one your day trip.

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