Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Edsel Ford

Edsel Bryant Ford (November 6, 1893 – May 26, 1943), son of Henry Ford, was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He was president of Ford Motor Company from 1919 until his death in 1943.
As the only child of Clara and Henry Ford, Edsel was groomed to take over the family automobile business, and had grown up tinkering on cars with his father. He became secretary of Ford in 1915 and married Eleanor Lowtian Clay (1896–1976), niece of department store owner J. L. Hudson, on November 1, 1916. Together they had four children: Henry Ford II (1917–1987), Benson Ford (1919–1978), Josephine Clay Ford (1923–2005), and William Clay Ford (born 1925). They made their home at 2171 Iroquois St, in the Indian Village neighborhood of Detroit.
Ford went to The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut and Detroit University School. His family donated to both institutions and the school library at Hotchkiss is named the Edsel Ford Memorial Library.
The younger Ford showed more interest than his father in flashier styling for automobiles. He indulged this proclivity in part with the purchase of the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922. His affinity for sports cars was demonstrated in his personal vehicles: Edsel bought the first MG motorcar imported to the United States. In 1932 he had an aluminum, boat-tailed speedster automobile custom-designed for him by Ford's first designer, E.T. (Bob) Gregorie. This car had a number of features that were not available on any other car. Most of the design features appeared in many Ford models throughout history. The car had Ford's brand-new V8, the first low-cost eight-cylinder engine. The car is considered the world's first "Hot Rod" by many car experts and historians. Two years later Edsel had another car designed, this one a low-riding aluminum-bodied speedster. The latter two cars he kept for the remainder of his life and inspired the design of the Lincoln Continental. The 1934 roadster was sold at auction in 2009 for $1.79 million dollars.
After becoming president of Ford, Edsel long advocated the introduction of a more modern automobile to replace the Model T, but was repeatedly overruled by his father. Flagging sales and dwindling market share for the company, however, finally made introduction of a new model inevitable, the Model A.
During the design phase for the Model A in 1927, Henry Ford assured mechanical quality and reliability, leaving it to his son to develop the body design, with the help of designer József Galamb. Edsel also prevailed upon his father to allow the inclusion of four-wheel mechanical brakes and a sliding-gear transmission on this model. The resulting Model A was a commercial success, selling over four million during four years of production.
As president, Edsel Ford often disagreed with his father on major decisions, and was occasionally humiliated in public by the older man. The relationship between the father and son was always close but also always fraught with unhealthy aspects. However, Edsel managed to introduce many lasting changes. He founded and named the Mercury division. He was responsible for the Lincoln Zephyr and Lincoln Continental. He significantly strengthened Ford Motors' overseas production, and he worked to modernize the company's cars, such as by the introduction of hydraulic brakes

“I helped Will finish planting their potatoes this forenoon.  Plowed on our potato ground this afternoon.  Was pleasant until towards night.  Had quite a heavy thunder shower about 7 o’clock.  Pat helped this forenoon.”

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