RVs of the Apocalypse, Part 2: The Winnebedsel
As a second installment of this series, here’s another entry on the vein of car conversions: the one and only Edsel motorhome.
This vehicle came to the attention of RV enthusiasts through an ebay listing in 2011 and an amazing site called “Weird RVs”, source for the link and image above. A post at Autoblog offers a gallery of pictures of this surreal creation, including a few interior shots. I incorporated it into my “Zombie Vegas” series, giving it the name Winnebedsel, and featured it on the original “cover” of Volume 4 in the ebook version of the series. I retired the image for continuity with other volumes as well as copyright concerns raised by others, but the retired cover has been restored in the Barnes and Nobel edition.
Naturally, the Edsel saga is a matter of very longstanding interest to me. Most discussions tend to sharply divide into two camps, apologists who characterize the Edsel as an at least reasonably sound vehicle that simply failed to capture a changing market and critics who characterize it as a true lemon. Personally, I think it’s fair to say that the Edsel was a mediocre car at best, but no more so than any number of cars of its time. By almost all accounts, the main factors in its lasting infamy was Ford’s own marketing campaign, which in hindsight might as well have been a controlled experiment to test the hypothesis that there IS such a thing as bad publicity, and genuine problems with experimental features and overall quality control, undoubtedly compounded by the mind-boggling practice of sending cars to dealers with parts still awaiting installation. I believe one shouldn’t underestimate the role of the infamous “toilet seat” grill, which if nothing else ensured that the Edsel would be immediately recognizable.
As a bonus, here’s some Edsel lore I unearthed recently. First, here’s a web page with what is reported to be a 1953 concept sketch for the Edsel. The sketch (assuming authenticity) offers confirmation of accounts that the vertical grill was originally meant to be far less obtrusive, though it would appear that the aesthetics were problematic enough before being enlarged into the iconic “toilet seat” of the original 1958 model. The vertical grill was subsequently shrunk on the 1959 models, and retired in the final 1960 model year. The later model years also saw the retirement of the notorious “Teletouch” push-button transmission. Second, I discovered information on a line of Edsel ambulances, or “amblewagons”, which I couldn’t resist working into “Re-Deanimator”. It appears that the Edsel was one of a number of cars used by a company that converted station wagons into ambulances, naturally begging the question what emergency could be worse than riding in an Edsel. Even more ironically, similar specialized Edsels were used as hearses, and provisions appear to have been made for converting an ambulance into a hearse. Here’s my favorite picture from the “amblewagon” page.