Friday, August 17, 2012

It's VULVA, not "Volvo"!

In finding an illustration for today's strange topic, I had to pick from a bunch of different Edsel ads. One was much more esthetically pleasing than this one and showed the car sweeping through a pair of opening gates, with harp glissandos and announcers saying if you had an Edsel, you were showing the world "you've arrived!" The only reason I didn't use it is that it was transferred from film stock that had gone bad, all pink and bleary like a particularly nasty eye infection.

Lots of these things have arrived in auto graveyards, but some people are refurbishing them and putting them in car shows. The fact that it is quite possibly the most hideous automobile ever made does not deter them. In fact it seems to lend them a certain exotic charm.

Having a 1958 Edsel in perfect condition is kind of like having a set of Nazi medals that look "like new". Like, who'd want to?

People have posed various theories about the Edsel, why the intensive and supposedly foolproof ad campaign fell so flat. Was the timing wrong for a new luxury car? Was it too pricey for the typical-average-American-family-of-the-'50s-who-wanted-a-new-car-every-2-years-but-couldn't-always-afford-it-because-Mom-spent-too-much-on-her-effing-manicures? Did it, like the infamous Jaguar, refuse to start?

No, it was just butt-ugly and that's all there is to say about it. Looking at it now sets my teeth on edge: it has a face on it like a robot from Hell.

It looks hostile. It looks aggressive. It looks like some good ol' boy fired up on corn squeezin's and toting a slingshot and a bag o'rocks.


The more I watched this video, which I picked for the elegant chrome-laden, turquoise-and-white decor that sums up the '50s, the more I realized it wasn't an Edsel ad at all, but some guy driving his vintage Edsel with some other guy filming it. The other guy's rear-view mirror just kept showing and the cars in the other lanes were too recent. But I don't want to change it cuz the other ads all run about 8 1/2 minutes and feature Bing Crosby, and I couldn't stand that, I'd have a seizure on the spot. It's bad enough even thinking about these automotive nightmares.

This is the kind-of-a-thing that caused Stephen King to write that, you know, that BOOK, and inspired nightmarish TV shows like My Mother the Car.

The name Edsel has come to be synonymous with failure on a great and embarrassing level. But there's so much ugly on it, let's call it Synonymous with Shit-awful, old, chromy, boxy, monster-faced Car-Ideas that whoever thought of it should have shoved so far down their throat it would come out the other side. Or something like that.

Coda. I hate research more than I hate worms, but I had to include this tasty snippet from Wiki:

The Edsel is best remembered for its trademark "horsecollar" or toilet seat grille, which was quite distinct from other cars of the period. According to a popular joke at the time, the Edsel "resembled an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon".[11] Some have speculated that the car failed to sell because its grille resembled a vulva.[12]

The Edsel's front-end ensemble as it eventually appeared bore little resemblance, if any, to the original concept. Roy Brown, the original chief designer on the Edsel project, had envisioned a slender, almost delicate opening in the center. Engineers, fearing engine cooling problems, vetoed the intended design, which led to the now-infamous "horsecollar."

(Hey! That's vulva to you, mister!)


  1. Many references said the grill reminded people of "a vagina". Since a vagina is a hole, a non-thing so to speak, that's pretty strange. Society has a deep revulsion to "vulva" and all it stands for and would rather women have a hygienic, symmetrical tube and nothing else. Kind of like a paper towel roll.

  2. Only the insecure and the repressed fear holes. The rest of us find them mysterious and fascinating.