by John Quilter March 2014
A while back Brooklin produced a 1:43 scale 1960 Edsel convertible in an attractive dark metallic blue. This was quite similar to the 1960 Ford Sunliner convertible (also made by Brooklin) as by this time in Edsel’s short history Ford had economised by making the two brands share much of the body sheet metal, mechanicals and engineering. Trim, grilles and other visual features were what distinguished the two marques. In my never-ending quest to create something different, but still representative of a real production automotive product, I got to thinking after acquiring an extra IXO James Bond partwork 1:43 scale 1960 Ford Ranch Wagon (white car below) that I might be able to make an Edsel Villager wagon of the same year.
A bit of background: 1960 was the third year of Edsel production, and they were becoming more Ford-like every year, to gain economies of scale and to simplify production. Even with these efforts, and an attempt to bring the car somewhat downmarket, to remain more exclusive than a Ford but less exclusive than a Mercury in the FoMoCo pecking order, sales were lagging. The usual Autumn introduction put some cars in dealers’ hands, but they were not selling as well as expected. Then there was a widespread steel production strike in the Autumn of 1959 and all car production stopped for a while. During this time Ford evaluated the Edsel brand and decided not to resume production after the strike was settled. Thus the rarest of all Edsels are the 1960 models, having been made for a greatly shortened model year. There were only 275 1960 Edsel wagons built, but 144,688 1960 Ford four-door wagons and even more two-door wagons were made. The 1960 Edsel convertible is the rarest of all, with only 76 being produced, so in 1:1 scale it is now a highly collectible vehicle.
As I began this project, I was warned by a fellow MAR reader and chopper that it might not work, as a close inspection of the Ranch Wagon would show that from above the body tapers to the front. It did taper, which threw my plan of using a cloned Brooklin Edsel grille (blue convertible below) off. My initial plan was to cast in resin a copy of a Brooklin grille, front and rear bumpers and wheels and transplant these to the Ranch Wagon. But a bit of measuring showed the Brooklin grille would be about an eighth of an inch too wide. After pondering this dilemma I was willing to make an attempt at widening the Ford from the cowl (scuttle) forward. Out came the jeweller’s saw and a pair of carefully cut slits down the hood (bonnet) to fender (wing) joint allowed me to actually bend the usually brittle mazak just a bit to reduce the rear to front taper and permit the Edsel grille to fit the aperture as well as the front bumper.
The rear of the Edsel wagon differs considerably from the Ranch Wagon but Ford Motor Company body engineers cleverly did this on the station wagons with only trim and the four vertical tail lamps, the inner two being reversing lamps. For the model, the tail lamps were made with styrene plastic, framed with small strips of sheet aluminum to replicate the chrome surrounds. The Edsel also had a distinctive sweeping chrome moulding down the flanks, which was created with a half-round styrene strip available at a hobby shop.
Resin casting of minor parts like the bumpers, wheels and grille took some time since I discovered my RTV moulding material had gone stale since its last use. I use a casting kit made by Alumilite which consists of a two-part RTV material, which is a sort of putty the consistency of honey and with a catalyst to mix in, which causes it to harden to a flexible rubber-like material. You have to place the pattern item you want to cast into a suitable small container, then pour this mould material over the pattern, ensuring that there are no air gaps and that the pattern stays stationary during the curing time of about 24 hours. Then, you cut a slit in the mould material and out pops the undamaged pattern. Then the two-part resin material for the final cloned part is mixed in a one-to-one ratio thoroughly, and poured into the cavity left by the popped out pattern. This is a time-critical process, as the resin needs to be fully mixed in short order, then poured all within a 60 second period, as it soon begins to harden. If your mould is well made you will get an amazing replica of the pattern you started with. Then, if it is a bumper or grille it will need to be Bare Metal Foiled before installation on the car.
By using a website of American car sales brochures (http://www.lov2xlr8.no/broch1.html) I was able to see some factory colour choices for the exterior and the upholstery colours and design (note: for some reason Edsel brochures are hidden under the category Ford). This site is a fabulous reference site for old American car information, photos, and specifications.
The resin wheels were Bare Metal Foiled and fitted with some whitewall tyres made by Durham Classics, which are often available on eBay.
As a side note, the 1960 Ford station wagon is now available from Premium-X as a very attractive Country Squire in black with faux wood trim, or the entry level Ranch Wagon in red with a white top, both with whitewall tyres. Unfortunately, Premium X did not see fit to upgrade the small hub caps on the Country Squire to the full wheel covers that would have been fitted to virtually all of the top of the line Country Squire editions.
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