Ford introduced the Edsel in 1957 to target the mid-range U.S. market, but it did not succeed and closed in 1959. Only 1,343 of this attractive and powerful Corsair were built. After a less than successful introductory year, Ford made a decision that would doom the Edsel to a very short life. Since the Edsel had been introduced during the recession of late 1957-1958, Ford decided to cut back on the higher priced lines which were not selling very well, and concentrate on the lower priced series.
This left the relatively good selling Ranger as the base model. The Corsair, lower priced of the two 1958 Mercury-based Edsel series, was now based on the Ford chassis, essentially replacing the former Pacer series. Other changes made to scale back the costs of the cars included the elimination of some of the uniquely Edsel features such as the "Tele-Touch" pushbutton automatic transmission selector, instrument panel design, and upholstery and seat design. Even the "horse-collar" grille was scaled back to allow sharing of more parts with Ford. The front end and most body sheetmetal were still unique to the Edsel, with a smaller vertical center grille that now housed a single grille insert with Edsel emblem on it. The hood was bumped up slightly, and the full-width bumper had a dip in it, both to accommodate the vertical portion. Dual headlights were now set within the ends of the grille that were now made up of horizontal bars divided up into what appeared to be three columns, and were actually indentations. Both series shared the greenhouse area with Ford and featured the wraparound windshield and backlights, with a somewhat formal C-pillar.
Rear quarter panels were also unique to the Edsel, using a flat top rear quarter, as opposed to the Ford's small tailfin containing the backup light. The station wagons shared sheetmetal with Ford from the front door back, so they had the same Ford rear quarter panel, but the Edsel used dual taillamps in the round portion of the fin, and a round backup light was placed in the round cove area of the back end and tailgate, where the taillight would be on a Ford. With the rear bodyside cove gone, side trim was of a full-length, two-piece design. The top trim on both series ran straight from the front fender edge, just above the headlight trim, back to the middle of the rear quarter panel, at roughly the same height as the taillamps on the back end. The bottom trim piece differed between the two series.
The Ranger's ran parallel to the top molding on the front fender, then dipped down several inches on the front door, then came back upwards, gradually moving closer to the top trim piece until they met at the back end. On the Corsair, the bottom trim gradually ran downhill from the front end until it was past the front door, then dipped down and ran back to meet the top trim at the back end. In between the two pieces of trim on the Corsair was a silver insert similar to that used on the 1958 Citation. All cars carried the Edsel name in block letters below the bodyside trim on the front fender and door. Series designations were on the rear quarter panel end, below the side trim, except on wagons, which had a tailgate trim piece with the name "Villager" in the middle.
At the back, the trunk lid continued to have a winglike design when viewed directly from behind, with a recessed section in the center. Taillamps moved from the top fender and trunk line horizontal position, down to the center of the rear panel, and consisted of two horizontally placed round taillights with a backup light to the inside, with the exception of station wagons, which used the design described above. The rear lights were similar in design to those used on the 1958 Continental. Inside, the Edsel adopted a Ford instrument panel, with only a unique instrument cluster and trim variations to set them apart. The Edsel instrument cluster now included a traditional style horizontal speedometer, but two pods at each end contained the fuel gauge and oil pressure warning light at left and temperature gauge and generator warning light at right.
Under the hood, the base Ford 292 CID V8 engine became standard for the Ranger series and Villager station wagons. The Ford 223 CID 6-cylinder was available on these cars with an $84 price credit. Standard on the Corsair, and optional on all other models, was the Ford 332 CID V8. Topping the line was the only surviving exclusively Edsel engine, the 361 CID V8, formerly known as the "E-400" and now termed the "Edsel Super Express." With the "Tele-Touch" automatic transmission selector gone, a conventional column-mounted shift lever was fitted with either the new "Dual-Power Drive" 3-speed or "Mile-OMatic Drive" 2-speed automatic transmission. Overdrive was no longer available for the 3-speed manual transmission.