Birthday: November 6, 1893
Died At Age: 49
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Edsel Bryant Ford
Born in: Detroit, Michigan
Famous as: Henry Ford's Son
Spouse/Ex-: Eleanor Lowthian Clay (1916 – his death. 1943)
father: Henry Ford
mother: Clara Jane Ford
children: Benson Ford, Henry Ford II, Josephine Clay Ford, William Clay Ford Sr.
Died on: May 26, 1943
place of death: Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
City: Detroit, Michigan
U.S. State: Michigan
education: The Hotchkiss School, University Liggett School
Edsel Ford, the only son of Henry Ford, was the heir to ‘Ford Motor Company’, one of the largest automobile manufacturing companies in the world. Edsel was very much different from his self-centred and autocratic father, Henry Ford. Edsel was always overshadowed by his father's success and obsessive personality. He became the President of ‘Ford Motor Company’ at 25. Though he worked closely with his father he designed cars according to his taste. He revolutionized the company's automotive design. Edsel was gifted in design. He pushed his father to improve the design of cars built by Ford. Edsel was fascinated by the shape of the automobiles than their working. He created the most stylish automobiles. He displayed the intelligence, ability and mastery of detail to respond to key issues. He established the ‘Ford Design Department’ and he was the guiding light behind Ford's Design department. He regularly had cars made for his personal use. He had an affinity for sports cars. The company wouldn't have survived without his firm decisions and cool guidance. He was a sensitive artistic man who loved automobiles. Edsel founded the ‘Mercury’ division and was responsible for ‘Lincoln Zephyr’ and ‘Lincoln Continental’.
Childhood & Early Life
Edsel Bryant Ford was born on November 6, 1893, at Detroit, Michigan. He was the only son of Henry Ford, the Founder, Ford Motor Company, and Clara Jane Ford.Edsel went to ‘The Hotchkiss School’, in Lakeside, Connecticut and then attended ‘Detroit University School’. He graduated in 1912. Edsel was not allowed to attend college after graduating from high school but was asked by his father to work for ‘Ford Motor Company’.
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Edsel Ford joined ‘Ford Motor Company’ in 1912, right after his high school graduation, as his father thought he would learn all he needed by working for the company.
In 1915, at the age of 21, Edsel was appointed as the Secretary of ‘Ford Motor Company’. He was also named to the company's board of directors.
In January 1917 Edsel became the Vice-President of the company. On January 1, 1919, Edsel Ford succeeded his father as President of ‘Ford Motor Company’.
Edsel influenced his father to take over the bankrupt ‘Lincoln Motor Company’. In 1922 Ford acquired Lincoln for $8 million. Edsel became the Chairman of Ford Motor in January 1926.
Edsel wanted cars to be more exciting than the Model T (Tin Lizzie), which was designed by his father Henry Ford. He assembled Model A in May 1927. It was a huge commercial success.
Edsel established the ‘Ford Design Department’ in 1935. The first designer hired by Edsel was E.T. Gregorie.
Edsel along with his father set up the philanthropic ‘Ford Foundation’ in 1936.
In 1937 the ‘Lincoln Zephyr’, the first vehicle from ‘Ford Design Department’ blew everyone's mind. It made everyone recognize the importance of design.
In 1938 Edsel designed the ‘Mercury 8’, the first vehicle for Mercury brand.‘Lincoln Continental’ was introduced in 1940 as a personal vehicle of Edsel Ford.
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Edsel Ford assembled ‘Model A’ in May 1927 which was a huge hit, selling 4 million units within 4 years.
He established the ‘Ford Design Department’ in 1935.
Edsel introduced low prized, mid-sized luxury car, ‘Lincoln Zephyr’, in 1935.
‘Mercury’ was founded by Edsel in 1938. It was aimed for the high-volume middle-market.
Edsel launched low prized, full-size luxury car, ‘Lincoln Continental’ in 1940.
Edsel made crucial engineering and styling decisions for Lincoln.
Edsel introduced hydraulic brakes in Ford cars.
Family & Personal Life
Edsel Ford married Eleanor Lowthian Clay, niece of Joseph.L.Hudson, owner of Detroit's largest department store, on November 1, 1916, in Dearborn, Michigan. Edsel and his wife lived in Detroit's fashionable Indian Village section.
Their first child, Henry II, was born in 1917 followed by Benson in 1919, Josephine in 1923 and William in 1925. The family moved to their dream home in Grosse Pointe Shores, an elite Detroit suburb.
Edsel enjoyed painting and collecting art. He was the principal benefactor of ‘Detroit Institute of Arts’.
Edsel was a trustee in the ‘Museum of Modern Art’ in New York City from 1935 to 1943. He was the President of ‘Detroit Arts Commission’.
He was a generous patron of the ‘Detroit Symphony Society’.(Edsel was operated for a stomach ulcer in 1942 and doctors discovered rapidly spreading cancer.
Edsel died tragically on May 26, 1943, due to undulant fever and inoperable stomach cancer.
The main detriment to his health was the stress of running the company and pressure from his father.
Edsel was named after Henry Ford's closest childhood friend Edsel Ruddiman. Edsel may have contracted undulant fever from drinking unpasteurized milk from Ford farm which caused his death.
Edsel Ford was not a combative person. Confrontation and conflict were totally foreign to his nature. So Edsel put up with his father's harsh and arrogant behaviour throughout his lifetime.