Ah, but it was all more complex than that...
Ford reckoned they would sell 200,000 cars in the first year; an optimistic 5% of the market. Nearly 3 million Americans visited Ford dealers the first week of the car's launch in September 1957. The problem was hardly any of them bought the car. One of the biggest issues, of course, was the radiator. This was a time when all American cars had wide horizontal radiators.
Although Ford said that it was horse collar shaped or "like a Norman shield" others compared it to a toilet seat. Time magazine famously said that it "looked like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon". Where the vagina allusion came from is not clear but the design of the grill does even seems to have labia majora and labia minora. There were a number of other problems with it other than its looks, although Ralph Nader commented; the Edsel is "Un-stylish at any speed".
The price banding didn't work out too well either. Designed to fit between the Ford and Mecury ranges the cheapest Edsell was actually cheaper than the most expensive Ford and the most expensive Edsel was more expensive than 2 out of the 4 Mercury models. Possibly more fatal was the fact that it was launched right at the beginning of the first recession Post War America had faced. People just weren't going to upgrade their cars at this time. It was also heavy on (premium grade) petrol at a time when even Americans were looking to fuel economy more than before. Despite disappointing sales of only 63,000 in the first year Ford persevered using incentives like cash back and even offering the chance to win a pony if you took one for a test drive. But in 1959 they only sold 45,000 cars. In the end Ford spent $400,000,000 on developing the Edsel and it sold just 111,000 cars before Ford pulled the plug in 1960.
Today only around 6,000 Edsels survive and, as is often the way, mint examples fetch over $100,000 each. Rare models like the 1960 convertible go for $200,000. They are almost too valuable to drive and the Washington Post said that "the car famous for its ugliness is now a rare and valued collector's item, like a Faberge egg." Ironic, given that during the name search in 1957, David Wallace, Fords' director of planning, asked pre-eminent America poet Marianne Moore for her ideas on possible names. Ford Faberge was one of her suggestions. Rather better than some of her other names which, given its reception, might have been more appropriate: Intelligent Whale, Bullet Cloisonne, Mongoose Civique and Utopian Turtletop.