1958 Edsel Rear Suspension Information....
Accessories That Never Made It To Production
Several prototypes were designed with "Edsel-Aire" ride (4-wheel airbag suspension with auto-leveling valves) but no production or pilot cars ever had the option installed. An intra-company communication dated January 8, 1958 on file at the Benson Ford Archives at Dearborn lists the sales item numbers for forty advance production Edsels with air suspension installed: seventeen Citation four-door hardtops, sixteen Pacer four-door hardtops, two Pacer sedans, one Pacer convertible, one Ranger two-door sedan, one Corsair two-door hardtop and one Corsair four-door hardtop, plus four additional Pacer four-door hardtops that were shipped to various regional service centers to be retrofit with air suspension kits shipped from San Jose. San Jose built one air suspension Edsel, Louisville assembled the rest of the junior series, and Wayne assembled all of the seniors. Two nine-passenger Bermudas were ordered from Louisville initially, but cancelled.
Edsel Division Product Engineering reports chronicled the testing frequently, even to the point that, in early October, eight air suspension Edsels were placed in "varying degrees of service". In January, 1958 three air-suspended Edsels were transported to Bemidji, Minnesota to test the system in very cold weather.
Since the system failed, an alcohol inhaler system was briefly proposed to salvage the program. It turned out to be too little too late, since air suspension for Edsel never reached regular production.
In the early 1980's, Dave Jenkins, retired advertising account executive for Foote, Cone and Belding in Chicago related an account to a group of Edsel owners in Los Angeles about a FoMoCo-owned air suspension Pacer he was allowed to drive for a while. He said the car was eventually removed from its chassis, and had a conventionally sprung frame rolled under it, upon which the car was returned to the possession of FoMoCo and probably sold as a demonstrator. Dave saved some of the components from that air suspension system, and they supposedly survive today.
On a side note, many hundreds of Fords were produced beginning January 2, 1958 with a similar system. They were never shipped to areas where temperatures ever dropped to less than 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, as related in the Edsel Division Product Engineering reports.
Some comments picked up from the Jalopy Journal Forum...
I had a customer that had a '58 T Bird with air suspension, never saw a '58 Ford (proper) with it...
ATWATER MIKE, APR 26, 2013 SHARE POST#13
My uncle bought a '58 Merc wagon to get the 312 out of. It had a load of options. And one of them was rear air ride. Don't remember if it self leveled or you had to adjust it. But it was there and it was factory, or at least dealer installed.
ALPHABET SOUP, APR 27, 2013
One of my neighbors had a 58 retractable with every factory option including air suspension.
GREEN53FORD, APR 27, 2013
The 58 Lincolns were originally scheduled to have air suspension as an option but it was cancelled before production started.
RLD14, APR 28, 2013
I have two 1958 Ford "Aire Suspension" cars. A Skyliner and a Fairlane 500. The Skyliner is frame off restored and the suspension system functions perfectly. The mechanical leveling valves would never function in temps below freezing. That was Fords major flaw in their design.
AIRERIDE58, JUL 30, 2013
1958 Lincoln Rear Suspension Information...
A departure from the norm in 1958, the Mark III Continental's suspension design was intended to incorporate air bags, which didn't end up making production; it was composed of short and long arms, an anti-roll bar, tubular shocks and coil springs in front and trailing arms with a tracking bar, tubular shocks, coil springs and two compression bumpers in the rear. The rear suspension was redesigned for 1960, replacing the coil springs with parallel leaf springs.