Monday, May 16, 2011


DeSoto, originally uploaded by William 74.

Quite possibly best known these days for being Howard Cunningham's favorite marque, DeSoto was formed to provide Chrysler with a mid-level brand to fight Studebaker, Willys, and General Motors. This plan was changed after the company took over Dodge Brothers, giving the company two players in this market-in fact, DeSoto was priced a bit less than Dodge. This was reversed in the early thirties, with DeSoto being a bit more expensive and better equipped than Dodge.

Postwar, DeSoto returned with clean, if somewhat dowdy, styling, and got some real performance in 1952 with the addition of the first of Chrysler's legendary Hemi engines. By the mid fifties the company featured Virgil Exener's "forward look" styling, which truly brought the Jet Age to automobiledom, with soaring tailfins and forward leaning grilles. The cars continued to sell well until late in the decade, when the recession of '58 hit mid priced cars particularly hard. The sales slide continued into 1959, and the next year Chrysler announced the end of DeSoto production. Production lingered on into 1961, mainly to use up the stockpile of DeSoto parts in corporate warehouses.

This particular car is a '59 Firedome Sportsman coupe. It's probably my favorite of all the late fifties Mopar "forward look" cars.

No comments:

Post a Comment