DeSoto Motor Cars Through the Years


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A Pictorial Glimpse of DeSoto Motor Cars from 1928 to 1961

The DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation manufactured cars from 1928 to the 1961 model year. DeSoto established by Walter Chrysler on August 4, 1928, and marketed for the 1929 model year. The name came from the Spanish pilgrim Hernando de Soto. The DeSoto logo included an stylized image of the adventurer who led the first European endeavor deep into modern day Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and was the first documented European to have gone west the Mississippi River.

Chrysler desired to enter the brand in competition with its rivals Hudson, Oldsmobile, Mercury, Studebaker, and Willys, in the mid-price class. DeSoto began as a lower price rendition of Chrysler vehicles, while Dodge and Plymouth were added to the Chrysler company in 1928.

Sales were 81,065 units in 1929, the inaugural DeSoto model year year, a first year record in the U.S. that was not surpassed until the introduction of the 1960 Ford Falcon. Shortly after DeSoto was announced, Chrysler acquired Dodge Brothers, giving the organization two mid-priced vehicles. At first, the two-model methodology was generally effective, with DeSoto prices below Dodge models. Notwithstanding the financial times, DeSoto sales were moderately solid, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932.

By 1933, Chrysler switched market places of the two marques with expectations of increasing Dodge sales. By raising DeSoto, it got Chrysler's streamlined 1934 Airflow bodies. although, on the shorter DeSoto frame, the design was a calamity and was disliked by consumers. Not at all like Chrysler, which still had conventional models to fall back on, DeSoto was hampered by the Airflow plan until the 1935 Airstream was delivered.

Beside its Airflow models, DeSoto's 1942 model is presumably its second most significant model from the pre-war years, when the autos were fitted with powered popup headlights, a first for a North American mass manufactued vehicle. (The Cord 810 had dashboard hand cranked shrouded headlamps in the 1936 model year.) DeSoto advertised the component as "Air-Foil" lights, and ("Out of Sight Except at Night").

On November 30, 1960, the Chrysler Corporation shut the DeSoto division down on November 30, 1960 in a move to cut its misfortunes despite a descending pattern in the "mid-price" car market. That pattern was created by the 1958 recession and its consequences for Chrysler's rivals were equally serious.

1932 DeSoto SC Roadster
1932 DeSoto SC Roadster
1942 DeSoto
1942 DeSoto
1954 DeSoto Firedome
1954 DeSoto Firedome
1956 Desoto Fire Flite Convertible
1956 Desoto Fire Flite Convertible
1956 Desoto Fire Flite
1956 Desoto Fire Flite
1957 Desoto Fire Sweep
1957 Desoto Fire Sweep
1960 Desoto Adventurer
1960 Desoto Adventurer
1961 Desoto Fireflite
1961 Desoto Fireflite

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DeSoto Motor Cars Through the Years Reviewed by Gene Wright on . Rating: 5