The DeSoto brand was a division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. The brand was named after and featured the stylized image of Hernando de Soto. During most of it’s production the DeSoto was a mid-priced line between the Dodge and Chrysler brands. The Firedome was DeSoto’s full-size automobile. Introduced as DeSoto’s premium model in 1953 and 1954, the Firedome served as the least expensive model during 1955 and 1956. And as the mid-range model in 1957 and 1959.
DeSoto Firedome 1955-1956
Chrysler dropped its 6-cylinder DeSoto Powermaster series and replaced it with the topline Fireflite series, which pushed the Firedome down to entry level status. However, the Firedome was not a cheap car. It continued to offer a its V8 Hemi engine, with an increased displacement to 291 cubic inches for the 1955 model year. The Firedome was available with either the Powerflite’s 2-speed automatics or a 3-speed manual. Most Firedomes were equipped with the automatic. The Firedome would carryover into 1956 with minimal changes. A new Firedome would be introduced in 1957 bases on the Dodge Firesweep. But the Firedome and Desoto would not be long for the world.
The economic downturn of 1958 hurt sales of all mid-priced cars. DeSoto sales dropped 60 percent compared to 1957. It would be DeSoto’s worst year since 1938. Sales continued to slide continued for 1959 and 1960. By 1960 rumors were circulating that DeSoto was going to be discontinued. DeSoto would introduce a 1961 model line, but on November 30, 1960, just forty-seven days after the 1961 models were introduced, the decision was made to stop Desoto production. Production would continue until all the existing parts supply was exhausted.
For information on other classic Chrysler products, see the post on the 1964-1966 Imperial or the 1965-1968 Plymouth Fury. To find your own Classic Car or to sell your Classic Car, see the listings in Classics for Sale.