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Part of Chrysler's Expansion

DeSoto was once the creation of the great automotive mastermind Walter P. Chrysler. After he had purchased the Maxwell Motor Company in 1925 and expanded Chrysler's operations as the third largest automotive manufacturer, he decided that further expansion was necessary. In 1928, companies such as Dodge and the Fargo truck company were purchased, but he also called for the establishment of two more companies that same year: DeSoto and Plymouth. In 1929 Time named Walter P Chrysler their Man of the Year. 

When Chrysler announced the arrival of DeSoto, a number of prospective dealers lined up. Named after explorer Hernando de Soto, who was also the mascot, DeSoto was intended to be Chrysler's mid-price offering to compete GM and Ford vehicles in the same price range-such as Oldsmobile and Mercury-and independent companies like Studebaker and Willys-Knight. The Chrysler brand would reign at the top, while Dodge and DeSoto served as mid-tier brands-with DeSoto trailing slightly behind Dodge-and Plymouth trailing behind as the lower tier brand.

DeSoto's first model sold over 80,000 cars. Fitted with a six-cylinder engine with an output of 55 horsepower. A second model, the 1930 DeSoto CF, came out in 1929. It ran on a 70 horsepower 8-cylinder engine. As with most makes, DeSoto took a hit during the Great Depression, but models such as the SC and the SD helped the brand regain its footing. Of course, feats like racecar driver Peter DePalo's 10 day trip across the US in a DeSoto certainly helped. In 1933, Harry Hartz also drove a DeSoto across the US-but this time backwards.

The Innovative and Dazzling DeSotos

With the recent attention, DeSoto planned to release an all new model. Chrysler was aware of the advantages of an aerodynamic body, and so the Airflow was offered in 1934 as a model that was both fuel efficient and quick to accelerate. It was designed alongside the upscale Chryselr Airflow with the use of a wind tunnel.  Of course, it was no "jelly-beaned" styled Ford Taurus, but it did have a unique fascia, one that sloped and curved back towards the rear. The chassis also allowed the interior to move forward, placing the engine between the wheels instead of behind them. It's a design that continues to influence automakers to this day.

Unfortunately, the American public was not convinced, and, unlike in the European market, sales of the Airflow dropped. The 1935 Airstream, a much less "radical" design and one a bit more in tune with the times, was released to make up for the drop. By 1939, the Airflow's influence affected new DeSoto models, creating a curvy appearance that expressed lavish taste and an elegant design.

But for 1941, the cars morphed into DeSoto's "trademark" design. Fitted with a waterfall grille, the "Rocket" bodies soon featured unique designs like headlamp covers. American involvement in WWII later caused DeSoto to cease civilian production in favor of building tank, bomber, fighter, and other aircraft parts to contribute to the war effort.

The economy later flourished following the war, and DeSoto saw an opportunity to capitalize. The 1950 DeSoto featured a modest waterfall grille on the wider and chunkier side, but in a way that brought out the curvy fascia and bumpers. The body grew in size, too. Perhaps it was the economy, or DeSoto offering what buyers needed, but this was the absolute peak in terms of popularity and sales for the brand.

The Very Best of DeSoto

As other brands such as Cadillac and Oldsmobile began to include V8s in their sedans, typically used as family vehicles, DeSoto followed suit with the FireDome, running on the FireDome V8 engine. It was smaller than the competition but just as strong with an output of 160 horsepower. It could reach a top speed of 100mph, then an impressive feat for a family car. For the 1953 models, DeSotos came laced and decorated in chrome, arguably looking more elegant and graceful than the 1939 models. Many enthusiasts admire these models today.  

The 1955 models kept the chrome styling and added two-tone styling. The 1955 Coronado even featured a three-tone option, one of the first marques to do so. Accompanied with a quiet engine, wraparound windshield, comfortable interior, and eye-popping style, it was the perfect sedan for the everyday driver. The Fireflite, DeSoto's flagship, ran on a 255 horsepower V8 that sat at the front of a long body with jutting tail fins at the rear. 

The 1956 two-door high-performance Adventurer rocked a stock car race at Daytona Beach, reaching up to 137 mph. It was reported to reach an output of 320 horsepower, all the while in exquisite style. A convertible Fireflite decorated in Adventurer trim was used as the pace car for the 1956 Indianapolis 500, too. As you can imagine, the '56 Fireflight wasn't too shabby itself. It sported a V8 capable of 255 horsepower, had great handling and performance, and beat much of its GM and Ford competition.

The late '50 models stayed on par with everything in style back then: larger tail fins, chromed fascia, and two-tone paint styles. The performance and style were a bargain for the price, but, unfortunately, DeSoto models did have their faults. The marque had a hard time living up to expectations, and the brand that had once been known to run on reliable parts suddenly had a few too many cars turning out in poor condition, with some that became prone to leaking and breaking down. Word spread, and the Recession of 1958 and the unfortunate mistakes like a failed electronic fuel injection upgrade in the Adventurer-which buyers soon found rendered the car inoperable-didn't help.

So, naturally, style became DeSoto's biggest selling point. Buyers could choose from over 25 colors and over 150 color combos for the 1959 Firesweeps, Firedomes, and Fireflites. But production fell, and so the Firewsweep and Firedome lines ended in 1960. The S-Series, which had its styling approved in 1959, was slated to debut for 1962. The chromed out, dual headlight, sleek fascia sat at the tip of a smooth body that eventually jutted out into then-futuristic, rocket-like tail fins. But it never made it past the prototype stage.

DeSoto's Demise

Management issues at Chrylser and internal promotions and layoffs left the DeSoto leadership barren. The S-Series was canceled. 1961, the last model year for DeSotos, offered only two body styles-the two-door hardtop and the four-door hardtop. Unique in their own right with a second grille placed above the first, these models were the last to be offered under the DeSoto name.  Chrysler designer John Samson designed another somewhat radical styling in 1962. It had a futuristic feel with caved-in headlights and a chiseled and curved rear styling, but it never made it to the prototype stage.

That was the last time anyone heard of a future DeSoto. Dealerships were later notified that Chrysler was retiring the brand.

Need DeSoto Parts?

At 1A Auto, it is our mission to supply you with the right parts you need to keep your classic DeSoto automobile working in tip top shape, at a great discount. Simply put, if you are in need of a replacement part for your DeSoto car you've come to the right place. You'll find a large selection of new, high quality aftermarket DeSoto auto parts, such as convertible tops and rear view mirrors. However, we don't only just sell aftermarket DeSoto parts online here at 1A Auto; we also carry a selection of new parts such as bike racks for your DeSoto car as well.

Our product development team spends over 8,000 hours a year researching the best auto parts, and they are carefully selected by our trained engineers so you can rest assured that you are getting the correct, high quality part you need for your car, at a discount price. If we wouldn't put the part in our own cars, we won't sell them to anyone else. A new aftermarket replacement DeSoto part from 1A Auto will save you 30-50% on average over a comparable new OEM replacement DeSoto part that you would get at a dealership, and our new aftermarket DeSoto parts are also extremely durable and reliable. Don't overpay for DeSoto auto parts and save yourself from a lot of potential headaches by shopping at 1A Auto.

You can shop for all of your DeSoto car parts online and buy safely and securely right here on our website, or you can call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about any of our parts, or to buy over the phone. With over 150 years combined experience, 1A Auto's customer service representatives are the most qualified to answer your questions about all of our new, aftermarket DeSoto car parts. Our representatives answer 99.9% of phone calls in less than one minute and emails are responded to within the hour because we know you need answers quickly to get your beloved DeSoto back in working order again. We also know you want your part fast for the same reason; 98% of in stock DeSoto auto parts ship from our warehouse within one business day so that you can get back on the road in no time, and all ground shipping in the continental U.S. is completely free. And, in the unlikely case that you are unhappy with your DeSoto auto part for any reason, 1A Auto also offers the only No Hassle return policy for unused items in the industry. Simply put, our competitors can't beat the 1A Advantage. Don't just take it from us - take it from over 50,000 satisfied customers!

Look no further than 1A Auto for your aftermarket, original equipment (OE) replacement and new DeSoto auto parts and get your vehicle the parts it needs today from DeSoto car enthusiasts just like you!

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DeSoto is a registered trademark of FCA US LLC. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by DeSoto or FCA US LLC. See all trademarks.