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2016, G. DAVID

Car Collector

Volume IX, Issue 11



Car Collecting Today

High RPMs

Classic Rides
Reports From the Field
Oldsmobile (1897-2004)
Cadillac (1902- )
Allant (1987-1993)

Corvair (1960-1969)

= Clickable Link

High RPMs

November 2016

The DeSoto Motor


Pics to Ponder

Hard to believe, but way

back in Nov of 2008, the
very first issue of CCC debuted. In the second issue I
revealed my desire to own a
mid-fifties Cadillac. In the
intervening years my 1955
Coup deVille, the Gray Lady,
has come and gone from the
Yaros Car Barn; as well as a
few other rides!
Even harder to believe,
before I was even born way,
way back in 1945, the Chicago Cubs played in the
World Series. 71 years later
they have finally returned.
Cubs fans, no matter the
outcome, rejoice!
November Automotive Milestones
1-1895 1st U.S. auto club
formed & 1st car mag published, "The Horseless Age"
1-1955 Studebaker Hawk

1-2008 CCC debuts

2-1935 Cord debuts 810

Ford Zephyr debuts
3-1900 1st national auto
show-Madison Sq. Garden31911 Louis Chevrolet & Billy
Durant found Chevrolet Motor
Car Co.
5-1863 James Ward Packard
6-1893 Edsel Ford born
6-1899 1st test run of a
10-1925 Ford debuts TriMotor airplane
10-1775 USMC 241st bday!
11-1940 Jeep makes its 1st
12-1908 Oldsmobile joins
14-1914 1st Dodge rolls off
assembly line
14-1945 Tony Hulman buys
Indy Spdwy from Eddie Rickenbacker for $750K
15-1895 George Selden patents gas-powered car
18-1940 Buick builds its fourmillionth car
19-1959 Ford ceases Edsel

20-1920 GM names Pierre du

Pont president
20-1951 Sears, Roebuck & Co.
debuts Kaiser-built Allstate
25-1844 Karl Benz born
30-1900 Germany patents frontwheel-drive
30-1960 DeSoto production ends

- Go Cubs, Go!

GDYNets on the Web

Find GDYNets on the web:


site to discuss the newsletter,
the hobby and our cars.

CCC Forum

Car Collector Chronicles

Saved 62 -Our 1962 Olds
convertible, Ransom Eli Olds
and things Oldsmobile related
web site.
The Gray Lady -1955 Cadillac
Coup de Ville web site.

SAVED 62: A website devoted

to our 1962 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 convertible. The site

also has a lot of information on
Oldsmobile cars and the company founder, Ransom Eli Olds.

THE GRAY LADY: This website features our 1955 Cadillac

Coup de Ville, lots of Caddy
information and an extensive
repair library.

DAVES DEN: -A site devoted to a myriad of interests.

Foremost is extensive information on the Steel City of Gary,
IN. There are also offerings on
steel making, U.S. Steel-Gary
Works, U.S. Marine Corps, M14
assault rifle, of course Oldsmobile, and the tragic story of the
murder of Gary, IN Police Lt.
George Yaros.

Car Collector Chronicles

Page 2

The DeSoto Motor Car

In its first
year DeSoto
more cars
than either its
Pontiac or

For reasons inexplicable to me, the DeSoto has been on my mind of late. When I
was a mere lad a neighbor two doors down
owned one that routinely caught my eye.
At any rate, I thought it would be both interesting and informative to take a look at
the car.
Before we do, in the interest of full disclosure let me divulge that what follows is
not original from me. Rather, it is the product of searching the
net and gathering info. The most relied upon sources are: the
DeSoto Wiki , the DeSotoLand web site, Allpar , and
the Automotive Oddity web site. Having given credit where
credit is due, lets sit back and enjoy the ride!
While Walter P. Chrysler formed the division in 1928, the
first models were not introduced to the motoring public until
1929. Needless to say, his timing in this regard was not the
best? The DeSoto was placed to compete with the mid-price
offerings from General Motors, Studebaker and Willys-Knight.
Despite the timing, sales of the inaugural DeSoto totaled
81,065 cars. In its first year DeSoto manufactured more cars
than either its parent company Chrysler, Pontiac or GrahamPaige. At the time this figure set a first year sales record. Not
only was it a record in 1929, the record stood until 1960, when
it was finally superseded by Ford Falcon debut sales.
DeSoto provided the car buying public with
more than a few engineering advantages, including an oil filter and Lockheed hydraulic
brakes. Hydraulic brakes were either optional
or not even available from competing manufacturers. Standard equipment on a DeSoto
also included automatic windshield wiper, ignition lock, brake light, full-instrumentation,
steering hub controls for headlights, and a tool
kit with grease gun.
Throughout the depression years automobile
manufacturers had to be creative in terms of
marketing to keep their brand in the public eye
and get people into the showrooms. Chrysler was not above resorting to gimmicks
when it came to the DeSoto. In 1932 Walter P. put race car driver Peter DePalo behind
the wheel of a DeSoto and speed across the U.S. in ten days. At the conclusion of the
trek DePalo then put the car on the track and drove it for 300 more miles while attaining
speeds in excess of 80 m.p.h.
Even more attention getting was the the 1933 cross-country trip by racer Harry Hartz.
What made it notable was that the entire trip was driven with the DeSoto in reverse!
That had to make for more than a crick or two in the neck I suspect?
What was not made known to the public was that this trip was more than a mere
stunt. It was actually engineering research into aerodynamics. It confirmed that the
gentle slope of body contour found in the rear of cars produced less wind resistance
and yielded better gas mileage. In fact, the test results ultimately led to the introduction
of the DeSoto Airflow in 1934.
The Airflow, bearing both Chrysler and DeSoto badging is a whole other subject in and
of itself. Suffice it to say the design was leading edge and remains a classic example

Car Collector Chronicles

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The DeSoto Motor CarContd.

of the form follows function principle. That is, it did
what it was designed to do; increase fuel efficiency. In
the process it propelled DeSoto to 32 stock car records. Airflow scorched the flying mile at 86.2 m.p.h.,
averaged 80.9 m.p.h. for 100 miles, 76.2 m.p.h. for
500 miles, and 74.7 m.p.h. for 2,000 miles. Putting icing on the cake, Walter P. had Harry Hartz drive a DeSoto Airflow 3,114 miles from New York to San Francisco. The DeSoto averaged 21.4 m.p.g., consuming
145.5 gallons of gas and incurring a total gas bill of
Interestingly, the DeSoto Airflow was not a big success in
the U.S. It was only produced by Chrysler Corporation from
1934 through 1937. That said, it was big hit overseas. In
distant Japan the first mass produced Toyota was styled to
resemble the 1934 DeSoto Airflow. That is an understatement, is it not? Looking at the 1936 Toyoda Model AA it is a
wonder that Walter P. Chrysler did not sue the Japanese
auto builder. The reason for the similarity is understood
when it is known that Toyota bought a 34 Airflow, had it
shipped to Japan and then reverse engineered it by completely disassembling the car.
Eight years after forming the DeSoto division, Chrysler was pleased with the rollout. He
felt DeSoto was successful enough to merit its own production facility. He opened a DeSoto
assembly plant on Wyoming Avenue in Detroit. Before Chrysler used it for DeSoto manufacture, Saxon Motor Cars were made there. GM also owned the plant for a time and produced both Buicks and LaSales at the the site.
The pre-war 40s were notable for DeSoto for a couple of reasons.
In 1941 DeSoto introduced the Simplimatic transmission. This was
a precursor of the fully automatic transmission. While it did have a
clutch, its use was not required to shift into all gears. The second
pre-war highlight for DeSoto was the covered, pop-up headlight design of 1942. This was a first for the U.S. auto industry.
Like all car manufacturers, DeSoto ceased production during
WWII. Instead it contributed to the war effort by making Sherman
tank parts, B-26 Marauder fuselages, B-29 nose sections, Curtiss
Helldiver wings and anti-aircraft gun parts.
The early to mid-1950s were kind to DeSoto. No engine delivered
more horse power per cubic inch than the 1952 Desoto Firedome. A 2 bbl. carb on a 276.1
c.i. Hemi V8 engine with 7.0:1 compression produced 160 h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m. running on
regular gasoline.
The placid Eisenhower years
were not as quiet as some would
have you believe. This is particularly true when one speaks in
terms of automobile design.
Think of the radical body design
changes presented by say Chevrolet, Pontiac and Plymouth for
example. DeSoto had its contribution too. The 1955 DeSoto
could be had in not only a twotone color scheme, but also a
three-tone version on the Fireflight Coronado!

In distant
Japan the
first mass
Toyota was
styled to
resemble the
1934 DeSoto

Car Collector Chronicles

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The DeSoto Motor CarContd.

The 1956 model year was remarkable in that it saw the first DeSoto 4door hardtop. It also was the only year DeSoto paced the Indianapolis 500
race. It did so in fine fashion, attaining pace lap speeds in excess of 100
m.p.h. Breaking the one hundred mile per hour barrier was quite an accomplishment at the time, and a well earned feather in the cap of DeSoto.
The car that did it was a white and gold Fireflite convertible sporting Adventurer trim.
Performance wise, 1957 may be characterized as a banner year
for DeSoto. At that point in time the brass ring for automotive engineers was to create an engine that produced one horse for
every cubic inch. DeSoto accomplished this feat on its dual 4 bbl.
carb engine; 345 h.p. out off 345 cubic inches.
Albeit, undoubtedly, an aberration, one cannot leave the 1957
model year without taking note of
the DeSoto Sweptside.
made it is unknown, other than it
was not DeSoto. The vehicle
consisted of a Dodge front clip/
doghouse and cab, 1956 Plymouth rear quarters and a tailgate embossed DeSoto. This is the only available picture of this creation. When and where it was taken is not known. Nor is the whereabouts of the
truck, if it still exists.
In actuality, 1957 marked the beginning of the end for DeSoto. DeSoto cars began looking more and
more like Chryslers. They were only slightly distinguishable by reason of the grille and taillights In an era
of strong vehicle make identification, the decision to clone became a recipe for disaster.
Chrysler compounded their DeSoto problems in 1958 when it introduced its fuel injected engine. By forking over an extra $637.20 the buyer got 10 more horsepower. While cutting edge, the system proved
nearly inoperable. Most all the Bendix EFI cars were recalled and retro-fitted with dual four barrel carburetors.
The series of errors saw sales drop by a whopping 70%! Chrysler panicked. It closed down the Wyoming Av operations and moved production to its Jefferson Av facility. DeSoto sales further declined in
1959. In November of 1960, shortly after introducing the 1961 models, Chrysler pulled the plug on DeSoto.
Chrysler left their DeSoto dealers hanging in the breeze. Many, if not most, had no choice but to sell their
existing inventory at a loss, closing the books on another American marque.

Page 5;;

Car Collector Chronicles

Pics to Ponder

Ok, Ive had my say for the month. Now

its your turn! I invite/encourage submission
of your comments, opinions and article contributions. I also ask that you please help
spread the word about our publication. Everything sent shall indeed be reviewed by me.
Submissions should be sent to CCC at

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