Why people loved classic DeSoto cars (and what they wanted to change)

55 DeSoto car

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The 1939 classic DeSoto


* De Soto’s Handy-Shift–On the steering column –old “wobble stick” is gone.
* Goodbye to “Trunk Bustles”– the Stream-lined Luggage Locker is here!
* Sofa-Wide Seats — front and rear–room for sin big people!
* 5 Speeds Forward! — with Perfected Automatic Overdrive–optional equipment on all models.
* Windshield–higher,wider–with constant-speed wipers.

Oct 24, 1938 - 1939 De Soto

Drive a big 1941 De Soto car

YOU SHOOT from dead stop to full speed without shifting! When you want extra power — for quick starts, for pick-up on hills — Simplimatic Transmission shifts for you. No need to even touch clutch or gearshift!

Here’s No-Shift Driving at its perfected best… in De Soto, the car with both Fluid Drive and Simplimatic Transmi.ssion!.. the car two non-professional girl drivers drove coast-to-coast… through traffic, over mountains — without shifting or using the clutch once!

See this car — it’s 17 feet of shining beauty! Take De Soto’s Miracle Ride –feel how that Rocket Body hugs the road. Throughout, it’s a finer car. De Soto Division of Chrysler Corporation, Detroit, Michigan.

1941 De Soto car

1952 DeSoto cars: Fire Dome 8
1952 De Soto cars

No other car rides like a ’51 DeSoto

1951 classic DeSoto cars

The owners report on the ’52 model of the classic DeSoto

The true test of an automobile begins when the owner takes the wheel. This is another report from owners of 1952 cars who answered questionnaires sent by Popular Mechanics to 1000 DeSoto owners from coast to coast

By Floyd Clymer – Popular Mechanics, August 1952

MOST CAR OWNERS have strong faith the products of their favorite automobile corporation. A great many are avid Chrysler fans; of these, a substantial number favor DeSoto year after year over all other makes, as our owners’ survey clearly showed.

Vintage DeSoto cars in Popular Mechanics Aug 1952 (4)

Many agreed almost word for word with the West Los Angeles, Calif, sheet-metal worker who said: “The main reason I bought a 1952 DeSoto was because I believe Chrysler products are the best… the overall picture of the car appealed to me.”

Other enthusiastic comments were similar to that of a Long Beach, Calif., salesman: “Can’t think of any improvements right now — this is the most satisfactory car I have ever owned or driven.”

A Roxbury, Mass., mailman wrote: “I have owned nine different makes since 1919, and I find this DeSoto the best of all.”

“The DeSoto is everything I want in an automobile — tough, economical, attractive, and it operates smoothly under all conditions,” enthused a Durham, N.C., minister.

A school official in Clarksville, Tenn., observed: “The seats are good for posture. With finger-pressure steering, I am able to drive 600 miles in a day and not feel tired.”

Vintage DeSoto cars in Popular Mechanics Aug 1952 (1)

A frank answer to the question “Why did you buy a DeSoto?” came from a Chicago service-station owner: “Because I am lazy and it handles easily.”

Said a Carnegie, Okla., mechanic: “I am well pleased with my DeSoto. I believe it is a real car; it has the power and driving qualities of any bigger car.”

“It can do everything but sit up and bark,” remarked a Silver Spring, Md., woman accountant.

“Power steering (Hydraguide) is a dream and a great help to women drivers on long trips and in parking. This is my first DeSoto, but from now on it’s DeSoto for me,” said a Chino, Calif., housewife.

“After driving the DeSoto, I doubt if I’ll ever get a smaller car again. The smooth Fluid Drive is a new experience in driving for me,” said a Des Moines, Iowa, pressman.

“I like DeSoto’s Tip-Toe Shift because it gives you a choice of speed in shifting gears. It saves me from fatigue on trips,” was the opinion of a Cleveland, Ohio, draftsman.

Classic DeSoto cars in Popular Mechanics Aug 1952 (3)

Naturally, some DeSoto owners have their pet peeves and dislikes about the car:

“The DeSoto has a very slow getaway with automatic transmission in high range. . . . In my case, the dealer service has been terrible.” – Chicago machinery assembler.

“The styling needs more flair.” – Greensboro, N. C., salesman.

“They should remove the hump from the floor in front or depress it.” – Jersey City, N. J., production manager.

“The front seat at the wheel throws the driver into an uncomfortable position, or else he rides at the extreme rear of the seat.” – Harrisburg, Va., court reporter.

“Chrysler products have little eye appeal, no overall beauty.” – Roanoke Rapids, N. C., jeweler.

“For $3000, I expected more value. Not getting it, I am disappointed; particularly when the car is falling apart.” – Baltimore. Md., attorney.

“I don’t think this car should be in the shop so much, considering its cost.” – Denver, Colo., airline pilot.

“The price of the car and others in its class is about to force me into the smaller-car bracket.” – Richmond, Va., salesman.

“I dislike the fact that I can depend only on the hand brake when parking, especially in parking on a grade.” – Torrington, Conn., toolmaker.

“The Fluid Drive plus Tip-Toe Shift is absolutely no good. You can’t buy a DeSoto with conventional transmission and over-drive.” – Detroit truck driver. [Yes, you can, says DeSoto. Conventional transmission and overdrive are available on Custom and Fire Dome 8 models.]

“I was told I would get anywhere from 14 to 16 miles per gallon in the city and 18 to 20 in the country and it hasn’t come near this.” – Lake Worth, Fla., fireman. [DeSoto won Class E in the recent A.A.A. Mobilgas Economy Run — 1415 miles from Los Angeles to Sun Valley, Idaho — averaging 21.2777 miles per gallon at 40 miles per hour average speed.]

Classic DeSoto cars in Popular Mechanics Aug 1952 (2)

Vintage DeSoto cars in Popular Mechanics Aug 1952 (5)

Vintage 1956 DeSoto cars

Announcing… new forward look DeSoto for 1956 — designed for the super-highway age

Vintage cars - 1956 DeSoto (2)

Classic DeSoto from 1956

Pushbutton Magic on the ’56 DeSoto Firedome station wagon

One of 5 Forward Look values that other cars don’t have

Chrysler Corporation leads the field again with the driving advance of the year! Like magic — you just push a button and go! No levers or gears to bother with. Pushbutton Powerlite is as easy as ringing a doorbell. Its simple mechanical design has been fully tested and perfected. Why not try it today!


1956-chrysler-station-wagon-pushbutton-magic (3)

1956-chrysler-station-wagon-pushbutton-magic (1)

DeSoto Firedome 4-door station wagon

Chrysler Corporation

Pushbutton magic on the DeSoto Firedome station wagon (1956)

Classic DeSoto for ’57: This baby can flick its tail at anything on the road

Take the wheel of a new De Soto. Pilot her out through traffic toward the open road. Before you turn your second corner, you’ll know this is the most exciting car in the world today. And here are the eight big reasons why:

New Torsion-Aire ride! De Soto for ’57 presents a completely new suspension that combines torsion bars, outrider springs and super-soft cushion tires. It gives you an exciting level ride, takes corners without lean or sway and prevents “dive” on quick stops.

New TorqueFlite transmission! The most advanced trans-mission ever built, it gives you a smooth, continuous flow of power and exciting new getaway! New Triple-flange push-button control! Simply touch a button of De Soto’s new push-button control, and — like magic — you’re on your way!

Automatic with positive mechanical control. New Flight Sweep styling! De Soto presents the new shape of motion — long, upswept tail fins; a low silhouette (only 4 feet 7 inches high), plenty of headroom and 32% more windshield area!

New super-powered V-8 engines! ’57 De Soto engines are rugged, efficient and powerful. (Up to 295 horsepower!) New 4-Season air conditioner! This advanced and compact unit — mounted out of the way under the dash — cools in summer, heats in winter. One simple set of controls.

New advanced power features! You can have your choice of the finest power features ever offered in an automobile! New glamorous interiors! Each ’57 De Soto interior features luxurious new fabrics with smart, accenting trim and a new flight-styled instrument panel.

Drive the 1957 De Soto before you decide on any car! You — and your pocketbook — will be glad you did!

Classic De Soto cars - Desoto from 1957

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. When I was a kid I would ride to school on my bicycle, I would pass by the chrysler and desoto dealer and.look at.all the cars.

  2. My Dad owned a 1961 1/2 DeSoto that was an absolute dream to drive and ride in! I loved it but my sister hated it because she thought it looked like a boat! No taste at all!

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