This piece from Hagerty is titled, “How DeSoto went from sitting pretty to utter doom in just three years.” It seemed to be gift-wrapped for me as it appeared in my Twitter (@RulesofLogic1) feed yesterday. However, I think the exposition is a little sparse.
One interesting point made in the Hagerty piece, though, was that the Edsel—as ill-fated as that venture was—cut significantly into DeSoto’s market niche. Combine that with the encroachment of DeSoto’s own mother company, Chrysler, and a sharp US recession and the make was doomed.
With the Chrysler Corporation moving Imperial to its own make, the Chrysler make began to move down the price spectrum into the space supposed to be occupied by DeSoto. Dodge began to creep up into DeSoto’s space as well. Of course, these decisions were made by Chrysler so maybe the DeSoto was “supposed” to be phased out. The severe recession of 1957-58 really hurt DeSoto; sales plummeted from 127,000 in 1957 to just 49,000 in 1958. Supposedly the cars also acquired a reputation for poor quality around this time as well. Who knows what came first, though?
Rumors that DeSoto would be eliminated began appearing around 1959 and those rumors, like the ones that would soon plague Studebaker, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despite a rebound in the US economy (US GDP grew by nearly 6% in 1959) DeSoto production declined to 46,000 for the 1959 model year. Sales for 1960 evaporated to 26,000 and the DeSoto was no more by the end of the calendar year.
This is not the first appearance of this photo in Disaffected Musings. The color of the DeSoto/Plymouth sign really “pops” against the other signs. To me, though, it is this car that really “pops.”
Another photo that has appeared before, this is a 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman hardtop. (Picture from en.wheelsage.org.) To me, this is perhaps the ultimate embodiment of 1950s American cars. Note the dual radio antennae (no doubt one is fake), note the triple stack taillights.
This car appeals to me for many reasons, but one is that it was powered by the first-generation Chrysler Corporation Hemi V-8. The 330 cubic-inch engine was rated at 255 HP/350 LB-FT of torque.
Anyone else share an obsession with some/all defunct American makes?
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